South Park “Vaccination” special marks pinnacle of COVID-19, conspiracy satire

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Cody Wagner, Entertainment Writer

Reading Time: 8 minutes

President Joseph Biden has announced his goal of making adults eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. South Park aired the “Vaccination Special” signifying creators Matt Stone and Trey Parkers’ hilarious interpretation about the subject that aired March 10 following the “Pandemic Special” that was released in September. The episode itself was a relatable and hilarious depiction of the current situation regarding the Covid-19 vaccinations and the controversial distribution tactics.

I understood the overall seriousness of the situation as it was expressed in a silly yet heartfelt fashion. I loved how it combined elements such as friendship, distress, connection, and hilarity as it brilliantly and carefully analyzed the current state of our country from a social, environmental, and political point of view. Specials such as these help viewers to ignore the state of heartbreak and frustration that we are all experiencing at the moment, as this special allows for people to just sit back, watch, relate, and laugh as it explores issues on an impactful and insightful level many shows wouldn’t even dare cross. 

Along with the subject of the vaccines, the episode targets the various conspiracy theories that have set people on edge during the past year particularly targeting QAnon, the right-wing political group whose sole purpose is to relay conspiracy theories to the public eye regarding the various political, social, and economical situations as it is one of the phenomena mentioned in the episode. .  South Park explores these subjects through a hilarious, thought-provoking, metaphorical analysis that expresses powerful messages about the drastic influence the pandemic has had upon people, relationships and mindsets while also sticking with the witty, over the top, inventive formula of comedy that fans have come to love.

The episode begins with the townspeople eagerly waiting behind a line. The setup is created to look like a VIP private club where the members are strictly elderly people over the age of 65 when really it’s just another Walgreens you would find in your hometown. The episode highlights the issues with the current plan for vaccine distribution. Elders and essential workers are capable of receiving the vaccination first while the others angrily and aggressively demand to be vaccinated.

The main focus regarding the specific groups lies heavily on the elderly as they brag about receiving the vaccine, creating an image of authority and power over the younger people of South Park. One scene at the beginning shows an old lady walking into the Walgreens, and before she enters she looks towards the angry and erratic crowd gathered outside the store and simply says, “79 bitches,” as she leaves the area while also flipping off the crowd in the process

 Besides the focus on the current groups qualified to get the vaccine we also get to see the return of Mr. Garrison as he rejoins the community of South Park. There’s just one problem. He was an empirical image that relayed the attitude and vicious nature that is former President Donald Trump. Garrison exemplified the arrogant and egotistical attitude as he played the role of the president throughout the past 5 seasons. Garrison’s attitude and personality were distinctive and indistinguishable from that of Trump’s as his persona is relayed through physical appearance regarding his overly tan facial structure while demonstrating horrendous acts of arrogance, egotism, selfishness, and dominance creating a character easily identifiable as a dim-witted fool that sparked major controversy within our political agenda. 

Garrison’s upright and lack of attentiveness towards serious subjects is what correlated his characters’ ark to that of Trumps. In season 19 episode 2 Garrison begins to dive deep into the political agenda as South Park faces an imminent situation regarding Canadian immigrants entering into the U.S. As a response Garrison wears a hat that says “Where has my country gone” eventually evolving into the slogan “Make America Great Again” while also going to the extreme by literally fucking the Canadian prime minister to death.

There are other moments of exemplary genius as to the correlation of Garrison to Trump, one particular example would be when Garrison mistakes the word “Nigeria” for the “N” word while also displaying dominance and carelessness towards his members of staff by engaging in explicit acts of debauchery expressing dominance and control over the U.S. government. Racial slander,  One of Garrison’s main phrases he uses on numerous levels is “Let’s fuck ’em all to death.” Even though Trump has never said these words himself, this sentence is expressed by a character whose demeanor and attitude is one that is based upon bullheadedness and lack of empathy, as he strives for absolute appreciation and power within the U.S. political system through the influence of provocative action. 

The episode expresses the message of Trump’s exile within the office of president and shows us as Garrison is welcomed with distrust and anger from many of the townspeople. All except The White family. Yes, they are actually named “The Whites.” Upon meeting Garrison Mr. White says, “It’s You. I just want you to know I was always on your side. In fact, all of us whites were really on our side.” This is a ballsy, yet realistic statement from the creators as it sends a not-so-subtle message relating to the overall largely based geographic racial group who supported Trump during his time in and out of office while also relating to the engagement of questionable political actions such as the deadly attacks on the capital earlier this year.

Mr. White is later revealed to be part of a secret organization of right-wing extremists who believe the vaccine is a dangerous weapon of destruction involving microchips that turn people into zombies while also envisioning various popularized figures such as the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks and others to be involved in an elite organization dedicated to molesting and killing little boys. This reflects the beliefs of followers involved in the widely discussed radical conservative group known as QAnon as their mission is to take back America and reclaim our freedom. 

QAnon was created in 2017. Their primary focus relies on conspiracy theories and the conservation of conservatism. The QAnon people take control of the town as Mr. Garrison enters his original field of work as a teacher at South Park Elementary. On his second day in class, he is welcomed to only two attending students. The other students were enrolled in private tutoring sessions enacted by like-minded parents to express the backlash and internal distrust toward Garrison’s previous position as president.

