Saturday, May 25, 2024

South Park: The End of Obesity + Unfrosted [Media Notes 122]

I’ve just watched South Park: The End of Obesity, more or less on general principle and out of curiosity. I’ve known about South Park more or less since it showed up in the late 1990s, but have only watched an episode or three plus bits and pieces. So I figured this would be a time to get acquainted, AND, it’s about those (semiglutide-based) weight loss drugs that have been making such a fuss lately. But I didn’t expect to see so much visual material that overlapped with Unfrosted. They are, after all, very different beasts.

Both are comedies, but Unfrosted is live-action and an hour-and-a-half long with Obesity is animated and only an hour. Obesity flat-out satire, and pretty gross at times, while Unfrosted doesn’t quite know what it wants to be aside from funny, along with being cheery and friendly. What do they have in common? Breakfast. And big business. In one case it’s the cereal business, in the other, it’s health insurance.

Eric Cartman, one of the munchkins at the center of the South Park universe, is overweight, but can’t get a prescription for Ozempic because his family’s insurance won’t cover it for weight loss purposes. His friends decide to help him. First they try to navigate the American health care system, to no avail (and accompanied by a sprightly song). So they decided to go into business manufacturing the drug themselves. Meanwhile a women’s group is scoring black-market drugs for themselves, and are joined by one man, Randy, a prominent recurring character in this world. Before you know it these two enterprises collide in comic mayhem.

And that mayhem involves a gang of very angry cereal mascots, including Tony the Tiger, the Trix rabbit but, more prominently, Cap’n Crunch, and Sonny the Cuckoo Bird (Cocoa Puffs). What's their motivation? Obesity drugs are cutting into the cereal market, just like Pop-Tarts! That’s one (unexpected) conjunction between these two movies. They go to war on behalf of Big Cereal and Big Sugar. Another conjunction. Meanwhile we have Cartman’s affection for something called breakfast bombs, which seems to involve a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken that also includes cereal and milk. He resorts to these in panic when he can’t get more of the black-market drug his friends have made for him (the lab was destroyed and the shipment hijacked). And then there’s the super bomb called the Oppenheimer, which involves Twinkies and gravy. There’s one beyond that, the Stormy Daniels.

There you have it, breakfast, cereal mascots, big business, and violence, the American way.

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