When Jesus is revealed to have been using performance-enhancing drugs while working his miracles, everyone but Stan cuts off their plastic WWJD? wristbands. Stan then experiences the same thing when his defiance of social pressure turns him into an icon and naysayers do their best to discredit him.
“A Scause for Applause” reminded me, early on, of “Trapped in the Closet” in that Stan has once again become the figurehead for a cause. Unlike “Closet,” he doesn’t fight it, this time embracing the talk show appearances and Nike endorsements. I don’t know if it’s character development per se, but it’s an interesting contrast that says something about where the show was seven years ago versus its attitude today.
The Dr Seuss parody was an unexpected bit of brilliants and made an already-funny episode into a hilarious one. Everything is perfect, from the imitation of the good doctor’s use of clever rhymes and made-up words to the art style and the ridiculous, white-gloved contraptions that are so prevalent in a Seussian factory setting. The regular characters’ dumbfounded reaction to the sight of it is simply wonderful.
It’s certainly true that there’s a certain subset of people who seem to believe wearing a wristband and “raising awareness” (oh, how I hate that phrase) constitutes furthering whatever pet cause they’ve glommed on to this week. That’s not to say being passionate about the issues of the day is a bad thing, but wearing a colored bracelet is not the same thing as actually working towards change. It’s a part of human nature for most of us not to be able to think big picture all the time. When some big event happens or something that tugs on our heartstrings on the news, it awakens our inner philanthropist, but only briefly. We hear about stories like Amanda Todd or Reena Virk and we get all riled up to do something about bullying, for example. Most folks get passionate about it for a week, maybe a couple of months and rant about how things like this are just so very tragic and we need to change things.
We’re right, but being human beings, it’s very few of us that actually stick with and put in the work and become active forces for change. I don’t. Chances are you don’t either. Most of us, whether by choice or unconscious loss of drive, tend to lose interest in these things. We go back to our regular lives, having done nothing but expel a lot of hot air. That doesn’t mean we don’t care, and it doesn’t mean we’re bad people. But as human beings our brains aren’t built to think that big all the time. Unless an issue is directly affecting ourselves or someone we love right now it’s easy to have it slip into the back of your mind until the the next news cycle and we all buy ourselves another bracelet.
I thought the humour throughout the episode was top notch. Parker & Stone are on fine form here, from the ballsy Jesus storyline (loved him Hulking out near the end), to Cartman’s arms covered in wristbands, Butters calling Stan a “sneaky li’l butthole,” and the Swedish/French/Whatever Scientist who sounds like Mr fuckin’ Tudball from The Carol Burnett Show, which I was happy to see referenced.
For those of you not up on your ancient (and awesome) sketch comedy shows:
“A Scause for a Cause” is the finest episode of the season thus far, and with only next week’s finale to go, it will probably retain that crown. This is one of those very special episodes where everything just works: the comedy, the social commentary, the animation, the writing. I’d be hard pressed to find any significant flaw with this and it’s proof positive that a series in its sixteenth season can still be relevant, insightful, and most importantly, hysterical.
Watch Full Episode Here: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s16e13-a-scause-for-applause (available 12/1/12)