PODCAST-Dead Kids was a boringly botched season opening episode for South Park. Spoiler alert – this was a shoddy episode even with ubiquitous information to grow plots. Safety Expert David Perrodin reviews the much-anticipated, taboo-soaked topic of school shootings relative to how the narrative was approached by a generational stalwart animated, edgy comedy show that had fearlessly taken on Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, politicians of every stripe and self-important celebrities.
DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode: https://tinyurl.com/SDP82
WHAT WENT WRONG?
So how did writers Trek Parker and Matt Stone completely fumble away the obvious storylines? “I’m not advocating for the show or condoning humor as a conduit to a discussion about school safety,” remarked Perrodin. “But, South Park’s an established player in black satire and had an opportunity to expose the thick, swampy rhetoric around school shootings and the nearly $3 billion school safety industry – and this episode wasn’t controversial, accurate or even interesting. It didn’t seem that the writers dodged the key themes as much as they weren’t informed of them,” added Perrodin.
PARKER AND STONE’S BIZARRE APPROACH
The writers chose to stick with surface level psychology and the axle for the episode was the worn premise that the emotional / hormonal response from Sharon (Stan’s mom) was the sole driving force for “change” when it is known beyond a doubt that moms, dads and students equally emerge as outspoken champions of change for school safety. The episode was on the mark that nobody has a solid plan to actually decrease school violence.
CARTMAN COULD HAVE SHINED, BUT HE INSTEAD WAS CAST AS A CREEPY RACIST
The episode began with Cartman being frustrated that he had failed a test, despite the fact that he cheated on Token, who received an “A.” Cartman quickly noticed that Token had erased his initial answers, purposefully causing him to fail. As Cartman often does, he turned this small issue into something much bigger, and he believed that it was all a race-related cover-up. He believed that Token wanted him to fail the test because there were “rumors” floating around that Cartman hated Black Panther. I suppose an interesting subplot, but it had not place in this episode.
FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS WITH THE STORYLINE
- School shootings don’t repeat at a school. Yet, there were seemingly weekly shootings at South Park Elementary.
- There is always a strong push for fortification following a school shooting, such as more cameras and metal detectors – yet none of this was included in the episode.
- Hundreds of police respond to school shootings and the response ends up overwhelming the scene.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY
- Replace the Black Panther companion story with Cartman seizing the opportunity to feverishly lead a charge for changes in laws to promote school safety – and then have his reasons be for personal gain, as follows suit with his profile and personal interests – maybe getting on TV, selling a book deal, etc. So many school safety advocates want “safer” schools and have no idea of the empirical research that might actually bring about this goal.
- If the writers decide to keep the recurring shootings at South Park Elementary, then add more overt fortifications after each incident, a few bollards, then the entire school circled in bollards, bullet proof glass, retina scans, make it like TSA security, cameras, drones, robot security guards, sweep past the school store and have “bulletproof” backpacks and binders. Again, this mirrors and exaggerates reality. In the episode, the school environment changed very little from shooting to shooting. To hammer this point of over-fortification, the school, or so-called safety experts could have argued that all students and parents must have “security chip” implants and offer weekly community school assemblies about school safety that are simply commiseration sessions and opportunities to point out societal flaws and not remotely touch upon an actionable solution.
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Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com
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