This particular situation is a perfect example of the feedback received by many of Trump’s supporters as well as other Americans alike as they disown and refuse to recognize the man that was once deemed the highest position of power in the U.S.  who is now expressed as a simple man of the population struggling for redemption and forgiveness from his peers around him. This environment of judgment and abandonment is overturned with the support of “The White Family” as well as members of QAnon who view Garrison to be a symbol of favoritism and power over the people. This moment as well as the whole message of the QAnon culture instantly displayed factors of honesty blended with thorough dialogue as it is presented in a comedic and memorable fashion. The whole premise was just a big, steaming pile of shit towards the Trumpets as they believe Trump to be the savior of America similarly reflected within the premise of Garrison’s portrayal as the previous president. 

Finally, there’s the most important plotline of all, relating to the recognizable systematic formula that has been evoked in South Park’s overall storylines and plot structure within years prior, that involves the investment of four boys from Colorado named Stan, Kenny, Kyle, and Cartman as we witness their wildly eccentric and entertaining journeys that have made audiences laugh, cry, and piss their pants creating a loveable and admirable connection with the show as well as its flawed, yet irresistible characters.

The boys struggle to fix a prank conducted by Kenny and Cartman earlier in the episode to gain back the respect of their peers, while also facing hardships involving their friendship due to the impact of the pandemic and the different emotions each individual faces. The boy’s story is set up through another one of Cartman’s atrocious and menacing pranks followed by the help of Kenny. The two boys prank their teacher (Mrs. Nelson) as they place a ketchup packet on her seat so when she sits on the packet to make it look like she had her period. The prank works out as both boys relay inner satisfaction by mocking and laughing at the teacher.

The response that is displayed is of Mrs. Nelson entering a fit of rage as she feels deeply repulsed and disgusted by the event that just unfolded while also being infuriated with the implementation of the recent restrictions disregarding certain people such as teachers who cannot receive their COVID-19 shots. Mrs. Nelson then leaves the classroom refusing to return until she receives the vaccine through government approval. 

Subsequently, this disastrous event sends our four loveable comrades on a journey to get the vaccines in hopes to fulfill their teachers return to academic practice while also ensuring that Mr. Garrison does not fill the position as a replacement for Mrs. Nelson due to his unfavorable personality along with gaining the respect of their peers. Through their journey barriers are encountered in terms of the status of their disintegrating friendship thanks to the impact of the pandemic, the moral determination as to the distribution of the vaccine along with the influence of QAnon rebellion. Each element is tied together in a satisfying yet abrupt conclusion that could foreshadow the end of this dark and sorrowful era while conveying a strong message that many should take into consideration. This is enacted through the intellectual and creative writing process that has resulted in the success and admiration of the show itself leaving it to remain as one of the biggest and influential adult animated series of all time. 

It is later revealed that the tutors themselves are actually members of QAnon as an attempt to instill their dimwitted and exaggerated philosophies into the minds of the children. Their influence becomes engulfed into the children’s minds as they try to stop the spread and distribution of the vaccine based upon absurd conspiracy theories. Through these beliefs the opposing force against the pro-vaccination group created by Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman known as “Kommunity Kids” in an attempt to deliver vaccines to the staff at South Park elementary leading to the confrontational arrangement of an opposing side of radicalized little kids known as Lil’ Q-ties.

The Lil’ Q-ties represent the children’s version of QAnon as their hair-brained and inefficient theories are motivators relating to the overall incarceration and destruction of the vaccine based upon falsely examined conspiracy theories. The Lil’ Q-ties join forces with members of QAnon as to signify a horrific and disastrous battle to be waged by both sides. 

 This image of division is clearly relative to the disintegration of both political parties as it reveals the extreme lengths each side will go to in preserving their beliefs and expressing their voices. I was able to identify the whole setup as a reversal to the riots that unfolded at the capital. Instead of the aggressively militarized group of conservatives trying to enter a building, as they are gathered in an intimidating and ferocious formation ready to stop the spread of the vaccine by any means necessary. This scene serves to express the lack of understanding and resentment each group carries all based upon opposing viewpoints resulting in the division between both parties as their anger and disgust towards one another continues to grow in a time where the ideals of community and understatement are needed to be implemented more than ever.

There’s one comical line that really got to me that I would consider to be the highlighted quote of the whole episode. Cartman, as he faces the Lil’ Q-ties rebellion states “Look, you guys have a right to say and believe whatever you want, ok? But what you believe is really stupid.” This quote is just perfect as it expresses not my opinion regarding groups such as QAnon but approaches the situation in a blunt and honest fashion that is a style of communication favored by conservatives themselves as they rallied behind Trump’s willingness to get in people’s faces and tell them the scenario as it is with no remorse or emotion. It can be seen as reverse psychology relating to verbal expression as the aggressive and blatant tone that is seen from Trump and loved by conservatives is used as a weapon against this group giving the other side the upper hand manipulating one side’s strategy of effectiveness against them. 

South Park’s “The Vaccination Special” expresses social, political, and personal analysis of the drastic and impactful state of decay due to the Covid pandemic identifying the vaccine and its controversial distributive restrictions while also highlighting the various viewpoints and controversial opinions regarding the subject of the vaccine. Trey Parker and Matt Stone deliver another hilarious and thought-provoking episode that relates to the current state of our country in the form of radical conservatives, outlandish theories, the overwhelming mindset relating to the distribution of the vaccine, the former president, as well as the deteriorating relationship of four boys whose influence has ignited laughter, happiness, connection, and investment throughout the shows long-standing and successful career.

Parker and Stone wrap all these issues into one, hour-long special that expresses insightful messages related to the state of decay within our nation while also following their preposterous and ludicrous formula that has created investment and apparition throughout its course of influence within television. 

I can’t wait to see what Parker and Stone have to offer next in their provocative and knowledgeable series as issues will continue to arise within our country as South Park eagerly awaits to poke fun at new and controversial situations all through innovative methods of comedic genius.