South Park Tackles Ye’s Antisemitism and Hits It Out of The Park
Last week’s season 26 premiere of South Park dealt with the thorny topic of Kanye West’s antisemitism. And to my mind they – sorry for the pun – hit it out of the park.
Here are some of the episode’s highlights:
As the website Comic Book Resources writes:
Thursday’s season 26 premiere lampoons the rapper’s Twitter screeds and infamous appearance on InfoWars by having Eric Cartman serve as Ye’s mouthpiece. Or, more specifically, as the mouthpiece of the cherub over his shoulder, “Cupid Me,” who recently found Jesus and rebranded as “Cupid Ye.”
In an effort to break up Kyle Broflovski’s new friendship with Tolkien Black, Cartman spreads a rumor that Kyle controls Hollywood and, to try and make it personal for Tolkien, that Jews are imposters who stole Black identity.
Immediately these beliefs, delivered by the school’s most accomplished antisemite, scan as ludicrous and incoherent — but people still buy into them. Students start pitching their films to Kyle in the hallway. Randy pleads with Gerald, Kyle’s dad, to make the industry less “woke.” But the Black-Jewish friendship of Tolkien and Kyle proves pretty resilient.
It’s only when Cartman, under the influence of Cupid Ye, makes a TV appearance (dressed in the masked getup Ye wore to Alex Jones), that things begin to fray. As Cartman titters behind a hedge, a point is made: when Jewish people and Black people are pitted against each other, it’s the bigots who win.
While the Season 26 premiere wasn’t short on laughs, South Park also obviously opposed Ye’s comments and anti-Semitism in general.
South Park also repurposes one of its oldst devices in its stance against Ye’s anti-Semitism. is one of the show’s oldest tricks. Many episodes ended with Kyle or sometimes Stan talking about what they learned, meaning that audiences could miss or ignore any message. Season 26 brings this back and then takes it a step further by making the social commentary a prominent part of the story. “Cupid Ye” shows Kyle using historical facts to refute the stereotype that Jewish people control Hollywood.
The scene is immediately followed by a relevant joke — the closing credits list Stone, who describes himself as “ethnically Jewish” per the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, as the show’s sole creator. However, the monologue makes clear that South Park stands against Ye’s comments and what they represent. “Cupid Ye” puts its message front and center, breaking with the show’s tradition of being funny first.
The Forward is also complimentary of the episode’s treatment and correctly notes:
At the same time, the episode stresses that, of all the antisemitic tropes, control of Hollywood is a more benign strain.
While in the past Stone and Parker have countered antisemitism by validating its crazier claims in the reality of the show, famously giving Kyle “Jew Gold,” they are taking a more critical view this time around.
While South Park tends to be an equal opportunity offender, their stance here was way less ambiguous. And I believe although the show is not for everyone, this episode’s treatment of the topic of antisemitism was important. Not just because it shone a light on the absurdity of these beliefs, but it did so to a huge audience of mainly young people.