South Park “Informative Murder Porn” Review

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The parents of South Park have become addicted to the various true crime series available on the Investigation Discovery channel. After a local boy’s father murders his wife, the children become concerned about the effects such programming is having on the adults. They decide to block channels that air the offending shows with a parental lock-out app, and decide the best way to keep it locked is to use security questions only a Minecraft player could answer. Not to be deterred, Randy and the other parents set out to learn Minecraft and get their informative murder porn back.

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Prior to airdate, “Informative Murder Porn” had been built up by the internet as “the Minecraft episode” in the same way “Make Love, Not Warcraft” was “the World of Warcraft episode.” I think that’s jumping the gun a little, because the episode’s not specifically about Minecraft the way Warcraft was the crux of its episode. Sure, there’s a decent chunk of time devoted to the parents trying to figure out what’s a Minecraft and how do I do it, and there’s even a tiny sliver of in-game footage in the mix, but the story is really about the concerns some folks have about what influence violent media has on its audience.

It’s a fun reversal of the typical way this story is told. How many times have gamers been through media uproar over whatever objectionable content the latest big-name release may contain and anyone who plays it will become a murdering psychopath and magically proficient with firearms and won’t someone think of the children? In this episode, the shoe’s on the other foot, and they’re not entirely wrong. True-crimey spousal murder shows really are very popular with your over-30 audiences, and there’s a veritable pile of channels offering up schedules filled with almost nothing but. I’ve been a fan of CSI for over a decade now. More often than not I enjoy the stories, the character beats, and the city. But I know damn well CSI isn’t written for me. It’s written for middle-aged women, and for some reason they just can’t get enough of sleaze and murder.

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During the course of the episode, we hear a lot of the arguments used against video games from the kids. Kyle suggests that maybe the man who killed his wife was going to do it anyway, murder porn or not. Wendy wonders that maybe these things could be preventable if they’d spent more time with their parents and kept an eye on them. It’s a really neat idea to hold a mirror up to this situation and ask how CSI or the informative murder porn forensics shows are somehow any better than Grand Theft Auto V. And, are these concerns justified?. I think that’s more or less the right answer is a big fat NO, personally, but moral guardians will keep on doing studies until they get the answer they want to hear, it seems.

“Informative Murder Porn” is a thought-provoking episode on a controversial topic which never feels too-heavy handed and doesn’t forget to bring the funny, nipple-tweaking cable company employees and all. Despite, or perhaps because of, its shorter run, Season 17 is shaping up to be a good one.

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