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In my book, Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park and Book of Mormon), don’t get nearly enough credit for their creative genius. Over 20 years they’ve managed to turn a cardboard, stop motion, cutout animation (built around shock value), into a full blown cultural phenomenon that is every bit a part of the cultural consciousness as the seemingly eternal Simpsons. By all accounts there’s no way that it should’ve work; it was crude, vulgar, and pissed off a lot of influential people. But still it endured, and within these 20 seasons, tucked just beneath the shock and the vulgarity, they’ve been able to deliver some of the most pointed and insightful social commentary to ever grace a television screen. They cracked the code and in Season 20 of South Park they really show just how fucking brilliant they are.

South Park - Garrison for President

…tucked just beneath the shock and the vulgarity, they’ve been able to deliver some of the most pointed and insightful social commentary to ever grace a television screen.

Season 20 is like the part 2 of a 2 part series and we just got our first payoff. Without spoiling too much, the main overarching themes of these past 2 seasons have been the rise of Donald Trump (of course), the elections, and the general climate of America today. Mr. Garrison is essentially Trump (orange spray tan and all), JJ Abrams is called in to reboot the national anthem, online trolling has turned into a global crisis, and in a twist, Cartman is one of the only reasonable people left. It’s all smartly done; but besides the obvious low hanging fruit, what resonated with me most was their underlying theme of change and how we’re dealing with it.

Star Wars did it

…there’s those who didn’t think it was as good as everyone thought it was and viewed it as nothing more than a recycled shell used to cash in on everyone’s fond memories. I am firmly a part of the latter.

In the season, JJ Abrams is essentially the one to  blame for this whole election and general divide in America. On one hand there’s those who loved The Force Awakens and all the nostalgia it brought back. And on the other hand there’s those who didn’t think it was as good as everyone thought it was and viewed it as nothing more than a recycled shell used to cash in on everyone’s fond memories. I am firmly a part of the latter. While I have so many fond memories and nostalgic feels from the original films, I don’t think recycling those old ideas lead to anything substantial.  Going back may seem more appealing, but it’s rarely, if ever, the right thing to do.

 

South Park - Member Berries

Them not so “good old days”

…I can’t help but wonder if people calling for the “good old days”, know that those “good old days” weren’t so “good” to a lot of people. You couldn’t pay me to go back in time.

That’s where we are today. In my short life I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many calls for us to return to the “good old days.” Back when times were simple, safe, and everyone and everything knew their roles. But I can’t help but wonder if people calling for the “good old days”, know that those “good old days” weren’t so “good” to a lot of people. You couldn’t pay me to go back in time. We did not get to where we are today by looking back and shying away from the future, but by rushing towards it and shaping it ourselves. We didn’t reach back for old ideas to try to solve new problems, but created new ones. We didn’t try to shrink our culture and say “that’s enough”; we looked to expand it, because new ideas, new perspectives, new discoveries is how we shaped our futures. We didn’t do a lot of the shit we’re doing today.

Take the hard path

Change is inevitable. It’s scary, uncertain, and often volatile; but ultimately it’s inevitable. The world is smaller than ever. Knowledge is literally at our fingertips and those people across the pond are no longer scary, unseen monsters. Going back into a bubble of our own ideas and our own ways will not make us safer. Continuing to worry so much about the present and spending so much time looking to the past will leave us unprepared for what’s to come. And I hope that we will continue to do the hard thing and strive for those lofty ideas we were founded on, instead of taking the easy way out and running towards the past.

Change is inevitable. It’s scary, uncertain, and often volatile; but ultimately it’s inevitable.

So in these uncertain times, I, like South Park, wonder if everyone will finally realize that The Force Awakens really wasn’t that good.

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