South Park has been a staple of the comedy world since the ’90s. Thus far, there have been twenty-five seasons of the show. The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are responsible for the bulk of its creative process. As such, South Park has a famously fast turnaround on episodes, which allows it to parody current events almost as soon as they happen. In August of 2021, South Park was renewed through 2027, so it appears that the socially scathing comedy series will be skewering powerful institutions of individuals for years to come.
In place of immediately creating another season of the series, South Park’s creators have opted to release a series of films. From 2021 to 2021, the first of the new batch of South Park specials was released. They primarily focused on the Covid-19 pandemic. In the pandemic specials, no one was safe from the scorn of Parker and Stone. Anti-vaxxers were mocked for their refusal to accept the well-established science of immunization. Masks took on the moniker “chin diapers,” a reference to the fact that many folks seem unable to wear their mask properly, instead opting to affix them under their mouths, and the powerful individuals who brought on the lockdowns without considering the ramifications they would have on average individuals are mercilessly mocked. Following the pandemic specials, Parker and Stone took aim at streaming services in South Park: The Streaming Wars, a two-part epic.
So, what is the message of the recently released South Park: The Streaming Wars specials?
An Inundation of Content Leaves Everyone in an Entertainment Drought
The modern media consumer has an almost inconceivable number of entertainment options. There are nearly as many streaming services as there are stars in the sky. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The innumerable options can mean that everyone gets to consume content relevant to their life and interest. However, it is often the case that the overwhelming stimuli brought on by subscribing to multiple streaming services create a sort of paralysis by indecision.
Each streaming service is in a constant state of competition with the other content platforms, which creates a whole host of issues for the modern media consumer. Streaming services seek to accrue the most significant amount of content possible in order to attract the broadest swaths of the population. However, this collection of content is often carried out with a blatant disregard for the quality of said content, which can leave entertainment seekers with an infinite supply of shows in their feed, but nothing truly engaging to watch.
Let Them Drink Pi Pi
The competition between streaming services has come to characterize the contemporary media landscape. However, though it seems like a new service is popping up every day, an overabundance of streaming services won’t necessarily be a permanent problem.
Pi Pi, the nefarious owner of the Pi Pi’s Splashtown waterpark that had previously appeared in an earlier season of South Park, knows exactly what the effects of the streaming wars will be. He is perfectly alright with the drought, as it means he will be able to export his waterpark’s excess urine for mass consumption. Pi Pi represents the heads of streaming services, which can be uninterested in the quality of the programming they produce and release.
The Effects of Climate Change Will Further the Interests of Big Business
The titular streaming wars in the South Park: The Streaming Wars specials are bought about by a drought, which is incredibly prevalent the country over, especially in light of the unseasonably hot June in which the specials were released. South Park inevitably runs out of water, which is exactly what the businesspeople involved in the water transactions had intended.
On South Park, climate change is represented by ManBearPig, a beastly hybrid creature with a propensity for rending helpless Coloradans in two. In the South Park: The Streaming Wars specials, ManBearPig returns as an associate of Pi Pi, the aforementioned waterpark owner. Though Manbearpig, at the end of South Park: The Streaming Wars “Part II,” mauls Pi Pi, the fact that the beast worked for the business owner throughout the two specials is an interesting commentary on the ways in which corporate elites can benefit from the horrors of climate change.
Obviously, South Park is not above sophomoric humor. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been unapologetically offensive since the series was released almost two decades ago. There is little suggestion that the two will curb the problematic parodying in future content. South Park: The Streaming Wars proved that South Park’s creators are still capable of crafting relevant social satire. It is incredibly exciting to speculate how Parker and Stone will tackle all the strange goings-on of modern society over the next couple of years.