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South Park Continues to Perfectly Lampoon All of Us

Robert Franklin

Posted on October 3, 2018 23:27

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It took a week, but I finally sat down and watched South Park's 22nd Season premier, "Dead Kids." The manner in which it handled our cultural reaction to school shootings perfectly shows how little we seem to actually care about them.

A test review during an active shooting isn't even interrupted by the presence of a responding S.W.A.T. team. Hall monitor Butters patrols the school with a semi-automatic rifle. Sharon Marsh's horrified reaction to repeated active shooter events at South Park Elementary is blamed on menstruation, and later menopause. This is how the frequency of school shootings were portrayed in "Dead Kids," the 22nd Season premier of South Park.

It's disgusting, and in my view, a perfect indictment of how little it appears we care about this uniquely American phenomenon.

The episode is, generally, typical of the show. It places the crudely animated denizens of a microcosmic mountain town in the middle of a macrocosmic cultural controversy, has them react in extremes and intensify the damage done to the community as a result, then offers resolution to the central theme of the episode in either a script wank or some bizarro all-stop.

But what stands out to me in "Dead Kids" is the complacency everyone in town, save for Sharon Marsh, exhibits knowing that their kids are regularly in danger every day they set foot in South Park Elementary.

Almost all the people of South Park represent how we actually react to school shootings. Sharon represents how we should react to school shootings. Blaming Sharon's reaction on menstruation and menopause represents all the excuses to which we have a tendency to cling when the hard questions are asked: how could [insert shooting here] have been avoided?

There have been several times in the years I've been publishing my views on mass shootings and American gun culture where I have invoked Columbine. To me, that incident was a pivot point in American mass shooting events. Even though most of what was hotly debated in the wake of Columbine were moronic low-hanging fruit "issues" like goth subculture, video games, and Marilyn Manson records, there were serious conversations had about gun control. Congress even acted, albeit in a limited capacity.

Columbine mortified the nation and, for the most part, the nation reacted fully. By way of comparison, the shooting at Santa Fe High School in May -- which killed 10 and wounded 14 -- elicited "thoughts and prayers" and flags flown at half-staff for three-and-a-half days.

I was Sharon Marsh, albeit expressively calmer, 19 years ago when I saw images of Columbine High School immediately following Harris and Klebold's siege. I was worried for myself and for my friends. I was genuinely concerned that school was no longer a safe place for me. As the years passed and I continued toward my high school graduation, those images hung around my neck and the necks of others who also saw them.

Now, it seems those talismans are broken and discarded among a rising sea of bullets and student bodies, an aging flood of school violence personified in a cartoon whose 22nd Season premier offers a savage indictment of a culture obsessed with doing nothing.

A disturbing, uniquely American culture.

Robert Franklin

Posted on October 3, 2018 23:27

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Source: Denver Post

Students across the Denver metro area walked out of classes on Wednesday morning to protest gun violence and mark one month...

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