Facebook is stupid and causes AIDS, says science!
Now, if you for some reason agree with that polarizing, hyperbolic statement, you might share this article with your friends. If not, you might just scroll down to the comments and cuss me out, the stupid writer in question, for spreading #fakenews. “Everyone knows it’s Twitter that causes AIDS, dummy, not Facebook!” But see, either way I win. We’re incentivised to get clicks, not tell any sort of truth.
This week’s episode of South Park entitled “Franchise Prequel,” an old nemesis returns to spread lies via the internet about our favorite group of ridiculous kid superheros.
This week’s issues: Fake News on Facebook and How to Market a Video Game.
That’s right, Coon and friends is back with a prequel for their upcoming release of South Park’s new video game title: The Fractured but Whole. It’s a less ground-breaking episode compared to others as far as social commentary, but it still has some fun and spreads a good message. In this new origin story, Coon and Friends find themselves in search for a new addition to their superhero franchise. Mild-mannered Jimmy Valmer joins the ranks as “Fastpass” and is immediately introduced to the gang’s super plans: making money off of expanded universe superhero titles. This is right on par for the series as the creators continue to exploit the most superficial aspects of our society.
The Coon (Cartman) outlines his three-phase plan to turn their superpowers into cash, beginning with Netflix. It’s a nice little dig at a competing platform. Netflix is struggling with member growth and will soon be raising their subscription prices. Even though they have been a good place for new creatures to make original content, it’s no secret that they have been happily pumping out anything with a Marvel stamp on it, no matter how mediocre the project or oversaturated the market might be. But, being a bit of a fanboy myself, I think I’d rather live in a world with too many Spiderman’s than a world with none at all.
Soon Coon and Friends discover that their Facebook page has been taken over by trolls. It’s Professor Chaos back to ruin their super-plans! Professor Chaos will stop at nothing to ruin their plans, even if they were totally going to include Butters on their sweet franchise plan…I mean who doesn’t love a good supervillain, right?
But Facebook says it’s true.
Soon enough, word reaches the Parents that a group of students are dressing up like superheros and peeing in each others’ mouths and all sorts of other weirdly specific, outrageous behavior. Craig’s dad offers a perfectly valid solution: to get their kids off of Facebook. I mean every now and again it’s good to just stay the hell away from it, right? Well, that idea is immediately stepped on by (who else) Randy Marsh, whose counterpoint is that that would never happen, and a better solution would be to invite Mark Zuckerburg to come in and talk to the town about their concerns.
“Children lack the cognitive ability to determine what’s true and what isn’t on Facebook. That’s why we now have young kids dressing up in hero costumes eating poop and having sex with antelopes in our town.”
Meanwhile at the Legion of Doom…
Professor Chaos is hiring kids to come to his layer (an abandoned Circut City) and troll people on the internet. It’s a bit of a recycled plotline from Season 20, but hey, it’s not like internet trolls and complacent #fakenews organizations are going anywhere so…
“I make money from Facebook for my fake content in order to pay Facebook to promote my fake stories!”
Coon and Friends start going door to door to try and win back all their social media fans. One kid unfollowed their Instagram because he heard that they poop in people’s mouths. Pretty reasonable. In response to the allegations, the Coon responds with a joke about Harvey Weinstein that gave me a good laugh.
I’m not here to give a “fresh take” on the Harvy Weinstein’s sexual abuse scandal. Quite frankly, I don’t have one. I think the things he’s accused of are horrible and people who abuse their power like that need to face consequence. If he is found guilty in a court, I hope he get’s what he deserves and that the women get some sense of vindication and justice for what he allegedly did to them. Either way he’s going to be the subject of some topical humor and that’s the way it should be… But holy moly do we need to slow these down from time to time. I don’t have room in my brain for all these disgusting famous people.
