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South Park Tackles Washington Redskins

Tom recaps the South Park take on the Washington Redskins.

Patrick Smith

The season premiere of South Park had the Washington Redskins in its cross-hairs Wednesday night.  Here's a recap.

The first act began with Cartman and the boys trying to name their new start-up business.  They struggle to do so when they realize that nearly every name is already registered.  Cartman hears about the Washington Redskins' USPTO case, and tells the gang they should use "The Washington Redskins" due to name recognition.  The other boys express skepticism on the legality of this idea, but they eventually go along with Cartman's plan.

(Nerd lawyer tangent: As we should all know by now, in real life, even losing federal trademark protection doesn't mean that the Redskins couldn't sue a company that uses the name.  But I digress.)

The scene where Dan Snyder shows up in Cartman's office takes place shortly thereafter.  Snyder complains about the use of the name, while Cartman retorts that he named his company out of "deep appreciation . . . for your people."  You saw this in the episode preview that aired last weekend.  The scene is punctuated by Cartman telling Snyder, "From one Redskin to another, go f*** yourself!"

Most noteworthy is that South Park, known for its last-minute edits and alterations, changed Robert Griffin III to Kirk Cousins between the promo clip on Sunday and the episode tonight!  Impressive!

Snyder is then seen in a sad montage of his team's name being disparaged that culminates with an "Iron Eyes Cody" tear rolling down his cheek.

Things got a little convoluted after that, as the show tried to incorporate commentary about the Redskins, crowdfunding, ISIS, and, most pointedly, the current controversy surrounding Roger Goodell and the NFL's handling of domestic abuse issues.  Snyder serves as the voice of the public, here, as he tells Goodell that what Goodell is saying (in this case, actual clips from his recent press conference) is unhelpful nonsense and pointless gibberish.

Goodell is then revealed to be a malfunctioning robot who simply obeys the commands of the 32 NFL owners.

Much of the rest of the episode is anti-Kickstarter commentary.  Kickstarter itself is eventually attacked by the Washington Redskins (behaving as a movie Western "Indian raiding party," complete with "Native American" music), led by Snyder himself.  The Redskins football team murders everyone inside and burns the building to the ground.

The final act sees the boys conceding that "Washington Redskins is a sweet name," and having their company take the place of the destroyed Kickstarter.  They openly point out that they will provide nothing at all while telling start-ups "Go Fund Yourself."  They add that these fledgling companies should still give 5% to the boys, since they provide the same service (none) as Kickstarter did.  This is met with wild applause.

We then see a lone Dan Snyder, as the last, proud defender of the "Redskins" name, taking on the Dallas Cowboys by himself after his depressed team gives up and goes home.  Snyder's brutal beating triggers a public outcry against the boys' Redskins company, as people rise up to demand the change of a name that is associated with a once-proud people who were decimated by (the Dallas) Cowboys.

There are also a couple of nice jabs at Jerry Jones in the episode, including a rather graphic reference to his recent alleged sexual misconduct troubles.  I would go as far as to say that JERRUH comes off worse in this episode than Dan Snyder does, albeit in limited screen time.

The episode ends with the boys concluding that they have to abandon their start-up, reluctantly going back to school.

I enjoyed the episode overall, but I think they tried to cram in too many different topics into the show without fully exploring some of them.  It almost seemed like the writers were trying so hard to be timely (especially with the Goodell quotes and the ISIS references) that a lot of the substance got short shrift.

I admit that I was also surprised that Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn't take issue with the USPTO cancelling the Redskins' trademark.  They're fairly libertarian, and they've also dealt with a lot of protests themselves in the past related to "offensive" content on their show.  I thought they would delve into the issue of the government being able to decide what is or is not offensive.  Even if they wanted to touch on such a theme, though, the episode was already overcrowded.

Instead, they opted to substitute the Washington Redskins for actual Native Americans, going so far as to depict them in an ironically stereotypical manner, while the boys' start-up company played the role of the organization that "doesn't give a s*** about public opinion."

It was an interesting episode, but I don't think they covered much new ground on the name-change debate front.

As a final thought, while the show undoubtedly poked a lot of fun at Snyder and the Redskins, I was surprised to see that this week's South Park seemed to direct its most genuine ire at Kickstarter.