From the moment I brought up last night’s episode of South Park and saw the title “World War Zimmerman” I immediately thought of How I Met Your Mother. Okay, bear with me here. For those who do or don’t know the notion of the “Oh” moment from that show it’s when you realize something personal about someone that will be a deal breaker. This doesn’t necessarily apply to the entity that is the most satirical cartoon on television but needless to say the word uttered from my mouth at the episode’s title. But it wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker more or less a question of “what are they up to now?” What they were up to was probably one of the show’s better attempts at satire combining both Brad Pitt’s summer zombie blockbuster and the controversial George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.
From the moment Cartman starts acting all friendly around Token and borderline racist you know you are getting into a Cartman heavy episode with Kyle even uttering “He’s doing it again.” Cut to Cartman having a series of nightmares modeled after World War Z but replacing zombies with black people rioting and you have a certified Cartman episode. Let’s be honest it’s cringe worthy when we explore the racist mind of Cartman and the show has on numerous occasions but those episodes tend to be creatively the most cohesive of any of them.
The best parts of this episode tend to be the worst morally to laugh at. Not that there is anything funny about plane crashes but the reoccurring gag of Cartman getting airliners to fall out of the sky was pretty hilarious. A lot of this helps if you have seen World War Z and the moments mocked here were pretty spot on. I especially enjoyed Cartman’s nightmares because it’s very expected of the extreme Archie Bunker that manifests inside of him. Also having him provide all the voices in his dreams is beautifully egotistical and funny.
Everything for the most part is pitched perfect but not everything was necessary and I point to Cartman’s poem and his subsequent assembly rap session. Neither one of these benefits the overall structure of the story but they do serve as catalysts for the chaos that ensues for the remainder of the episode. Cartman is always one for chaos and normally in these racially charged episodes things go haywire but instead of the outside world being sensible everyone seems to be on the same page as him. Let’s be honest the white people fear of black people rioting post Zimmerman verdict was true if only in small doses so taking it to a pandemic level was quite hilarious.
The ending sells the episode well with George Zimmerman being executed after shooting Cartman mistaking him for a black man. Combine this with Cartman enacting the stand your ground law and shooting Token and you have the purpose here without having to explain. South Park a long time ago did away with the moral endings that once encompassed the earliest seasons leaving the viewer to figure it out for themselves. It’s a testament to both Matt and Trey that they trust their viewers to be sensible in figuring out the point and that’s why “World War Zimmerman” works so well.
I know ultimately this episode will divide the show’s fan base between those who always admire what the show can muster versus those looking for the usual barrage of “dick and fart jokes” but to me this episode breaks solid ground in creativity. “World War Zimmerman” wasn’t perfect and not necessarily a laugh riot but it is too damn clever for its own good and Cartman at his most paranoid. I say after this review we should all be cool with this. Fist bump, bro?
All Images Credit: Comedy Central