Look, it’s important to be informed and to take moral stances against something that will truly impact your life. But what I can’t stand, and what I think this episode illustrates, is the shit-storm of speculative, op-ed noise that follows a scandal and consumes us. Mindless, mob-mentality, sensationalized fear-porn oozes into our feed and we suddenly no longer care about anything else. That to me is the most poisonous and addictive quality that Facebook can and will ever possess: the frivolously interactive rush of validation. The false sense of a community banding together to destroy one thing or another based on a reactionary impulse. I’m not just talking about the (probably deserved) demonization of another gross old Hollywood man. Maybe I’m adding value to a simple “sick burn” one-liner, but with the subject matter of this episode and the reference they made, I thought it appropriate to bring up.
Fan: Facebook says it’s true!
Cartman: Okay but it’s not true, and you need to have your own f***ing brain and decide sh*t for yourself!
The gang won’t let their soiled reputation get them down. They have a plan, damn it. And like last week’s episode, it’s absurd and based off of completely selfish reasons, but it unites them! Oh, and poor Heidi makes a quick cameo to remind everyone what a selfish brat Cartman still is…as if we could forget. Don’t worry Heidi, we’re all cringing along with you, even if there are a few empathetic chuckles at your situation.
The Zuckerberg Battles
So Mark Zuckerberg comes to town in all his tee-shirt-and-jeans-wearing glory. The showrunners have made him into some sort of awkward video game boss of a person. I don’t know if there’s a direct reference that I missed, or if Parker and Stone are just amusing themselves. Normally they like to just make caricatures of their own invention, so I don’t feel as badly if I missed this one. I mean, in what world are there CEO billionaires that sound like quasi-intelligent video game bosses with canned lines more than likely programmed by a team of lawyers…oh.
Coon and Friends hit a roadblock when they call Netflix to pitch their show. Netflix, who of course will give literally anyone a show, refuses to green light The Coon’s project because of all the negative attention surrounding their Facebook. I feel your pain, Coon and Friends. They’re the only ones besides me who can’t seem to get that Netflix deal I think. It’s fine, I’m not bitter.
“This is Netflix, you’re greenlit, who am I speaking with?”
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg-the-Facebook-Monster is infiltrating his way into the homes of the people in South Park. He’s there while people eat, when people shower, and he sneaks into their beds. Mark is just generally being anywhere that people don’t want him to be. But hey, the people of South Park invited him into their lives, so what did they think was going to happen? The metaphor is not at all subtle and I laughed out loud in fear when I realized just how dependent I am to have Facebook at my fingertips.
When Coon and Friends infiltrates Professor Chaos to put a stop to his trolling, they find out that Butters paid Zuckerberg $17 to personally protect his site through the Facebook safeguard program. The only way for our superhero team to win back their social media pages from trolls and free the town of the intrusive Zuckerberg is to beat the CEO billionaire at his own game.
With the Zuckerberg Monster marching through town and pretending to cause havoc in his own mind, Coon and Friends record him as his childish playing turns into violence. It just so happens that Zuckerberg picks on only members of marginalized communities (Token, Kyle, and Jimmy), and rather than have his hate-crimes be broadcasted for all to see, he shuts down Facebook entirely, putting an end to Professor Chaos’ plans!
“We are just kids trying to have our voices heard for black, handicapped and jewish rights, cut down in our prime by Marc Zuckerberg”
You’re Grounded Mister
Steven Scotch sends Butters to Russia and grounds him and Vladamir Putin. That’s what happens when you spread misinformation legally to gullible people. You get grounded. So the town is saved, and Netflix approves the Coon and Friends superhero franchise. Unfortunately for them, they can’t agree on the outline of who will be in what films, so they break out into “Civil War” in order to set up for The Fractured but Whole.
So this episode was a lot of fun for me. And though it stayed on the lighter side of controversy, I’m sure people will be having all kinds of fun with that Zuckerberg caricature. (What is a shtoyl? It’s obviously his “style” but is it a reference to like a Sega Genesis game? I’ll feel ashamed if I miss such an obvious reference.) But remember folks, Facebook is only as smart as its users. We all brought Mark Zuckerberg into our lives, even if he is just a penis who makes all his own sound effects and attacks defenseless minorities. So we just have to not let him control our lives completely.
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