“YOU DON’T JUST CHOP OFF SOMEBODY’S FIREMAN!”
May 20, 1998
Mr. Mackey is fired from school after losing a marijuana sample in class and winds up becoming a druggie, and Kyle tries to keep his brother Ike from having his bris after he finds out what will take place during the ceremony.
We’ve all sat through a NO DRUGS talk at our schools. But like too much of education, students aren’t given concrete reasons beyond: “don’t do __!” Much like sex education. Trey and Matt skewer this lazy education with this episode, which finds Mr. Mackey telling his students not to do drugs just because, m’kay?
Apparently the weed being passed around to the class and it getting “lost” was based off of an actual experience Trey had, which serves as a shining moment of inspiration; especially since season two has very little behind the scenes information compared to other seasons.
Drugs are seen as a terrible thing in the South Park, even coming from people who’ve never had them, working as a commentary on the USA at large. The best example comes from the streets. Mr. Mackey, rejected and taking drugs, stumbles across a man who harangues him for his recent drug use. However the stranger on the street says he’s never tried drugs and turned out fine — only to assault Mr. Mackey.
When Mr. Mackey really gets involved in drugs, there’s a moment where his head inflates and floats above the town like a balloon. Strangely, he passes the boys and they barely comment on the insane sight — which means this literally happens, it’s not metaphorical, and this further cements South Park as a landmark magical realist work in mainstream pop culture.
A subplot involves the boys thinking Ike’s “wee wee” will be cut off in the Jewish bris ceremony. Sadly, instead of asking their parents, they go to Chef, who laments that they circumvent their parents. But this points more to bad parenting, whose practices have scared their children away. How many times have we heard parents say kids can talk to them about anything, but when something comes up, parents flip their lids? This episode in particular touches on a lot of common experiences your average kid and adult have gone through or witnessed.
More faulty info is given to the kids, but even from their parents. Cartman, despite being the raunchiest of the boys, is misinformed by his mother that a penis should be called a “fireman.” Again, this is misnaming practice is sadly common among families. For some reason some parents think it’s more polite to refer to anatomy in wrong, ridiculous terminology, further confusing children.
Surprisingly, Kyle reacts quite strongly and harshly to finding out his brother Ike is Canadian. While confusion is understandable for a kid, even anger, it’s jarring to see Kyle, usually the reasonable one, so furious at his innocent brother. However in the end, Kyle has a classic monolog and lesson he learns, so it all comes together for him by the end.
A quick note: the Simpsons is mentioned, which is worth mentioning because that means in the cartoon world of South Park, there are other cartoons. So it further cements that South Park is supposed to be taking place in our contemporary reality, not a different universe.
Overall, this episode is far better than the previous, messy affair. Despite juggling several plots, Trey, Matt, and company expertly weave tragedy and triumph together.
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