Election years are typically comedy’s time to shine, and it’s safe to say this year we have some pretty ridiculous campaigns to mock. As such, leave it to South Park to make fun of nostalgia while flagrantly indulging in self-referential memories of its own.

For the past 16 years, South Park has assumed a powerful position in pop culture for their detournment of American politicians. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s prankishly prescient approach to political satire has produced some of the show’s most memorable episodes in the past—and one of those episodes, Season 8’s “Douche and Turd,” just got an encore with the season 20 premiere which aired September 14th.

“Douche and Turd” aired just before the 2004 election, in which incumbent George W. Bush beat his Democratic challenger, John Kerry.  In the episode, the kids at South Park Elementary are voting on a new mascot for the school—but their choices are either a giant douche or a turd sandwich. While writing the plot for season 20, Parker noted that the installment feels “very accurate for this year. And it’s funny because we say, ‘Well, how the fuck are we going to comment on that? We already did ‘Douche and Turd.’’” So, in the season 20 premiere  Parker and Stone decided to revamp the nicknames and rebrand them for our two beloved candidates — Turd Sandwich (Hilary Clinton) and Giant Douche (Donald Trump).

To me, what is so rich and absurd about this nostalgic vulgar allegory is that it’s true – how do we get here every four years, being forced to choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich?! Maybe their allegory is too crass, but it’s during these difficult times like these where I count on comedy to be as bitingly horrible as our political reality.

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4 responses »

  1. maddieglouner says:

    I think at this point the only thing to do is “laugh through the pain” and the media is taking that to heart. Another great example of a network show doing this, especially around election season is Saturday Night Live. While it is kind of sad to realize how easy it is to make a mockery about the people who are going to be the most powerful position in the nation, the media is reflecting citizen’s views- the only thing we can do now is vote and laugh through the pain.

  2. ddmaoz says:

    What you bring up reminds me of the way our reading for this week discussed humor. While I don’t think South Park is the most radical show out there, it does highlight how much humor can be used as a tool for social criticism. Highlighting the humor and absurdity of the American political system is a really powerful tool in the pursuit of critiquing it. This is true even back home, where mainstream television uses humor to lament how horrible things are – I just wish that the people telling the jokes had a more radical standpoint so they could really call to question to language of the hegemony (as the reading insinuates)

    • maddiernelson says:

      I completely agree, because so often these critiques go right over peoples heads and they only see the laughs, especially the typical audience who watches South Park..

  3. carlywinant says:

    Political satire can have people laughing hysterically one minute because of the whole “it’s funny because it’s true” idea. But then kind of leave people feeling devastated in a sense a minute later because it is in fact funny because it’s (unfortunately) true.

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