South Park is at its best when it's smartly subversive and tackling real-world problems like politics, controversial social issues, and blatant hypocrisy. But it's also great when it's silly and sophomoric. Season 15 kicked off on Wednesday with "HUMANCENTiPAD," which presented the best of both worlds while not quite sticking to one or the other. The result was an episode that showed the cartoon still has plenty left in the tank.
Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone went after the low-hanging fruit, but that fruit was oh-so tasty. The episode's commentary on society attacked consumerism, specifically techno-geeks' and hipsters' fascination with Apple and its new wonder tablet, the iPad. A few sad people out there are over-obsessed with the company and all its products, and use the iPad as much as a status symbol as they do to check their email. South Park went there, and went there effectively.
The episode's running gag had to do with Kyle never reading the Terms & Conditions associated with the software updates that we all click "Agree" to in a second, and I laughed every time someone else in the South Park universe admitted he reads such documents word for word. South Park has a way of pointing out the obvious shortcuts we take even when serious matters are at hand, and this was one of the show's best. Seriously, we could all be signing our lives away just because iTunes 10.4.3 is out.
Kyle's glossing-over of what we all gloss over almost every day resulted in the episode's sophomoric half: the one dealing with Apple's new product, the HUMANCENTiPAD, a poke at the cult movie The Human Centipede. Kyle became the middle link in a human experiment that sews one person's mouth to another's anus and—well, you can probably guess how it works. Let's just say it's really gross when the lead person has to go to the bathroom. But it's also really funny.
The episode wasn't airtight, but that doesn't really matter if you're laughing. Who cares that the part about Steve Jobs wanting the HUMANCENTiPAD to be able to read didn't make much sense? Watching the lead Japanese man eat cuttlefish and asparagus and launch his feces into Kyle's mouth made up for it. Seeing Cartman crying is always hilarious. And pointing out the ridiculousness behind the cult of Apple gave us just enough to talk about today.
And that's what South Park does so well. It drags our minds back into the gutters of kindergarten with poop jokes while intelligently pointing out flaws with society's accepted behavior. It's early on in Season 15, but so far so good for the kids from Colorado.
Do you want an iPad2? What would you do for one?