Tuesday, December 07, 2004

DB on TV: The Passion of the Jew

I viewed a South Park episode this evening entitled "The Passion of the Jew." I remember hearing some while back that it was either controversial or memorable, and now I can relate that it was a little bit of both. Eric Cartman, on a religious high horse after seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion, persecutes little Jewish Stan. Stan goes to see The Passion, and comes away believing that the Jews killed Christ and should therefore repent for the sins of their forebears. Meanwhile, Cartman gathers an enthusiastic community to further the new age of spiritual feeling brought about by the film. However, Cartman takes things a bit far: donning Hitler-like garb, he marches through the streets with his naive followers, having them chant in German (they belive in Aramaic) to capture the Jews, put them on trains, and send them to camps in the East. In a sub-plot involving the other kids, Gibson -- portrayed as a self-abusive loon -- shows up and deflates the community's view of him as a new spiritual messiah. All, of course, except for Cartman, who worships a Braveheart poster as though it were an alter.

The South Park creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have brought their brand of smart, subversive, low-brow, thought-provoking comedy to a near-science. The fact that they've been bringing it consistently with South Park for eight seasons now (outlasting an intense period of spotlight, scrutiny, and over-saturation just as The Simpsons did) and the recent and mostly hilarious feature film Team America: World Police is testament to their talent and staying power.

I didn't really come away from South Park: The Passion with any revelation about religion and society, but it did make me take a step back and appreciate that we live in a country where people are (still) allowed to push comedy and art to new boundaries -- to places that are funny and uncomfortable and uplifting all at once. Why uplifting? Because there's so much hypocrisy and saturated irony and media monotony out there. It's why South Park and The Daily Show and The Howard Stern Show and a very few others can sit out there and show us how weird this great country really is.

They take heat for being "out there" or "going too far." But what's too far? Where's the edge? Someone's got to show the way. Robert Mapplethorpe's art might not be my cup of tea (DB Note: it's definitely not) and that's exactly why I don't go out of my way to look for his stuff. Take away the edges and you're left with, well, Network Comedy. Hope & Faith and Rodney and such tripe. There are a few good programs left on television, and perhaps one or two watchable comedies, but I'll get to those soon.

Good and smart and Passionate comedy is my cup of tea, which is why this little neck of the e-woods is jubilantly celebrating South Park and its version of The Passion.

1 comment:

girlfiend said...

Great minds think alike. I wrote about Kyle's Christmas song today.