Ahh, the world of South Park. A place where fart jokes, taking a dump on a desk, and making fun of Canadians is so enjoyable. A place where there is no Internet and no Peruvian pan flute bands. And why shouldn’t this little hamlet in the Colorado mountains be so enjoyable? After all, in this cartoon world, there is nothing else to do but enjoy a load of sophomoric humor.
But South Park is far more then just sophomoric humor and bodily functions. Yes, South Park is a cartoon that hits on so many levels. This makes it a worthwhile show to study, as well as enjoy. From examining the complex issues of AIDS, to discussing the overall reliance on the Internet of modern day society, South Park challenges its viewers to see beyond the surface (it is on the surface that the bodily humor lies) and look at what actually is being discussed in the cartoon. This cartoon is not about the humor or disgusting actions that the characters take, but it is about what you take out of it.
Season 12 of South Park is no different in this regard than any previous season. Like the rest, it attracts its target demographic (young males) with body jokes, fart jokes, and lots of cussing. Also, like all previous seasons, season 12 serves this up with intellectual and thought-provoking episodes, where the lower levels are what really matters. South Park season 12 is more of the same humor, with newer issues; due to this continuing nature, one must ask, how much longer can this show last?
One of my favorite things about South Park are the random scenes. As most episodes of South Park are forgettable, it's the scenes that stick out for me. From clips about heading to California for jobs, to a giant hamster shooting lasers out of its eyes, the show keeps me laughing. Sure, I don’t remember the whole plot point of "Major Boobage," but I remember the scenes of Kenny when he is high. To me, these random scenes are what make South Park so great.
Though most of the episodes in season 12 were forgettable, one really stuck out. I really liked the two-episode story arc that was told in "Pandemic 1 & 2." Though these episodes were filled with ethnic stereotypes, the overall meaning of the story is what was enjoyable. In the "Pandemic" episodes, the boys of South Park realize that the Peruvian pan flute bands are raking in some serious dough, and that they want in on the action. The government, seeing this epidemic of bands, quickly arrests and removes all offending bands, the boys' newly formed one included. Toss in a few giant hamsters, some hieroglyphics, and ten minutes of fart jokes, and you have yourself a two-episode arc.
Now, it is not the story arc of "Pandemic" that interested me so much; it was the overall message. Sure, the giant hamsters were cool, but they didn’t matter. "Pandemic" was taking a look at the government’s response to the smallest of things. Far too often, a single incident, or a small series of them, will set the government off and running to "fix" these problems. Often, these incidents are isolated, and/or are not harmful to the country as a whole. Yet, the government will act. "Pandemic" makes fun of this sort of governmental action, and does it well. South Park is pointing out that the government over-reacts, doesn’t fully analyze, and sometimes makes things worse. This sort of analysis is why I really like South Park.
Though most of the DVD extras are boring and dull (who wants to listen to a director’s commentary?), "The Making of 'Major Boobage'" is a really sweet feature. Basically, this featurette takes you from the initial storyboard phase (unsurprisingly, the art looks about the same) and advances you, step-by-step, through the whole process of making an episode. I liked watching how they plan the show out, that the artists usually do not know all of the details, and how most things are tossed together as it goes. To me, this seems a little odd compared to how most shows are made, but it seems to be working great for South Park. I really love learning about how things are made, and this extra stuck out for that reason alone.
Overall, South Park's season 12 is one of the best seasons yet. Though the jokes are getting old, the other levels of the show are still fresh and challenging as new things emerge to target. I think that there are a few more seasons left in this show, and then it should gracefully exit the stage. South Park season 12 is a great addition for any high schooler, college kid, or sociology professor. Otherwise, you will probably be offended.