South Park always manages to get to the heart of modern culture with the most ridiculous of situations. In the October 11 episode, "Franchise Prequel," (the episode serves as the back story to the upcoming South Park video game) the matter at hand is the way falsehoods spread like wildfire on Facebook - with a not-so-subtle jab at Russian propaganda and fake news thrown in.
This episode centers around superheroes and villains. The children of South Park have banded together to become the superheroes so they can start their own movie franchise "Coon and Friends," but another shadowy group is working to take them down. The main weapon in their arsenal? Facebook. They plant fake stories online about the group of kid superheroes - for instance, that they burn the American flag, among other more vulgar actions that only South Park could come up with - they object, "We're Coon and Friends, not Harvey Weinstein!"
But, a lie, as it is said, can get halfway around the world while the truth is putting its pants on, and all of South Park hears and believes these horrible stories on Facebook about Coon and Friends. They invite Mark Zuckerberg to town to talk to him about it. The problem is - he won't leave and the townspeople have to deal with the fact that they are the ones who let him in in the first place.
Who is behind the fake news Facebook attacks on Coon and Friends? Fellow student Butters AKA Professor Chaos and his army of tinfoil hatted trolls, to whom he gives the directive "just start writing horrible things about people and presenting it as reality on Facebook." When Butters' dad, Stephen, finds out his son is behind the lies, he knows exactly who to blame - Putin!
Stephen: You think you're just so smart, don't you?
Butters: No, Sir! No, Sir, I just
Stephen: Make me look like a fool, will you!? We'll just see about this. Go on!
Butters: Well, I was just- Well I just said how I just used Facebook like Russia did and really didn't break any rules-
Stephen: Good job teaching our children that's all that matters! Just because there's a way to cause chaos in a town doesn't mean you go and do it, does it? If Mark Zuckerberg points a loaded cannon at someone's face, are you innocent for just lighting the fuse!? Answer me!
Putin (in Russian): No, Sir.
Stephen: No, you don't go around making up things about people, either, unless it's about Mark Zuckerberg 'cause he deserves it. I hope you're both very satisfied with the damage you've cause, because you're both grounded!
Butters' father had clearly heard (and believed) the stories that Russia had "hacked" our election to create chaos, stories which were widely spread by Hillary Clinton and her media enablers. Butters didn't have the same kind of reach in South Park that Putin does, but it was certainly enough to mess things up for the superheroes and the town. While we're not worried about Coon and Friends being misrepresented, misinformation abounds and is all too easily believed.
That "share" button on Facebook gets clicked long before anyone thinks to check the facts. South Park, once again, has shone a light on the ridiculousness of our everyday lives with the most bizarre of stories.