Thursday, March 12, 2009

South Park, "The Ring": The power of mice compels you

Quick spoilers for last night's lucky 13th "South Park" season premiere (which you can watch here if you missed it) coming up just as soon as I pretend like I've never, ever watched "Grey's Anatomy"...

Thirteen seasons in, I pretty much tend to check in on "South Park" only for the season premieres, or for memorable events (though the latest election ep was a disappointment), or when I've heard from people after the fact that they did something amazing.

I'm not sure I'd put "The Ring" into that spread-the-word last category, in that its targets -- the Jonas Brothers, and the Disney company for using them to sell sex to little girls with impunity -- were so easy to hit. But the scenes with a foul-mouthed, violent Mickey Mouse stomping on one of the Jonii while lecturing them on their place in his evil corporate empire are going to give me nightmares for a long time -- not least because my daughter still watches the occasional "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" episode -- and in some ways that's the mark of a classic "South Park." If I'm not being horrified (by Mickey, and by the sexually-aggressive preschool girls) on some level, they're not doing their jobs, are they?

What did everybody else think?

19 comments:

Michael said...

It's amazing what they can get away with - more power to them! I just about busted a gut when they took out the foam hoses. And Evil Mickey was a big surprise, I thought they were going to wheel in the frozen head of Walt (maybe on a salt-shaker looking stand, accompanied by a beret-wearing gorilla).

Poor Kenny.

LeeZy said...

I loved what happened to Kenny.

I will not get the image of Mr. Slave's cameo out of my head.

Seriously... listen to Cartman... why are you still watching Grey's Anatomy?

Ed Howard said...

I thought it closely followed the format of some of the show's other "exposing hypocrisy"-type episodes. Something about it felt familiar, a retread of previous successes rather than truly fresh comedy.

That said, the Mickey Mouse character was *hilarious*, had me doubled over laughing in a way I don't think I did through the entirety of the lackluster 12th season. That's certainly a good sign; this was the best South Park has been in probably a season and a half.

I also wonder if this episode was inspired by the court decision that the image of Mickey in the famous "Steamboat Willie" cartoon is now in the public domain -- albeit not the later iconic appearance of the character. The way they kept having Mickey pointedly face the camera as he paced back and forth seemed like a deliberate "sue me" challenge to the notoriously suit-prone Disney, much like the Scientology episode.

Bobman said...

Considering how litigious Disney can be (and how friendly the courts are to them), how exactly does South Park get away with using the Mickey likeness like that?

Ed Howard said...

"the frozen head of Walt (maybe on a salt-shaker looking stand, accompanied by a beret-wearing gorilla)."

That would've been brilliant, though I suspect the reference would've gone wayyyyy over most people's heads.

Kel V Morris said...

Couples' Night with the fifth-graders was easily the best part.

Hatfield said...

Count me among the people who felt a stiff breeze as that reference flew overhead. Anyone care to elaborate?

Oh, and ditto on Mickey. South Park's not always great, but they're always ruthless, and I love it.

Ed Howard said...

"Count me among the people who felt a stiff breeze as that reference flew overhead. Anyone care to elaborate?"

It's from Grant Morrison's great comic Doom Patrol. One of the best issues of this incredibly weird series revolved around the homoerotic relationship between a brain in a jar and an intellectual gorilla.


"Considering how litigious Disney can be (and how friendly the courts are to them), how exactly does South Park get away with using the Mickey likeness like that?"

It's parody, which is protected by the freedom of speech.

Bobman said...

It's parody, which is protected by the freedom of speech.

In theory, yes, but it's not like people like Disney don't try anyway.

Hatfield said...

Ooh, thanks for the explanation, Ed.

For my money, the best (most twisted, that is) episodes are the Oprah one, and the episode with Radiohead and the chili cook-off. Genius!

Savvy Veteran said...

I really enjoy it when Matt and Trey attach an explicit message (okay, so it wasn't as clear cut as the old "You know, I learned something today" episodes, but still) rather than just attacking an issue mercilessly from both sides like they often do. Good episode.

Tracey said...

@Ed and Bobman: Um... no. It's a parody, which is probably (but not necessarily) protected by the fair use provisions of copyright law. Nothing to do with freedom of speech.

paul said...

I took particular delight in this episode. I watched it this morning while dressing for work. At the same instant, my wife was downstairs with my son, subjected to Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse. The only thing I would have liked better would have been if Parker and Stone could have worked in some parody of that horribly annoying "Hot Dog" song from the Clubhouse. Alan will know what I'm talking about.

I'm not sure I'd go along with describing season 12 as lackluster. There were a number of shows that didn't quite work, but we also got Major Boobage, Canada on Strike, Over Logging, Super Fun Time, Breast Cancer Show Ever, and The Undergroundable, each of which were hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Loved this episode and the appearance of the Mouse: "Do we have a problem here?" Really nailed the Disney Channel's tween marketing....

But now I have a queasy feeling in regards to Sasha and Malia and their JB love......

Bob in SA said...

Another interesting way for Kenny to die. At least he didn't get foamed to death.

maritimexpat said...

I notice that the general point (boy bands selling sex to young women) was made (way more hilariously) in the 'Something You Can Do with Your Finger' episode.... wow, 9 seasons ago.

Also, I didn't happen to find the Mickey parody to be all that great... his scenes seemed to be 'Internet flash animation' calibre at best.

That said, the Couples Night scene just got better and better, even if the Grey's Anatomy digs seemed extremely stale (the show's been on 5 seasons, after all).

meekus said...

Disney has always been so litiginous with parodies before, and I've never seen ANYBODY go at them as hard as South Park did tonight. It was fucking delicious. I'd say that there's about a 30%chance that this episode will never be shown again, if Disney's lawyers have their way.

Best new TV I've seen in a while.

dez said...

My fave part was the Mickey laugh in between all the threats Mr. Mouse was making. Well, that, and the little girls all popping open their mouths when the Jonas Bros. walked in--sick, but funny as hell.

Karen said...

"Girls, do you want the Jonas Brothers' hot foam in your faces?"

Oh MAN.

That, and foul-mouthed yet still giggly Mickey, had me paralyzed with laughter.

I, too, fair use or no fair use, am in awe that Stone and Parker chose to take on Big Rodent. Those boys have balls that would shame Stephen Colbert.