Merry Christmas as Paramount+ gives us South Park (Not Suitable For Children) and I got the review!
After last month’s well-received Into The Panderverse, Trey and Matt take aim at influence culture. While I appreciate the eyes that may have gotten opened in Panderverse, I didn’t think they went far enough. Once again, I’m left with the same problem. South Park correctly identifies an issue, takes aim and misses by that much. Still, watching the discussion the last one opened up, I hope this does the same.
We start with Cartman readying himself for school by loading up on Cred, the newest garbage energy drink that has taken on beanie babies-like status. Everyone wants Cred, not everyone has Cred. Then there are certain flavor of Cred and some are very hard to get. Cartman, Tweak, Clyde and Butters want to stand out so they start a Cred affinity group. Yeah, I think you can see the parallels.
Clyde however has no Cred. His parents, well his Dad and stepmom Janice, won’t let him get himself some cred. (Ok I know I’m going off the deep end with the puns but really, the episode is making me.) He can’t get any an in frustration watches a youtuber who tells him to do his best, be his best, he understands him, and smash that like button and buy Cred! The boys find out about Clyde’s lack of Cred when he tries to buy an empty bottle of a discontinued flavor and fills it with apple juice.
The influencer tells him that Cred is having a giveaway in Pueblo, Colorado of Super-Mega Cred at a CVS. Remember when an influencer tried to giveaway a few PS5s and everything went to hell? The CVS lies in ruins and the boys still have no new Cred. And you can’t do an affinity group as white people, it just doesn’t fly.
Meanwhile Randy, Sharon, and the rest of the community are called to the school to let them know that an art teacher has an OnlyFans page and is making 10k a week to supplement her income. Everyone is appalled… except Randy who hears that figure and believes he can do the same thing. Be an influencer! Make money! To him that means sitting and talking about things with no pants on. It doesn’t get him very far and Sharon is outraged. He scoffs when she says he’ll never get any fans, he challenges her that it’s not that easy and in a fit a pique, she makes one and (of course) does so much better. Well subscriber-wise anyhow.
Randy now makes it his mission to get more fans than Sharon. He finds out about algorithms and since Cred is trending among 22 year olds and older (cough) he begins changing his content to sitting pantless and testing Cred by pouring various flavors on his junk. He begins looking for agencies proudly proclaiming he wants to get more subs so he can beat his wife. They raise eyebrows at that but all accept it.
This all culminates into him getting a sponsor as he and several other influencers are auctioned off to the highest bidders. In his naivete, he gets busted by the FBI as all his content is clearly being watched by kids. The FBI shows him a ton of photos of miners (yes not minors), imitating Randy by digging coal with their junk sticking out. He never realized that kids were so influenced! So he throws out all the Cred, he and Sharon close their pages.
Meanwhile Clyde realizes who wants most to influence him, it was his stepmom all along. So he stops saying “Fuck you, Janice” and starts saying “Fuck You, Mom!” to her and I guess all is a happy ending. The kids still keep trying to out-Cred each other and Clyde just dejectedly keeps going along with it.
Phew. So much going on. But once again, Matt and Trey show they aren’t really willing, or lack understanding, of where the problems really are. For instance, the FBI come across as the institution we all thought they were back about 30 years ago, just men doing their job. If they really wanted to point a finger, the establishment and corporations are in partnership with government agencies that are just as crooked. They never really commit to who is the source of all this. While it’s not one specific person or organization, it’s not parents either. I appreciate the digs that parents are too checked out of what their kids are watching though.
Cred is a nice allegory, and I like the affinity group thing, but they can’t seem to settle on what it actually symbolizes. If it’s identity politics, as the whole “affinity group” thing would suggest, that really doesn’t work because the kids have to make a choice to have a bottle of energy drink, they have to take an action. You can’t take an action to be be a race, that’s why the whole basing a person’s worth on his race is so wrong. On the other hand, if you are trying to show it’s rampant consumerism and influencers are just hocking garbage, that works pretty well. Still, you gotta commit.
The wink-wink at how kids aren’t allowed to see adult content on the internet is excellent. But again, they don’t take it far enough. I look back on Panderverse as they took aim at Kathleen Kennedy. But it was a fake Cartman-Kennedy and the real one wasn’t that bad. Except she actually is. And they wouldn’t commit to it. I feel like the same is happening here. We know the FBI is corrupt as it comes, they should’ve been involved in this whole influencer/OnlyFans/kids thing. In other words, they wouldn’t quite pull the trigger on the powerful. They did make some assertions that social media companies know but are shackled by free speech, while we know they create the damn algorithms that manipulate kids. Where’s the aim at Facebook, Instagram, and even OnlyFans? They didn’t really cirticize OnlyFans, just the people who participate and the crap companies that sponsor them.
Child sex trafficking is happening and several corporations and government officials are involved, turning a blind eye, or are more interested in going after people criticizing them for it. This kind of damage is never touched upon. Instead the criticism seems to be on parents, influencers, and influencer sponsors, not the giant multi-nationals that enable the whole mess.
If this gets people talking like Panderverse did, more power to them. I appreciate at least they are identifying problems no one else in the legacy media will even come close to touching with a 10 foot pole. But they continue to miss the targets, or at the very least, pull back when they should be doing the Mortal Kombat “FINISH HIM!” move. I guess I’ll take what I can get.