Last night's episode of South Park started out with the show's darkest bit ever, and for a show that's used everything from AIDS to Cannibalism for gags that's saying something; a deeply uncomfortable scene involving a triple homicide which I was surprised made it to air after the recent string of high profile shootings. After that the show did a spot on imitation of Glenn Beck that occasionally ventured into satire but didn't really do as much as it could. Partially because Beck is such a parody of himself that its hard to out do him.
What this did signal is that South Park, one of the last libertarian voices in the media, is asserting itself in a more directly political way, by going after a self-proclaimed libertarian but a talking points spouting Republican in Beck. Lest liberals feel too comfy, the show also featured a jab at the ACLU.
The show's punchline was hillarious, but took forever to develop, and seemed an odd parallel that didn't work with the main thrust of the episode; Dances With Smurfs being the inspiration for a major hollywood film coming out next month.
While South Park hasn't been very funny the second half of this season, at least aside from its mid-season opener, a warmly transgressive farewell to Michael Jackson and Billy Mays, the last few episodes have really shown how important the show is in terms of a television show being part of a dialogic conversation. Last week's episode, The "F" word, may have not been as great as "Apologies to Jesse Jackson," but it did, once again, return the show to one of its strong motifs, the distrust and attempted re-situating of a semiotic signifier.