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Badger Pod Nerd Cast 12: Parks and Pandering

Rachel Edwards

Rachel Edwards

Rachel is a former host of Honey Badger Radio, a recurring member of the Tales from the Infrared crew. She wanders around the web researching feminist insanity, poking people with a large stick, and keeping everyone in the silly place. When she isn't doing any of those things she spends her time doing even more blogging, grooming her rather large fluffy cat, nerding out with her favorite people, and burying herself in various fandoms. Pinkie Pie is best Pony! (You spelled "Fluttershy" wrong. -- Zen)
Rachel Edwards

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Tonight on Badger Pod Nerd Cast, the Badgers discuss Legend of Korra, South Park, and Parks and Recreation.

Legend of Korra

I really expected to hate Legend of Korra. So many had told me terrible things about it and that it was something I shouldn’t watch. After binge-watching Books One through Three, I can tell you that I feel the opposite.

Legend of Korra takes place several generations after the story of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the studio took a massive risk in trying to make something entirely new. In contrast to the previous Avatar, Korra begins as a spoiled, restless bully who always throws her weight around. She doesn’t know the meaning of moderation and she lacks discipline.

However, as the story progresses, Korra begins to mend her ways after being made to suffer for these flaws. Even in her flaws she is oddly charming, and unlike many strong female characters in the media she learns from her mistakes.

The show has taken many other risks, mainly with the enemies being representations of ideals that cause the world to crash and burn. Things like social justice, blind faith, and chaos.

The sad thing in this is that despite the complex themes of balance and redemption, the show has been a financial flop, making this show likely the last in the Avatar franchise. Which is more than sad, because this show is one of the few I’ve seen that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience.

It’s a strong story that relies heavily on character development to drive it forward. It’s multifaceted and has something that is sorely lacking in the media: subtlety. I await Book Four’s episodes with great anticipation, hungry for more.

 

Is South Park feminist?

Apologies for the clickbaity title. The instinctive answer seems to be “Of course it isn’t. GTFO.” South Park rarely weighs in on gender issues, and why would they? They have bigger fish to fry, and they have all the other fish too. But how big can this fish get before Matt and Trey realize it’s the only major religion they haven’t lampooned yet?

No doubt everyone’s talking about last week’s episode, “The Cissy.” In an increasingly hit-and-miss barrel of South Park episodes, this was a breath of fresh air. If you’re trying to get the hyper-progressive masses to understand what they’re doing wrong, one of the only effective ways to do it is to have Cartman do it. When Cartman sees a crack in the system, he exploits it. In this case, when he realizes he can wear a bow on his head and call himself female—boom—he has his own bathroom. Because unfortunately, boys and girls, that is exactly how transgenderism works for some people. And once Cartman’s taken that crack in the system and torn it open for all to see, we realize it’s not a crack at all. It is why the system exists: so that people like Cartman can live out their totalitarian fantasy worlds, one short con at a time.

As far as I can tell, Cartman is the archetypal social justice warrior. He has no left or right wing, he is simply an opportunistic, emotional bully. So South Park is, at the very least, not in Camp SJW. That’s no surprise. But where do they stand on mainstream feminism? With the growing notoriety of the MRM, I’m increasingly aware that it’s exactly the kind of thing South Park would tear to shreds. So every time something to do with feminism arises, the hair on the back of my neck stands to attention and I think, “This is it, Trey. Don’t fuck this up.”

Episode 1705 was their take on the Miley Cyrus situation last year, and our fears were appeased by a less than rosy depiction of Sinead O’Connor, and that whole internal and eternal debate about how the same action can be empowerment over the patriarchy and simultaneously victimhood under the patriarchy. But we never quite got to the possibility of unbridled narcissism in the victimarchy, and it was one of those “meh” episodes anyway. Reminded me of the Queef Sisters. That was a good episode, but the moral at the end screwed it all up. “You couldn’t let us have this ONE THING.” Yes, we won’t even let you queef. We’re monsters. But of course, the moral of the story is we WILL let you queef. We want you to. We think it’s hilarious. That’s probably why you don’t do it.

Anyway. Flash-forward to last year’s season finale, episode 1710, “The Hobbit.” The darkest peg on the landscape so far. It was the episode about Kim Kardashian and beauty-photoshopping; how ridiculous it would be if boys cared more about pictures of real-life people than they do about those real people; how shamelessly obsessed the media has become with artificially neotenous pictures of women. And who steps up to save the day? A feminist. One Wendy Testaburger, declaring to be “the biggest feminist in this school.” That line was neglected to be sarcastically manhandled by the nearest character, which was worrying. Mr. Mackay went on to say, and I quote: “There is a very fine line, Wendy, between being a feminist and being a hater. Mmkay?” Now, you may have put that line in Mr. Mackay’s mouth, Trey. But I hope that wasn’t you talking. Because that’s a very debatable motion, Trey.

 

Parks and Recreation

On the surface, the show Parks and Recreation appears feminist-friendly and even gynocentric, but lurking beneath is something far different. I was surprised to find that the show had the balls to poke fun at the hypocrisy of feminism.

The main protagonist, Leslie Knope, is a stereotype of feminists in positions of power. Throughout the show she has a wall of pictures of powerful women in government, displaying the fact that the very act of being a woman is a religion for her.

Her belief that the world is dominated by men gets her into trouble multiple times, when it is obvious that this is not the reality of the situation. Her polar opposite, Ron Swanson, actively avoids power and domination.

A lot of the humor comes from Leslie being oblivious to the ways in which she’s being selfish, inconsiderate, and harmful to others. These jabs at Leslie being a hypocrite vary from subtle to obvious. There is a moment in season 3 where even children manage to point out the ridiculous nature of her ideals.

However, the thing that is truly wonderful about the show is not Leslie, but that all the characters evolve and change for the better. Even in the midst of mindless pandering to women, there are moments that reflect on the reality of the relationships between men and women. It goes beyond the narrative that women are always good and shows that women can also be cruel and manipulative.

Despite its minor flaws, Parks and Recreation is a show worth watching. Don’t watch it because it’s addictive or fun. Watch it because Ron Swanson is one of the best characters ever. Also bacon … lots and lots of bacon.

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