SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details about the season premiere.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s season 21 of South Park started up tonight on Comedy Central with what, in relative terms, might be described as a subtle takedown of white supremacists. When a screaming crowd of disenfranchised, Confederate flag-waving townsfolk holler, in the manner of the Charlottesville rioters, “We will not be replaced!” their anger wasn’t directed at African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, and immigrants. Instead, it was aimed at Alexa, Siri, Echo and their producers, for replacing human servants with computer-generated ones.
Of course, the show’s attitude toward Alexa was balanced with earnestly crude humor as Eric and his friends got the Amazon assistant to repeat obscene phrases with lamb-like innocence, prompting laughter verging on hysteria. (Think of adding “hairy balls,” “smelly tampon buggers” and the like to your “shopping list,” if you must.)
But when Randy Marsh’s “White People Renovating Houses” cable show and business are threatened by the noisy protests, he proposes a solution that finds the unemployed neighbors replacing the machines. And they don’t much like subservience. When they protest the “indignity” of such menial labor, Randy rants back, “Sorry you didn’t go to college so you have to take the jobs you can get. Coal mining and truck driving are not exactly jobs of the future. You’re stuck in another time, afraid to change.”
Only then does the topicality come on with blunt force, as one of the men storms off shouting, “Muslims trying to kill us, black people rioting, Mexicans having babies – I say, ‘Kill ’em all!’ ”
Uncharacteristically, the episode ended on the up beat, more or less, with peace reigning as long as white people could keep tearing down that wall separating the kitchen and the dining room in order to get the space they deserve.