The New ‘South Park’ Special ‘Not Suitable for Children’ Exposes How Everything About Social Media Intentionally Manipulates Minors

Logan Paul, PRIME and social media itself are the unambiguous targets of the ‘South Park’ sneak-release
The New ‘South Park’ Special ‘Not Suitable for Children’ Exposes How Everything About Social Media Intentionally Manipulates Minors

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are possibly the only people on the internet who can put out a disclaimer saying their content is unfit for underaged consumption that doesn’t read like there’s a silent wink at the end of it.

The newest South Park special, Not Suitable for Children, begins with a different warning card from the iconic one the series has used for the past quarter century. Instead of insisting that all the characters on the show are entirely fictional and that all celebrity voices are impersonated (...poorly), the Paramount+ special, released today with minimal promotion, warns us of “graphic sexual content” in the opening frame, cautioning, “Due to its extreme erotic nature this program is NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.” In case anyone takes such alerts lightly, let me lightly spoil something for you – seven minutes into Not Suitable for ChildrenRandy Marsh takes out his entire dick and balls and doesn’t put them away for the following half hour.

That being said, Not Suitable for Children still isn’t close to the worst content on the internet that underaged users can easily access – nor are Parker and Stone the most malignant media entities to attract the attention of minors. The newest South Park special points out that every part of the social media industry, from the content creators to the brands they advertise to the platforms themselves, is designed to surreptitiously target young audiences and exploit them for profit. And, to put their money where their mouths are, Parker and Stone put out virtually zero promotional material about the special on social media until today.

In a rare Clyde-focused feature, Not Suitable for Children revolves around South Park Elementary's obsession with the fictional sports drink CRED, a clear stand-in for real-life social media’s favorite product partnership PRIME. Clyde’s father and step-mother forbid him from drinking the chemical slurry that’s become the beverage of choice for children across the country, making his acceptance in a Cartman-started “affinity group” fraught with tension. Cartman, Clyde, Butters and Tweek travel 200 miles to New Mexico for a rare, limited edition Prime release at the urging of Clyde’s favorite influencer, Logan LeDouche, a clear allusion to real-life PRIME-hawker Logan Paul. When the hordes of children swarming to buy the status symbol turn violent, it sends the four down a rabbit hole to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, Randy, inspired by a scandal at South Park Elementary in which a teacher starts a profitable OnlyFans page to subsidize her dismal public school salary, opens his own OnlyFans account to show off his hairy, floppy dick and balls in increasingly hilarious situations, such as a cooking instruction video for pad thai using fresh nuts. In order to show Randy how ridiculous his influencer aspirations are, Sharon starts her own OnlyFans page and the two enter an escalating battle for subscribers that drives Randy down a dark path towards marketing to minors.

Eventually, both Randy and the CRED crew realize that, despite the insistence of the brands that advertise on social media, the content creators who market their products, and, most importantly, the social media platforms themselves, the most profitable market on the internet is children. They realize that the social media industry’s claims that the majority of their users are older than 21 are based on knowingly bad data, and the companies responsible for the explosion of kid-targeted sponsorships are actively impeding regulatory agency’s attempts to curtail the economic exploitation of children.

Not Suitable for Children is an unambiguous indictment of the entire social media machine’s relationship with underaged users, and, down to the special’s marketing (or lack thereof), Parker and Stone make their strong feelings on the issue of widespread manipulation of children through the content they consume crystal clear. Sadly, within the storyline of the special, all the many salient points made about social media’s willful obfuscation of the realities of children’s experience online amount to little more than a breakthrough in the relationship between Clyde and his newly introduced step-mother as it’s revealed that she is responsible for the CRED craze in a sloppy conclusion that fails to end the special with thematic satisfaction.

But, hey, at least this special didn’t add any new catchphrases to the lexicons of people who don’t realize that South Park is making fun of them.

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