“DER YOURSELF, HIPPIE!”
June 10, 1998
“The kids get revenge on Jimbo and Ned after they fail their report on Vietnam. However, their practical joke sparks a fierce ratings war between ‘Jesus and Pals’ and Jimbo and Ned’s hunting program.
In this episode of South Park, much of the commentary is fairly broad and obvious; but nevertheless funny. The key plot involves Jimbo and Ned’s show, “Huntin’ and Killin’”, where they use gruesome Vietnam tactics to kill wildlife. They justify their actions like Thanos by saying they need to “thin out [the animals’] numbers” otherwise the critters will go extinct. No wonder the wildlife turn to the Satan worship later on…
I’ve mentioned before that Kyle wasn’t quite the voice of reason early on, and here, he corrects Cartman for asking if Vietnam was fun, saying: “Of course it was fun!”
Interestingly, Jimbo admits that Vietnam was a horrible time, saying the pain it caused him was similar to shoving “shards of glass up your ass” then sitting in a bathtub of hot sauce. This is surprisingly true to life: veterans’ lives will be overtaken by the memories of war, even talking about it as “glory days,” despite or perhaps because of the trauma war inflicts.
In a Vietnam flashback, it’s amusing that Trey, Matt, and company throw in a musical drop, which is contractually required for any Vietnam film or scene (AHEM Forest Gump). It’s especially funny a vicious cartoon like South Park in its early days was able to clear “Time of the Season.”
The other side of the episode concerns TV and public cable, and as someone who worked in public cable, I can say the crappy set-ups and wealth of niche, extremist shows pulling in two views is accurate.
As the kids get more involved in TV, they soon learn that they can lie and manipulate the media as they please, which is all too accurate today, although now it’s obviously exacerbated by the internet.
Soon, the show moves from jokes aimed at public cable to a parody of Jerry Springer and his shows. If you want more background, recently there was an excellent video, “Trash TV: Dirty and Deadly Talk” by VICE where they examine how all the shows at the time tried to be like Springer to get more views.
There’s a shocking moment where Michael Jackson appears and defends his alleged pedophilia. Decades later, we’re still talking about his legacy and it’s much more believable because of documentaries like Leaving Neverland, but it’s surprising that in 1998, when Jackson was still alive, Trey and Matt were throwing shots at him. Despite strong evidence, many people don’t like the status of their celebrities challenged, so Trey and Matt depict the Jerry Springer-esque crowd clapping after Michael Jacksons excuses his behavior.
In this episode, there are broader digs at the entertainment industry. When Jimbo’s show goes from two to twenty views, he asks if he’ll get more money, to which his agent replies: “No, but I do!”
Finally, Jesus puts an end to the lies and chaos, and there’s a nod to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve when Jesus’ show runner/manager, in fear of Jesus, hides behind a potted plant. This is not dissimilar to Eve hiding in the shrubbery of Eden when God gets angry and makes Adam and Eve feel ashamed of their nakedness.
Last of all, it’s worth noting this is the first appearance of Saddam Hussein as Satan’s lover. While not shocking now that we’re used to the pair in South Park lore, imagine seeing this for the first time in 1998 on public TV. But here we are still watching these episodes: even if some jokes aren’t as shocking now, much of South Park’s relevant humor stays prescient. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
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