Kyle, as Jesus, Preaches Faith in the Economy and Saves South Park in “Margaritaville,” Episode 1303

We haven’t stopped hearing about the economy ever since it, well, started crapping all over our heads. But for some reason, I’ve only seen two intelligent pieces on the economy. The first was from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show and comes from his extended debate with Jim Cramer (of Fast Money). Indeed, Stewart had Cramer admitting that he had to change the terrible way he’d been treating the public through his ridiculous show. The second is this episode of South Park.

As the economy begins crashing all around us, everyone angrily points fingers at everyone else. The only person people start listening to, however, is Randy Marsh. He preaches an end to spending and a return to constant savings and old ways (sheets for clothes, llamas for transportation, squirrels for toys, etc.). The whole town follows his advice and nobody gets anything at all.

When Cartman blames the Jews for the problems of the economy, Kyle denies his baseless accusations and rebels against this no-spending spree that has overtaken South Park. He becomes a renegade Jew, or as it were, the Jesus of the economy. The economy only exists because we have faith in it, he tells people. It’s not some powerful and vengeful, angry god. This position is much akin to that uttered by the Wise One in episode 1004. Fascinating that this would be the position taken by the Jesus figure of the episode, causing us once again to recognize that South Park‘s thought on the existence of God, inferentially, is that God is most powerful as a human idea rather than an actual divine being.

Randy and his ruling council decide to stop Kyle and his blasphemous preaching and do so with the aid of Cartman (who is Judas in this biblical reenactment). The theological jokes abound, especially when someone on Randy’s council proposes that Kyle could be the only son of the economy. Father Maxi insists that this idea is totally retarded since any omnipotent being could have more than one son. Hmm…

At a Last Supper of pizza with his friend, Kyle vows to do something he always knew he’d have to do in order to restore people’s faith in the economy: he pays off everyone’s debt on his no limit platinum American Express, ultimately sacrificing himself (i.e. his economic future) for the sake of humanity and the economy.

All the while, we’re learning what’s actually going on in the economy as Stan runs from person to person trying to return a Margaritaville blender. Everybody keeps sending him to the institition above that’s now responsible for his return. Eventually he winds up at the Department of the Treasury and learns that the government makes its decisions in a totally random fashion: by sacrificing, as it were, chickens, and then letting them run around with their heads cut off until they land on some point of a grid that determines what action the government should take.

As a blog about South Park and religion, you can imagine that this was an episode that had me squirming with delight the entire time. For me, this will go down as one of the classics.

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Cartman Becomes The Coon in Order to Save South Park in Episode 1302, “Mysterion”

Episode Summary

Cartman, in an attempt to rid the town of crime in the augmenting crime during such tough times, adopts an alterego superhero identity known as The Coon. He dresses like a racoon, and it’s not entirely clear whether there’s an inappropriate slur being insinuated here. In any case, Cartman wants to spread the word about this new character and tries to draw attention to the Coon however he can, including throwing an unsuccessful event called Coonicon 2009.

All of Cartman’s efforts are for nought, however, because another superhero, Mysterion, has captured everyone’s attention. Pissed that his spotlight is shining on Mysterion, Cartman teams up with Professor Chaos and General Disarray (Butters and Dougie) in order to get rid of his primary competitor. By threatening to blow up a hospital (Cartman’s idea) if Mysterion doesn’t reveal his true identity, Professor Chaos forces a confrontation between himself and Mysterion.

A battle ensues, which the whole town watches, and when it’s over, Cartman convinces Mysterion to unmask himself in order to prevent threats on the public in the future.

They really screw us good by showing us the kid’s face, which, as a South Park face, is totally indistinguishable. Then they make some jokes about stuff we already knew without narrowing the identity down. Cartman, it seems, will remain the town’s superhero.

And then…

This episode nailed a number of things, particularly all of the superhero movies that have come out recently, like Batman, Watchmen and The Spirit.

I also appreciated the knocks against all of the obnoxious people who think that in 2 months Barack Obama should have changed everything. It takes a very long time for the effects of a president’s specific work to be felt in the general public and for people to assume that Obama could have changed anything by now is pure foolishness. Give the man time.

Good episode – pretty silly, and not fixated on some larger issue like many are. Cartman getting pissed off and cursing so much was surprisingly funny.

What did you think of the episode? How do you feel about Season 13 so far?

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How to Understand the Current World Financial Problems

If you have difficulty in understanding the current world financial situation, the following should help. It has been simplified.

