I know we don’t agree on much within the mortar-scarred walls of the South Park blog, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m almost certain we can come together on at least one thing: Glenn Beck is the Larry The Cable Guy of right-wing punditry, a bottom-feeding opportunist who shamelessly mirrors the worst traits of his audience back to them and makes ass-loads of money doing it, and who’s so despicably, unabashedly open about being completely full of shit—but hey, whaddayagonnado, someone has to speak to the common man—that he shouldn’t even be a real guy, but rather the villain in some grad school liberal’s far-too-on-the-nose off-Broadway play.
I mean, not to sound partisan or anything, but the sooner Glenn Beck gets tricked into some kind of A Face In The Crowd-style comeuppance, or even better, gets lured into a rocket by the sound of the new Muse album and the wafting aroma of a couple of McDonald’s fried pies, then finds himself launched into the center of the sun, the better off all of us will be. Seriously. He’s like a walking editorial cartoon about the transparently pandering proud ignorance of neocon punditry, but instead he’s alive and constantly on my TV and sometimes even referred to with a straight face as a legitimate journalist—or worse, a “voice of the people,” which should really be enough to make “the people” realize that they sound like fucking idiots, and maybe sign up with Henry Higgins for some elocution lessons or something.
So for South Park, taking on Glenn Beck doesn’t really require much satire at all: He’s already a huge fucking joke, and all you need to do to point that out is stick to the script and play him verbatim. Like the way he uses the “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” style of interrogation. Or how he brings up ridiculous worst-case scenarios, teases them out in a parody of the very notion of logic, and then hides behind the defense that he’s “just asking questions.” And of course, the blubbering, and just generally behaving like a histrionic attention whore. It’s all ripe for the spoofing, and even if it’s already sort-of formulaic now thanks to recent, similar takedowns on The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live (Does Frank Caliendo have a Glenn Beck impression yet?), it’s still going to be funny, because again, Glenn Beck is a huge fucking joke, and the more you laugh at him, the more potential cancer cells you kill.
Or do you? I’m just asking questions. Like, are we sure that sending Glenn Beck to the center of the Atlantic Ocean to live out the rest of his days like the main character in that Edward Everett Hale story, “The Man Without A Country,” won’t instantly spur our economy to rebound, and our trees to start growing delicious tacos instead of boring old leaves? Look, someone has to say these things. For America.
Anyway, so “Dances With Smurfs” obviously took on a pretty easy target, but it handled it with just enough of the show’s usual surrealist bent that it was never wholly predictable. For example: As soon as Cartman won the job doing morning announcements (after beating out my favorite new character that we’ll likely never see again, Casey Miller, the kid with the “sultry summer sun” of a voice) and started using his airtime to question Wendy’s performance as class president (and definitely as soon as he said the words “socialist regime”), I may have known exactly where we were headed—chalkboard anagrams and all—but I never guessed it would end up with Cartman dressed as Wendy, mowing down a village of Smurfs and screaming, “Suck my fat tits!”
And having Wendy reverse Cartman’s rhetoric on him, to put him in a position where he couldn’t disprove that he wasn’t in on the Smurfs massacre all along—and sell her own Sarah Palin-riffing book, Going Rogue On The Smurfs, at the same time—was a similarly leftfield yet on-message way to wrap things up, far better than simply having Cartman exposed as a liar by Kyle or something. Furthermore, I thought having gullible, easily spooked Butters stand in for the “teabaggers” who didn’t want the evil government coming in and killing all the Smurfs was pretty genius, particularly when it resulted in Butters fighting back by pissing on the president’s front door and pretending that it meant something—not unlike, say, painting Joker makeup on Obama. (Even better was this exchange: “I called the president a bitch!” “Yeah, that was pretty cool!”)
So a topical South Park done right, and aimed at a target that’s actually worth skewering—the first of this half season. And sadly, even after Glenn Beck fades into a sad obscurity of doing stand-up tours and guest-judging on America’s Got State Fairs That Need Dancers or whatever, this episode will probably stay topical so long as people are motivated by stupidity and fear, and slightly smarter people who should know better are so amoral and selfish that they’ll gladly find a way to make money off them. Look for scenes from it to go viral tomorrow, and maybe even for Glenn Beck to use it to poke fun at himself whenever he returns to his show, which he’ll do as soon as he recovers from having the 30 gallons of horse semen pumped from his stomach that he drank on a dare after he lost a card game. Or did he?
- And it even got in a nice preemptive dig at Avatar, which I’ve seen 30 minutes of and yeah, it pretty much is Dances With Smurfs. Plus a three-hour lunch in the Rainforest Café. Plus machine guns.
- “We should be asking if our president is a penis-hungry hooker with a huge vagina.”
- “You’re a lackey, Mackey!”
- Butters whipping down his pants and pulling up his shirt to pee never fails to elicit a laugh from me. I actually knew a kid who did that through the eighth grade. I wonder what he’s doing now? Off to Facebook!
- I’m sure some people will call me biased (or worse) for rating the episode so highly because I clearly don’t like Glenn Beck, and they’ll probably accuse me of grading the sentiment rather than the actual execution of the episode. But how do we know these people aren’t sad, chronic masturbators too chafed to put on pants and leave their houses, so they exercise the only slight control they have over their world by loudly asserting opinions about irrelevant issues to anonymous strangers on the Internet? Hey, I’m just a normal guy asking questions here. For America.