South Park surprised us this week with the unannounced release of a new Paramount+ special called “Not Suitable for Children.”
Coming hot off of the success that October’s “Joining the Panderverse” special garnered, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have shifted their focus from ripping Disney a new one to taking online influencers down a couple of notches with this savage satirical soiree.
And in the classic South Park fashion, the messaging comes in the form of full-frontal male nudity.
Following the tried-and-true story structure of a typical South Park episode, we’re presented with both an A story and a B story.
In the primary narrative, the South Park boys find themselves obsessed with a new sugary sports drink called Cred. The beverage is sold by a popular YouTube vlogger named Logan LeDouche. Cred has many unique flavors, including Jungle Punch, Slay Lemonade, Gooble Grape, Candy Wandy Gummy Yums, and Jelly Roll Midnight Waffle House.
It doesn’t take long for every student at South Park Elementary to seek out every flavor as a means to secure popularity, or “cred.” Meanwhile, Stan Marsh’s father, Randy, decides to open an Only Fans account that prominently features his exposed genitals.
Randy’s wife, Sharon, decides to give him a taste of his own medicine, and opens her own competing Only Fans account in this South Park episode. Desperate to “beat his wife” on every social media platform, Randy seeks out sponsorship so he can rack up subscribers, and generate a supplementary income.
Operating under the assumption that the content he puts out isn’t intended for children, Randy finds out that Cred is trending, and starts producing content in which he pours the sugary drink on his private parts for views. This is where South Park‘s satirical construct becomes clear. Though Randy’s Only Fans page becomes a massive success, he’s also unwittingly exposing himself to minors.
But since we’re talking about South Park, there has to be a semantic pun somewhere within the narrative. As it turns out, Randy’s videos are also inspiring coal miners (not minors) to post mining content that prominently features their exposed genitals as well.
As outlandish as this premise may seem, this South Park episode delivers a scathing criticism of online influencer culture. While adult content creators assert that their content isn’t geared toward children, they do so with a wink and a nudge, suggesting that children are, in fact, their primary demographic. In other words, even though adult content is said to be regulated, kids will always find a way to find it if they have access to the internet.
And South Park’s satire works perfectly in this context because how closely it mirrors real life. Kids will always follow viral trends, and enterprising adults will always find a way to capitalize on their innocence to make a quick buck. Through Randy’s carelessness, the dark side of influencer culture is revealed in a way that’s hard not to look at.
As the title suggests, Trey Parker and Matt Stone put their money where their mouth is, and made a South Park episode that’s truly not suitable for children. This adds yet another layer of intended irony, because most long-time fans of the series started watching it when they were just children themselves. In other words, not only is “Not Suitable for Children” taking down influencers, it’s also a nod to the show’s entire legacy.
I enjoy marketing, technology and business. I help businesses and brands connect with their ideal customer profiles and build products that excite them and solve their problems.