TV Tropes: World War Zimmerman (5th Blog Post)

Since 6th Grade, I have one constant. My favorite among favorites in television, and that is South Park. For more than a decade now I’ve considered Matt Stone and Trey Parker to be quite honestly, the most in-genius television writers I have ever known.

Ever since the first season passed, they have steered away from their foundation of toilet-humor (hilarious toilet-humor if you ask me), and have turned to exaggerated metaphor,  shock value, and social/political commentary. Today (along with The Boondocks) I consider South Park to be one of the most thought-provoking animated shows on television, today and possibly all-time.

One example that proves this and ties class (and iZombie) along with it is their episode titled World War Zimmerman. A spoof of the very recent zombie apocalypse-inspired film World War Z starring Brad Pitt. Needless to say, they had a field day with it. Of course, it is only fitting that Cartman is their Brad Pitt

It’s funny how we discussed the Haitian zombies in class, and how they were slaves and the fear derived from them was rebelling over their masters, the white man. You take a look here, and it appears to not have moved far from that original narrative:

south-park-s17e03c03-cartmans-nightmare-16x9These New York zombies, are apart of a nightmare Cartman is having, a nightmare where he is Brad Pitt.  In the nightmare, they are fueled, gone feral with “Black Rage” in response to they Trayvon Martin verdict where George Zimmerman was found not guilty of any wrong-doing. All they are capable of saying in the episode is, “F*** you Brad Pitt!”

Eventually, Cartman wakes up and the manifestation of his fears are realized when he has an argument with his classmate Token; South Park’s “Token” black character.

What ensues afterwards is just an absolute cluster-fuck of scared white people, plane crashes, nuances of the “stand your ground” law and a fair ending to the madness started by a “Patient Zero”.

Some of the tropes in the episode are as follows:

Artistic License Law: South Park makes toilet paper out of the Stand Your Ground law with Cartman drawing a circle around himself (his ground). he does this because he is scared to confront Token based on his race. Cartman asks Token to bump fists throughout the episode, the very last time he does this, Token gives in – enters the circle – and the gets shot by Cartman. In justification, Cartman says, “He stepped on my ground…it’s my ground.”

Double Standard: George Zimmerman, who is the theme to the episode, shoots Cartman outside his house. Cartman was dressed in black-face. The police and Zimmerman thought everything would be okay, until they discovered Cartman was actually white. Zimmerman was executed, immediately.

What the hell, hero?: Kyle, the character of moral high ground. calls out Cartman after shooting Token in the following way:

Cartman: *defensive* The jury found me innocent, Kyle!
Kyle: But you’re a murderer.
Here We Go Again: Not soon after everything has ended, and Token goes back to school. Token makes a comment about how Cartman wouldn’t have been able to do what he had done if he were white. Thereafter, Cartman runs right out of the room started the running gag of crashing planes (reference to World War Z) all over again.
In retrospect of what we have been reading/discussion in class, South Park, in this episode stuck to the classical representation of where/what zombies come from. The form however, black rage, is now more apparent to the times, as slavery no longer exists. However, black rage is still an attitude that is feared by white people in America. The patient zero no longer being an infectious virus, but the personification of revenge upon whites via black America (George Zimmerman).
So if you’re white, and scared for your own life the next time our inherently prejudiced judicial/political system opens another can of worms, make sure you got your Brad Pitt Survival Gear handy.
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2 thoughts on “TV Tropes: World War Zimmerman (5th Blog Post)

  1. South Park is great satire, and for me it goes episode to episode, but more often than not they take something real and distort it to an entertaining and ridiculous length, like an Onion article on stolen steroids. I remember only seeing parts of the episode you’re talking about (which I will have to watch in entirety sometime) and thinking that they were tackling something that major news sources were too afraid to, probably because of the lack of creative license I suppose. But still, with its guise of being purely funny of offensive (both of which are true) these qualities always lend to a more important social/political issue that needs to be addressed and probably would’t be otherwise, especially those that make up South Park’s target audience. I don’t think I’m intended to be part of the target audience, but I do enjoy watching it a lot and look forward to seeing who else they call out (has there been a Donald Trump episode, like presidential wannabe Trump? because there should be).

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  2. I’ve never been a South Park fan. I think it’s funny and certainly it’s culturally relevant but somehow I never quite hit the level of fandom so many of my friends have. With that said, I’m not sure how much you know of the history of Matt Stone and Trey Parker but some of their earliest work was for the Troma film studio and included a project called Cannibal: the Musical. It’s horrendously bad (as all Troma flicks are) and revels in it’s inherent B-movie-ness. If you haven’t seen it, I’d check it out. You can see the roots of both South Park and Book of Mormon AND it plays around with some of those hooror film/TV tropes we’ve discussed in class. I think the “Black Rage” component of the episode is an interesting social commentary, typical of South Park, that both points the finger at current racial concerns and colonialist ‘zombie’ fears. As much as the show never struck my fancy, I think Parker and Stone are two of the more brilliant writers in the field today and I really appreciate you including their work in this blog!

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