Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

South Park – Reverse Cow Girl and Cash For Gold

March 30, 2012 by Nicholas

South Park’s back. It’s also oddly muted, not as vicious as it can sometimes be and maybe even philosophical. Sometimes it starts slowly, lulling you into believing it has lost its edge before going for the jugular. It could be that this season is going to be one of those times.

Reverse Cow Girl is both about the age old argument between men and women regarding leaving the toilet seat up and the erosion of civil liberties in the pursuit of freedom. As an analogy it works surprisingly well, which is something South Park always excels at: taking something you think is a throwaway joke and using it to make a serious point about the world. While being funny. For the most part the humour is mild and interlaced with general thoughtfulness and even tenderness. There is an archetypal Cartman moment to drive the plot on as well as being funny, but overall there aren’t as many jokes as I have come to expect. I’m also not sure how much I conflate seat belts with airline restrictions, but then again I grew up with seatbelts being a fact of life so I have never really had cause to think about the implications of them before.

Cash For Gold is about lots of things. It’s about dementia, forgetting the things that matter and being confused. It’s about the perilous state of the economy, how people are cashing in on people’s desperation by opening pawn shops. It’s about people preying on the elderly.  It’s about Stan trying to connect with his granddad and his moral indignation at the greater story and it is about Cartman trying to make a fast buck. It’s not uproariously funny at any point, but it does make a few good points and has some good jokes. There is also an oddly emotional subplot running through the program, with Stan trying to protect his grandfather from exploitation and also realising that his granddad is confused and old. He lashes out at easy targets and learns everything is more complicated, before directing his ire at the host of a tv show. His continued victimisation of the host is odd, if it were Cartman it would be funny, but it being Stan it takes on a strange aspect and the ending feels bleak. It’s comedy, but it isn’t necessarily meant to be funny at all times.