13. You’re Getting Old, Ass Burgers (Season 15, Episodes 07 + 08)
At close to 15 years running, it was no real surprise when the end of the first run of season 15 brought seemingly crushing observations on ageing, depression, and the horror of repetition in a world where almost everything trending is either a bad copy of something better, or some mindless crap you’d rather ignore but can’t because to stay relevant you need to keep up with the latest bullshit (and staying relevant is your MO, if you’re successful).
In this context, You’re Getting Old contained some of the most sincere reflections on pain and disillusionment from a mainstream comedy show in years. Picture the process: most if not all of the “art objects” of the present are complete crap compared to the ones you used to admire or at least think were cool. But why?
As you discover reality in ever deepening degrees, you drift further and further away from the social spheres that define these stupidities, because, remember, these are in place to profit off morons. Oh, you never saw it that way before?
You know despite what everyone’s raving about, most of the options are about the same, i.e. mediocre, and you’d rather not have any of it if ultimately you’re going to have to choose between the proverbial giant douche and turd sandwich. At that point, everything popular seems like diarrhea.
“No, I mean it sounds like someone is shitting in my ears.” -Stan
This is the dilemma facing Stan, though he becomes an emo, self-pitying cynic, and to compound it, all of a sudden his parents are talking about separating. Out of this deep conflict we get an explosive burst of humor, including the idea that the majority will always choose the shittiest movie in June because, you know, they’re fucking retarded.
“The president is a duck – or […] whatever, fuck you, you’ll pay to go see it.”
“Adam Sandler shits in your ears, eyes, nose and mouth.”
Then as if reborn, for the start of the second run of the season, South Park pulls Ass Burgers out of its ass. A simple realization that seems like a huge epiphany when married to a sort of lame The Matrix spoof: Ass Burgers can’t be real, “that’s just mean.” The overall result is a brilliant two-parter that gives us that familiar formula, with that not-so-secret ingredient: reckless low-brow humor with a narrative that makes a topical point, while the jokes are good and the comic timing is better.
“You mean little hamburgers grow in your butthole?” -Butters
All of this comes full-circle when Cartman’s own secret ingredient is revealed, as he becomes the embodiment of the shortcuts taken by the fast food industry.
The conclusion is that this disillusionment does you no good on its own, yet protagonist Stan is left hanging, and uncertain on how to deal with these broad scale ideological problems others are oblivious to.