South Park’s lack of class analysis

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Episode 1202, “Britney’s New Look”, highlights a typical flaw in Parker’s and Stone’s analysis.

In this episode, Britney Spears is terrorized by greedy paparazzi to the point that she severely injures herself with a shotgun, ruining her singing career (despite the dogged efforts of fans and managers to maintain it).

In a ridiculous twist at the end, it’s revealed that there is a conspiracy among *all* people (managers, paparazzi, fans) to murder Spears, relating it to the sacrifice of virgins (Spears is the modern Western equivalent of a virgin apparently) in some older cultures. The murder is done through stress-related events following an excess of attention (by paparazzi, managers, and fans). The logical flaw of murdering Spears by torture rather than by execution (throwing into a volcano or cutting out the heart) in relation to the comparison is not mentioned.

Spears is a manufactured pop star, in the same way that Hannah Montana is as well as various “boy bands” and others. These people don’t so much have fans as propaganda victims, who are taken in by the pomp and circumstance given to a fresh, pretty face doing something mildly entertaining. There aren’t even many victims, but due to the extremely high exposure (and the targeting of the young and vulnerable) and mass-audience enough victims emerge to produce the only thing the pursuers of this care about – money.

None of this is presented in the episode. The episode treats the various constituencies (paparazzi, managers, fans) as essentially equal in their effect – as reinforcing the other and working together toward the same goal (sacrifice of the “victim”).

Also not noted in the episode is that the manufactured pop star, unlike the sacrificial virgin of yore, becomes exceedingly wealthy. Excess attention is merely a side effect of the wealth. For South Park to produce this episode which presents these pop stars (all of whom either know what they are in for or are total fools) as victims is ridiculous.

This kind of “everyone is bad except the South Park kids who form the lone conscience” is typical of South Park and why they often provide decent analysis but never great analysis.

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