‘South Park’ Endorses ‘Ferguson Effect,’ Presents a World Without ‘Racist, Trigger-Happy’ Cops
What would the world look like if all the ‘racist’ cops packed up and left town? This is how South Park took on the police violence issue Wednesday night.
The Colorado town at the center of South Park has experienced some major transformations during the show’s 19th season, from the arrival of bro-tastic “P.C. Principal” at South Park Elementary, to the violent rejection of a Donald Trump-esque Canadian president, to the gentrifying arrival of a bona fide Whole Foods in the trendy SoDoSoPa neighborhood.
On Wednesday night, the politically correct trend continued as the citizens of South Park decided to oust the “racist, trigger-happy assholes,” also known as police officers, from town. “Wow, we’ve only had a Whole Foods for a month and already we don’t need cops,” Randy Marsh marvels before things take a turn for the worse.
The episode opens with a “code red” at South Park Elementary and while at first it seems as though a school shooting might be in progress, it turns out that P.C. Principal just wants the cops to remove a talkative student from his assembly. But that doesn’t stop Officer Barbrady from unintentionally shooting an unarmed 6-year-old Latino child.
After Barbrady gets fired by the local government, his fellow officers refuse to respond to 911 calls for fear of losing their jobs. “It used to be we could beat up minorities and no one cared,” Sergeant Yates remarks. But now that that’s no longer the case, they just aren’t as interested in policing. Call it the “South Park effect.”
The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are clearly taking a cue from the narrative that’s developed over the past year regarding the effect that incidents like the killing of Michael Brown and subsequent outrage in the Ferguson, Missouri, community and across the country has had on police officers’ ability and willingness to do their jobs.
“I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars,” FBI Director James Comey said at a speech last month. “They told me, ‘We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.’”
Cut to a Straight Outta Compton-inspired “Fuck Tha Police” montage of South Park citizens protesting outside the precinct and refusing to follow basic laws.
But while the American Psychological Association determined (PDF) that it’s “too soon to blame” the Ferguson uproar for a change in police behavior, in the world of South Park it takes mere hours for cops to trade in their guns and cruisers for grass skirts and hula lessons. The only problem is that without cops on the beat, the town’s homeless population becomes more and more visible.
Meanwhile, with their parents distracted by the lack of police presence, the kids join a ninja-themed club that looks disturbingly to the adults of the town like a meeting of terrorists. When they get recruited by actual ISIS fighters—who, to Cartman’s delight, are not big fans of the Jews—the town decides it needs police officers to shoot kids after all. Unfortunately for Officer Barbrady, when he is pulled out of retirement and called to the scene, he somehow manages to shoot yet another innocent young Latino boy.
By demonstrating that police officers can, in fact, be useful, Trey Parker and Matt Stone may have actually pulled off the anti-Tarantino. Rather than boycott South Park, as police unions have vowed to do with The Hateful Eight after director Quentin Tarantino spoke out against police “murder” at a rally last month, it is conceivable that they might even embrace the show’s anti-P.C. take on the issue.
But then again, there is that whole part at the end of the episode where the town turns its back on the beating of minorities—as long as they are of the homeless variety. Something tells us the boys in blue are not going to be crazy about that.