Once upon a time in a village in India , a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each. The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.

The man bought thousands at $10 each, but, as the supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts.

The man further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.

Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going  back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply  of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his  assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.”

The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Welcome to WALL STREET. (also explains the real estate debacle)

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South Park Tonight – Two Episode Wednesdays

Without new episodes of South Park airing in the off season, viewers like you and me are guaranteed an hour of enjoyable watching between 9:30 and 10:30. Tonight’s episodes are Free Hat (609) and Over Logging (1206). Despite the great lead-in with the latter episode, now, I don’t think, is the time to go into the effect of the internet on our society…oh, hell, for just a second maybe.

I love the internet. It’s a symbol of globalization. “Globalization!” you say, amazed that I could support a process that has such a devastating effect on the nearly extinct Nabotu tribe of southern Guinea that hasn’t contacted the outside world in 476 years. Well, fuck the Nabotu, I say. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great for people to embrace and appreciate their own cultures, but I don’t think the world should slow down because the Nabotu want to keep circumcising their women. And what is the ultimate symbol of the world’s speed and progress and most importantly, interconnectedness: the Internet. With the Internet we have all become connected to each other and we are all able to see the way that others love, making it impossible for those living in crappy circumstances to continue accepting a crappy deal from their crappy governments. And so they advocate for change. The Internet also creates more economic dependency faster than ever before and it is this that I believe is the key factor for preventing wars between nations: economic relationships.

Take France and Germany, for example. Terrible enemies for hundreds of years, and the major continental enemies of the World Wars, and after the economic integration of the post war years (thank you Allies for not devastating Germany the way you could have) the two countries have never been closer and a war between them would only result in mutually assured destruction for either. No more continental-wide European wars are even possible. It’s beautiful. Thank you globalization and thank you Internet for speeding that up. And that brings us to episode 1206, about our society’s dependence on the Internet.

What do you think of Globalization? Do you support its trajectory?

Yes, we certainly are, and it’s not always healthy or reasonable but hopefully the trend is pendulum like and eventually we will all start to realize the importance of a healthier balance in our lives than we have now – not that some of us don’t still play outside, enjoy sunshine and summer activities, interact with loved ones normally, etc. So, watch episode 1206 if only for Randy cuming so thoroughly that he covers the room in his semen.

Episode 609, Free Hat, is a great episode for a lot of reasons, including the way it attacks the foolish Hollywood enhancement of movies that were great the way they were. Notably, when the boys bring Speilberg and Lucas on Nightline, Cartman explains that the two director-producers are only concerned with money. Why? Coppell asks. Because they’re all Jews, Cartman explains. Lucas mentions, a bit confused, that he’s not a Jew. What is the purpose of this anti-Semitic (and hilarious) demagoguery? Chapter 9 of The Zen of South Park, all about stereotyping and anti-Semitism, will explain.

Do you have thoughts or questions about this scene or other similar ones or where a particular stereotype generates from?

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A Momentary Digression

My father, a financial adviser and estate planner, sent me the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up0kCKr07kU

Since it was amusing I thought that I’d share it with you all. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one to harp on economic issues. I love to bitch about stuff, of course, but as a historian (la dee da) I try my hardest to see the long term picture – not the ups and downs of economic cycles, but the gross long-term economic trends of centuries of development. For instance, if you try to tell me that Bill Clinton had anything to do with the sustained economic growth during his presidency, I will heave. Don’t get me wrong – I’m no Republican (or Democrat for that matter). But I know that Clinton had nothing to do with what he and his wife love to claim he did. Larger and less comprehensible forces in the short-term provide a historical tapestry that we cannot even begin to understand or see this close to the events.

Historical work begins, I believe, the moment every person who was living at the particular moment under discussion is dead. Why? Because only then has every possible primary source been written. With no more possible primary sources to be created, the historical process can begin. Sounds weird, I know and it’s more complicated than that but there’s a place to start. When do you think that history begins? When do you think we can start writing history?

At the very least, the current economic situation provides quality fodder to create funny videos, and as historians we must remember that there are far larger forces at work moving history (no, not God) than we can imagine and this seemingly relevant and immediately pressing economic situation is just a drop in a larger ocean. So who wants to go swimming? Speaking of swimming, have everyone’s pools opened since Memorial Day is behind us? Got any good summer reading recommendations to share with me and other readers?

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