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Reference-laden "South Park" falls flat in plotline

By Michael Margavitch, Columnist

            I love the animated series "South Park," and eat up every scene of irreverence dealing with foul-mouthed fourth-graders Kyle, Stan, Cartman, and Kenny.  No matter what the show joked about, I never got offended, because creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are equal opportunity offenders.

For instance, this week, they did a send-up of all the Jersey-based reality shows like "Jersey Shore"and "Real Housewives of New Jersey" that seem to be engulfing the cable channels.           

 In this episode, the residents of South Park are swarmed by their New Jersey neighbors, whose state has absorbed the USA's east coast. When they tire of their stereotypically trashy and loudmouthed ways, the people of South Park try to rid themselves of the New Jersey nuisances. After jokes about table flipping, fist-pumping, and "the Snooki monster," the episode took an odd turn: South Park decided to join forces with the Taliban to wipe out the Garden State arrivals. Osama Bin Ladin leads the Taliban into flying their airplanes into a crowd of New Jerseyans. Bin Laden was briefly regarded as a hero before being killed for his previous war crimes.

What was the point of the Bin Laden segment? Parker and Stone write him as a hero for carrying actions similar to the ones carried out on one of the most tragic days in American history. Worst of all, it came out of nowhere. It was a completely unnecessary subplot that left me offended.

I feel like a hypocrite, because when Isaac Hayes quit his role as "Chef" in 2006 after he was offended by an episode making fun of Scientology, his religion, I felt like he was being ridiculous. He allowed everybody else to be ridiculed, but when it hit too close to home, he felt uncomfortable and decided to exit. Now, here I am, offended by a cartoon that thrives on offending people.

What is most shocking is how few people feel were offended. I went on Facebook and everyone who commented on the episode said the show was "hilarious" or "the best episode ever". I am concerned with how carefree we are becoming with making a mockery out of the plane crashes on September 11, 2001, as if the sting of that day will ever go away. There was no reason to remind people of this tragedy where many lost loved ones.

It is also reminiscent of the 200th episode of "South Park" where Muhammad was included. While he was not pictured in the episode, it still upset viewers, and earned them censorship and warnings from Islamic groups. They pushed the envelope to get a laugh, but their joke was not well received.

I still love "South Park," but I just hope they reel it in a bit in the future. If they decide to go further, then it is their First Amendment right to do so. I can still have my opinion.

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