What an incredible start to the 12th season of South Park. I laughed my ass off, not at people having AIDS, of course, which isn’t funny, but rather, at the way South Park portrayed the perception of AIDS in America.
The episode begins with Cartman going into the doctor’s office for a routine tonsillectomy. When he wakes up, he’s informed that he has AIDS. The other boys are told, and Kyle can’t help but feel that this is all somewhat deserved and, in effect, karma just doing its thing. As retribution for his thoughts, Cartman sneaks into Kyle’s room at night and injects him with his own AIDS.
Everywhere the boys are getting little sympathy for their AIDS because apparently cancer is the new thing that everybody feels bad about. AIDS, it seems, was the 90’s disease. That’s the way it goes – America gets tired of caring about one thing and moves onto the next.
In a search for their cure the boys go to see Magic Johnson, who was diagnosed with HIV a long time ago, but continues to be fine today. They ask him how and look around his home, recognizing that he sleeps with all his money. That’s it – money injected right into the veins is the cure.
And that is the beauty of this episode. HIV can be kept in check long term by throwing vast sums of money at it – $180K according to South Park – and rather than cure it we just throw money at it. To really drive the futility of this ‘cure’ home, a white man in a big car drives up to an African village and screams excitedly that AIDS has been cured and that all people need to do is inject $180,000 into their veins…as if these people ever had the money to throw at AIDS in order to cure themselves.
I find this episode to be disturbing and profound. What did you think? What was your favorite part?