“South Park continues the on path of rebuttal” by Jessy Stanley

In Emily Nussbaum’s article “How Jokes Won the Election”, she brings up South Park and how the creators used the animated show to demonstrate how Trump is using a technique called the “The Big Lie”, when someone “state false facts so outlandish that they must be true,” [1] in jokes so that his audiences trust him even when they know he is lying to them. She focuses on episodes in season 20 that depict Mr. Garrison as Trump using the same technique but to larger extremes. But upon trump winning the election Nussbaum admits “What [South Park] did get, however, was how dangerous it could be for voters to feel shamed and censored—and how quickly a liberating joke could corkscrew into a weapon.” [2]

In season 21, South Park devotes an entire episode to this feeling and the power of jokes on those who feel shamed. In the episode “Doubling Down”, there is a parallel narrative between Garrison and his supporters in office and Cartman’s relationship with his girlfriend Hydie. When the focus is on the president the message becomes very clear:

The president will maintain control on the same platform he campaigned on: “Fucking everyone to death”. This extreme is South Park‘s version of “the Big Lie” and the current political community know the current political climate not that extreme, but it feels that way. This feeling is represented in Hydie who is trapped in her abusive relationship with Cartman, but won’t leave because she is shamed for ever feeling a certain way. She wants to leave, but when shamed she returns to Cartman and constantly doubles down on her decision. Then she is influenced by Cartman and the cycle repeats. This cycle demonstrates how the big lie is influencing the vulnerabilities of the “shamed and censored” voters. The voters know Trump is bad for them, but feel shamed by the left media so they double down on the “their guy” and become continually influenced by his jokes and lies.



[1] Nussbaum, Emily. “How Jokes Won the Election” The New Yorker 

[2] ibid.

One comment

  1. Your understanding of Nussbaum’s article is well crafted and you have produced a thought-provoking response. The similarities between Mr Garrison and Cartman’s relationship are unparalleled and Nussbaum’s analysis is used to great use here. It is interesting how South Park have parodied incumbent presidents by giving them appearances on the show, except from Trump. Is it more powerful to offer a season with a political allegory of a president or just to mock the character on the show?

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