QOTD 109: Trey Parker & Matt Stone Appreciation Thread (with bonus South Park: The Stick of Truth thoughts!)

If Kurt Vonnegut is the  “Satirist with a Whoopee Cushion”,  “South Park” packs a flaming bag of dog doo instead. Through 247 episodes and counting, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s creation became something of a socio-economic court jester, using Kyle, Stan, Cartman, Kenny, and a supporting cast of dozens to call out society’s hypocrisy and extreme polarization, all the while being foul mouthed and ribald and touching and scatalogical and subversive and popular and instantly quotable all at the same time.

What are your thoughts on South Park? What’s your favorite episode? Can you point to a moment when you realized the show was about a little more than just four foul mouthed kids and actually had a point of view / something to say? Have you seen Orgazmo, Baseketball (the last great “Zucker” movie), Cannibal the Musical, or The Book of Mormon? 

The beauty of “South Park” has always been in its quasi-authenticity.
When “South Park” takes on a topic it generally arrives at a decently
rational opinion – a comedy nirvana that comes from understanding both
sides of a story and the million little nuances in between. For 17 years
they’ve tackled the popular notions with scrutiny (“Free Willzyx”), the
ridiculed with empathy (“Trapped in The Closet”) and the controversial
with levity (“Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants”).  “The Woodland Critter
Christmas” episode so delicately and perfectly eviscerated the “Special
Holiday Episode” trope that the 2nd act twist is one of my favorite
moments in television history.

Not among the favorite things in history are any of the times “South Park” dipped its toes into the interactive media space – the N64 FPS being something of a cult-classic, and “Chef’s Love Shack” trying to do the ‘Mario party’ thing, poorly, cart racers, tower defense games, and a beat em’ up, all of which have been received lukewarmly.  The problem with these titles is two-fold. For one they’re taking the look and feel and style of South Park, but none of the creative pungency that makes it so sublime. Like throwing on an Under Armor shirt and trying out for the Broncos, it looked the part but didn’t have anything beyond the surface level.

The second problem is I don’t get the sense Trey Parker and Matt Stone are very big gamers. They’ve tackled videogame related topics in “South Park” before, and have done so admirably, but generally those episodes have treated games as a sort of macguffin to arrive at a larger point – The “Chinpokomon” episode generally speaking to how fads can be good and bad, and it’s best not to get too riled up about them. Similarly, “Towlie” featured the ubiquitous Okama Gamesphere as an object of desire for the characters – but had little to say about gaming in general. The “World of Warcraft” episode is rightfully lauded, but ultimately closed with a lasting image of our South Park heroes sacrificing their lives and well being for a MMO. Even in promotion for “South Park: The Stick of Truth”, appearing on stage at E3, they deftly parodied the corporate shtick Microsoft had going on without saying too much about about actual gaming or their passion for games.

Thus I was worried “South Park: The Stick of Truth” would be missing the special sauce that makes “South Park” so…special. I was worried it would be content to look the part, toss in a few “Respect my Authoritah!”s, “Mmmkayyyy”s, “Gingers don’t have souls,”, “Don’t forget to bring a towel”s, and generally go through the motions of what “South Park” is to the masses, as opposed to what “South Park” means to the folks who really pay attention.

And so far, holy cow this game is awesome.

  • The combat feels VERY Super Mario RPG – very active and timing-focused despite being turn based.
  • The
    “South Park Heart” is here and accounted for, the music makes some
    moments sweet, others epic, and all hilarious because it’s 8 year old
    kids playing pretend. The joy of South Park is how they’re able to take
    the “Feel” of an action movie, or spy movie, or war movie, and turn it
    into an episode or some other ridiculous thing – that’s here and
    accounted for.

  • There’s also a tree-house you can climb up that overlooks South Park – there’s no objective or anything, but when you do it music swells and you feel suitably epic.
  • You can hit anyone with your weapon on the over world, this leads to some funny reactions and some cool bonuses.
  • The
    story is really good so far – there’s a WONDERFUL “audio log” parody
    during the second ‘act’ of the game. If you’ve ever played Dead Space or
    Bioshock this is a dead on.
  • I’m
    curious if the game is going to arrive at a larger, satiric point other
    than the Game of Thrones / LOTR parody stuff. It’s early going.
  • It
    LOOKS like max level is 15, and I’m about 6 now, so I’m not sure how
    long the game is – I only played four(ish) hours – I was stuck playing Thief on Xbox One (A GREAT game). 

  • Butters steals the show, as always. with things like “You’re my best friend! No one is going to make fun of you now!” popping up his Facebook wall.
  • Character customization is nuts.
  • Exploring virtual South Park is great, and the call backs to other episodes are numerous. I’m sure I missed a few.

Tomorrow: South Park: The Stick of Truth review