One of the little miracles of pop culture, South Park proceeds with its obsessions about the nature of freedom and the (im)precision of language, its mass-culture insults and its cult-culture shout-outs. It doesn’t care whether we get all the references, or take offense at the jokes, which only makes us love it all the more.
And which makes us masochists far happier than Kyle and the two people who were yoked together and made to form the “HUMANCENTiPAD,” the title and subject of the season premiere.
Joining together two wildly disparate elements, one of the best-known entities in the world (Apple and its products such as the iPad) and one of the least-known (the cult film The Human Centipede), the half hour was an unspeakable pleasure. I mean that almost literally: If you told someone (or described in a blog post) that this week’s South Park was about a new Steve Jobs invention that conjoins three humans, “mouth to butthole,” their waste products powering a new tablet device — why, any decent person would be repulsed, correct?
Count me among the indecent, I’m afraid. The scabrously funny half hour also worked in a plot about Cartman becoming petulantly enraged at his mother for not buying him an iPad and doing many spluttering variations on the old joke formula “I like to get kissed before I get f—ed.” Trey Parker and Matt Stone take their language seriously, which means that their South Park characters took the phrase literally, and the first thing you knew, Cartman was appearing on Dr. Phil being treated with Phil-istine piety as the victim of his mother’s supposed assault.
Combine both story lines — the HUMANCENTiPAD one hinged on the notion that people don’t read the Apple agreements they sign off on, and thus allow themselves to be tracked at any location and human-centipeded — and you see that the themes are Parker-Stone perennials: Knowledge really matters; many people are lazy and thus prey to exploitation. Humanist misanthropes, Parker and Stone are some kinda evangelical libertarians.
All this, plus Highlander jokes. And was it a coincidence that in my TV market, at least, the first ad during the first commercial break was for the Motorola Xoom tablet? Brilliant touch.