'South Park' solves the economic crisis
The recession came to South Park this week. The show’s metaphor for our real-world mortgage crisis was a “Margaritaville” machine, an over-priced, pointless gadget that makes the green-colored alcoholic beverages. Stan’s dad Randy owned one, Stan tried to sell it so the newly-poor family would have more to eat than “sliced hot dogs and tomato slices,” but no store or bank would take the gizmo in exchange for actual money. “Defaulting on your Margaritaville,” was one weasel-businessman’s phrase. (Warning: naughty language in clip below.)
Panic set in, with some citizens blaming the banks, some blaming “materialistic hedonists,” and some — well, the always reliably-appalling Cartman cranked up his anti-Semitism and started blaming Jewish people for hiding all our money in a “secret Jew cave.” (Among its many achievements, South Park has exposed anti-Semitism to such relentless ridicule over the years, it deserves some sort of humanitarian award.)
Pretty soon, South Park residents turned, inevitably, to religion to help them understand — or in South Park terms, further confuse — matters. Kyle becomes a savior-like figure who tells people they should spend more, and in a tableau designed to resemble “The Last Supper,” Cartman was positioned as Judas, ready to betray and kill his friend. In the end, it was Kyle’s use of an AmEx card with no spending limit (“Faith is what makes an economy exist”) to forgive everyone’s debt that saved the day.
The episode was the most back-handed endorsement imaginable of President Obama’s economic bailout plan. Or the most withering dismantling of it. As usual, South Park had it both ways. As Randy said to the assembled multitudes (i.e., us): “Instead of paying for cable, let us watch clouds!”
Did you watch? What was your interpretation of South Park‘s view of the economy? Did it make more or less sense than anything you’ve seen on any of the network or cable news shows?