A hilarious and brutally truthful send-up of the state of sponsored content in our midst.
“For years, mankind has tried to rid the world of ads. For our ancestors, ads couldn’t be avoided, but everyone knew what was an ad and what wasn’t. After many years, mankind invented cable: a way to pay for television so there would be no ads. But somehow the ads still found a way. And so mankind invented Tivo: a way to skip past commercials. Finally, it appeared to be the end of ads, and everywhere, people rejoiced. The ads were stopped, or so it seemed. With the rise of the internet, suddenly the ads had an entirely new way to attack us: pop-ups. The top scientific minds were brought together to find a way to stop the ads once and for all. They invented the ad blocker. Suddenly there were no ads on phones, on computers, and everywhere, people rejoiced.”
Are these the words of a disgruntled industry insider, finally fed up with the non-stop chaos? Or maybe a political hopeful, trying to rally the crowd and take us back to a simpler time?
Nope. It’s Jimmy, editor of the school newspaper on South Park, and he’s struggling to warn his fellow citizens that ads have taken on a far more sinister and deadly form.
“But the ads adapted,” Jimmy pontificates. “They became smarter. They disguised themselves as news. All around the world, people read news stories, completely unaware they were reading ads. And now, the ads have taken the next step in their evolution. They have taken human form. Ads are among us, they could be your friend, your gardener. The ads are trying to wipe us out. The question is … how?”
Yes, it’s satire. And like all good satire, it’s based so closely on the truth that the lines are painfully, and hilariously, blurred.
“Trey Parker and Matt Stone hysterically satirized ad blocking and sponsored content during the Nov. 18 episode of South Park, but it turns out the show creators still had plenty more to get off their chest about the advertising industry,” writes Jason Lynch in Ad Week. The latest episode to skewer the advertising industry is “Truth and Advertising,” in which an ad actually comes to life in human form.
“While ‘Truth and Advertising’ wasn’t quite as inspired as the previous episode, ‘Sponsored Content,’ it successfully built up anticipation for next Wednesday’s season finale, where Parker and Stone will likely continue to hold the advertising industry’s feet to the fire,” Lynch notes.
It’s crude but worth watching.