South Park is two-thirds of the way through its Season 19 finale. In the latest episode, “Truth and Advertising,” the boys start to ask questions about the wave of political correctness that’s taken over the town. Their principal, PC Principal, is also curiously missing, as are Super School News editor Jimmy and possible human advertisement Leslie.
Once they start wondering about South Park’s strangeness, they start questioning themselves, too. And Kyle, in particular, has had a strangely quiet season, which his pals notice is very out of character. What’s up with him this season?
Kyle got shut down very early in Season 19. He didn’t want to call Caitlyn Jenner “stunning and brave” in the season premiere — “Stunning and Brave” — despite her accomplishments. Everyone in South Park, led by the new PC frat, rallied against Kyle while he tried and failed at giving his trademark episode-closing “moral of the story” speech. Since then, he’s been virtually silent. In one episode, for example, his father gets megalomaniacal about being the town’s premiere Yelper, but not even close-to-him craziness stirs him to action.
Now, in “Truth and Advertising,” his friends turn to him for some righteous guidance, but he’s just not interested in trying. The guidance counselor Mr. Mackey even calls Kyle into his office to get his help in fighting back against PC Principal, but nothing moves him. The boys later try to find out where Jimmy disappeared to, so he hops on the computer to do some research. Unfortunately, all the pop-up ads distract them twice, sidetracking them to the ice cream parlor and sneaker store, instead of learning about the as-yet-unraveled conspiracy.
At the end of the episode, Kyle and Stan get into a bit of a spat over Kyle’s inactivity. Nathan, the fill-in Super School News editor, watches happily as the two best friends get into a fistfight. Finally, Leslie goes to Kyle’s house to get him to join with her and the advertisements — who may be involved with the PC frat?
(For what it’s worth, the show’s plot lines are not really supposed to make sense yet. However, there is a knowing Ex Machina reference that might point in the right direction.)
Although Kyle doesn’t really do anything in “Truth and Advertising” — by design — he’s set up for an epic season finale. He’s traditionally the show’s beacon of light; He speaks the truth when everyone else in town is entirely full of shit. So while South Park’s progress — bringing political correctness and getting a Whole Foods in the community — looks good on the surface, the motives are questionable. With the PC frat leading the way, there’s not been much individuality. It’s all mob mentality.
In the finale, it’s likely that Kyle will be creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s loudest voice. He can stand up and give the nuanced view that the season has been leading toward. For Parker and Stone, political correctness is good, but can’t be accepted blindly. Mindlessly believing in a good cause is just as harmful as following a hateful one.
Maybe he does it by defeating the sponsored content and advertisements that seemingly distract us everyday, but Kyle is ready to be a know-it-all again in South Park. He’s been too absent. It’s time for some heavy-handedness.