South Park has returned with a vengeance for their 19th season premiere, titled “Stunning and Brave” – an obvious reference to Caitlyn Jenner’s portrayal in the media as an undisputed hero and champion of human rights. As a life-long fanatic of South Park and its creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, I feel an intimate connection with the show and the beautifully inscribed subtext in each episode. While I would never presume to know what Matt and Trey had in mind while writing this episode (that’s for the DVD commentary to tell) I feel a special insight into it that can only come from growing up with South Park as my moral and universal compass.
The episode begins with an assembly at South Park Elementary where guidance counselor Mr. Mackey announces to the school that Principal Victoria has been fired in an incident in which a child referred to rape as a “Hot Cosby.” Mr. Mackey then reluctantly introduces the new politically correct principal named PC Principal. PC has the physical appearance and testosterone level of a stereotypical fraternity chairman, but with the moral code of TMZ and The Huffington Post. It’s a hilarious take on the ‘outrage culture’ that fuels much of today’s headlines.
As the episode progresses, we find out that, indeed, PC Principal IS the chair of a fraternity: a fraternity of almost all-white male frat bros with the same common need to aggressively defend minorities and publicly shame anyone who doesn’t follow strict vocabulary rules. When South Park regular Randy Marsh decides to pledge for the PCA fraternity, he goes through a hazing of political correctness and drinking games which inevitably end up with him hungover in the kitchen the next morning, figuratively and literally regurgitating all the politically correct dogma that was crammed into his head the previous night. I see Randy as the adult representation of Trey Parker mixed with his own father’s values, and I can imagine this is how Trey and Matt must’ve felt after doing some research on today’s intricate web of PC jargon and “activism.”
Also in this episode were several references to Tom Brady and the ‘deflate gate’ scandal. It wasn’t a major plot point, but I did get a chuckle out of Matt and Trey’s portrayal of Broncos fans’ fury with the NFL in this first episode of South Park. We’ve got a lot to look forward to this season.