WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – A few things to note about Comedy Central’s “South Park” before dissecting the show’s Season 18 premiere, which focused on the Washington Redskins team name and aired Wednesday night.
First, the show is satirical, and while it’s gained high attention in recent years for its mockery of sensitive social issues, that mockery tends to play no favoritism toward any one perspective from which one could opine on said issue. Basically, the show mocks anything and everything about an issue in which it can find potential humor.
That said, any headlines derived from a South Park episode the following morning may be subject to one’s personal political and/or ideological beliefs.
Last night’s “Go Fund Yourself” episode was as much about making fun of Dan Snyder and his defense of the Redskins team name, as it was about making fun of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Apple’s iPhone 6 rollout, internet startups and the perpetuation of political issues through sports.
The episode begins with South Park’s main characters – Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan – dropping out of school to begin their own startup company, but struggling to come up with an original name.
With the latter three huddled behind Stan’s computer, Stan’s father, Randy, enters the room to inquire about their new project, wondering why they’re not in school.
“Boys, there’s more to starting a company than having a catchy name,” Randy says.
“No, there isn’t,” Stan says, as a breathless Cartman comes running into the room with a name idea.
“It’s the greatest startup company name ever!” Cartman proclaims.
“What? Tell us,” his peers say.
“Washington Redskins,” Cartman says.
Cartman goes on to explain how they’d legally be able to call their company “Washington Redskins,” explaining how “some dumb court thingy happened” ridding the professional football team of is various trademark protections. This allows them to use the team’s name and log, he says, which should net them profit solely because of “brand awareness.”
This scene in and of itself can be viewed in many ways, one being that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s summer ruling against the Redskins and their trademarks is “dumb.” Another potential takeaway, was much of America’s lack of understanding of the legal ramifications of that ruling. For clarity, the Redskins, despite early public reaction after the ruling, still have federal trademark protection, pending appeal.
A few scenes later, after veiled shots at Apple, there were undoubtedly shots at Dan Snyder’s staunch defense of his team’s name.
Cartoon Snyder, Jay Gruden and
RGIII Kirk Cousins appear in the boys’ new-look office, adorned with Redskins imagery plastered around the room, including a Redskins logo’d tapestry behind Cartman’s desk.
“Young man, we ask that you please stop using the name ‘Washington Redskins’ for your organization,” Snyder says.
“Stop?” Cartman asks. “But why?”
“Because we are the Washington Redskins, and we are a football team,” Snyder says. “You have no right to use our name to get attention.”
“Uh, the trademark got pulled, so I’m totally free to use the name, actually,” Cartman says.
“Look, don’t you see that when you call your organization the ‘Washington Redskins,’ it’s offensive to us?” Snyder reasons.
“How is it offensive?” Cartman asks.
“How is it offensive?? Jesus!” an outraged Gruden grumbles.
“We are a proud team, Mr. Cartman,” Snyder says. “We have no wish to be associated with people who actively do nothing.”
“Makes us feel like a joke!” Gruden shouts.
“Guys guys. We have total respect for you,” Cartman insists. “When we named our company ‘Washington Redskins,’ it was out of deep appreciation for your team, and your people.”
“I know I can’t legally make you stop using our name, but won’t you just do it out of decency?” Snyder asks.
“Ummm, no, because I don’t want to, and, we can’t just change the name of our company because it’s like super hard,” Cartman denies. “But hey, from one Redskins to another, go **** yourself.”
The rest of the episode, which you watch below, theorized that Roger Goodell is a robot whose actions are strictly at the bidding of the 32 NFL team owners — and actually piped in some of Goodell’s real responses from his highly-criticized press conference last week — had Snyder break into “Kick Starter’s” building, while instructing his Redskins players to kill all its employees so he could compromise the crowdfunding company’s database and remove the South Park boys’ website – thus preventing them from profiting off his team’s name – and eventually, his players quitting on their team owner.
“It’s over,” one player says in the Redskins locker room. “Our name has been reduced to a stereotype and a joke.”
Snyder pleads them to reconsider, and to get back out there and fight.
“Yea, but, I just feel stupid wearing this now,” says another player of the team’s uniform.
The episode concludes with Snyder taking the field, alone, to finish a game against the Cowboys, who repeatedly line up until he snaps the ball to himself, only for them to pile on top of him, all at once.
Maybe some symbolism there.