South Park: Goobacks

I haven’t seen this episode of South Park in a couple years but I always thought it was pretty funny. I’ve thought for a long time – and I’m sure I’m not the only one – that South Park became quite intelligent after its first few seasons, regardless of its crass content. This episode in particular is quite telling since it reflects a sentiment held by many in America today: undocumented aliens, especially Mexicans, are the source of their troubles and a threat. This response isn’t new but I haven’t experienced this kind of fervor in my lifetime and I find it quite disturbing.

During the 2010 elections Arizona Governor Jan Brewer went around making claims surrounding beheaded bodies of Americans in the desert – claims that turned out to be total fabrications. Here is a video of Jan Brewer (who was reelected by a large amount of Arizonian idiots) ducking the question when reporters asked her about the beheadings:

I can’t believe she wields power over an entire state. That’s the kind of move reserved for criminals denying comment when up for serious charges, not a politician running for state office. No wonder Arizona (aside from the Grand Canyon) is such a shithole.

Moving on…

The point I’m making is that anti-immigration sentiment is at an all time high here in the States but why? Why are people going after people, people who just want to send money back to those at home who are hungry; people who are willing to take the jobs Americans don’t want? It seems quite foolish to attack the people taking these jobs and not the sources supplementing this tension: employers.

South Park demonstrates how ludicrous this sentiment really is by having all the anti-immigration crusaders participate in a giant orgy. Their goal is to send the “Goobacks” away by eradicating sex, therefore eliminating any future reproduction and eradicating the future people from stealing their jobs. It sounds silly and it is but I don’t believe Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s concept of a white trash orgy is what’s so inane; instead it’s the idea that Mexican immigrants are the source of their woes. It’s not them; it’s the employers who’ll hire them and then pay them a horrid wage that are the root of the problem here. If these companies wouldn’t hire them in the first place they wouldn’t come over in such numbers. It’s like the whole debate over Mexican drug cartels at America’s borders: if you eliminated the prohibition on the drugs they’re smuggling over you’d eliminate the black market and the cartels. However, American Puritanism and its disdain for drugs (which I feel isn’t entirely incorrect…except when it comes to marijuana which has been proven to be safer than alcohol and cigarettes) keeps these substances illegal and therefore props up the black market. It’s like an ourobors.

In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath the American migrant workers are treated in a similar fashion to Mexican workers: they’re called names, beaten, and even killed. Steinbeck also states about how these companies and farms operate, which seems just as true today as it was when he wrote the novel:

Now farming became industry, and the owners followed Rome, although they did not know it. They imported slaves, although they did not call them slaves: Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, and Filipinos. They live on rice and beans, the businessmen said. They don’t need much. They wouldn’t know what to do with good wages. Why, look how they live. Why, look what they eat. And if they get funny – deport them.

Isn’t this the same as what’s going on in the Goodback episode of South Park or in America currently? Mexican laborers have taken too many jobs, or there aren’t enough white collar jobs around for Americans and they need a scapegoat – as if most Americans would perform the tasks our neighbors from the south do on a daily basis anyways. I really doubt most Americans, sustained on a diet of fast food, soft drinks, and reality television would go out and pick strawberries or work in our slaughterhouses, especially for pennies on the dollar. In fact, the majority of America’s food industry is manned by undocumented workers. Take a trip to a nearby slaughterhouse and you’ll find most of the employees are here illegally.
The resolution on South Park was to eliminate the Goobacks’ damaged future world by making the contemporary one better. There is a montage of the characters cleaning up litter, installing solar panels on houses, and even using electric cars. Eventually, they realize their actions are “gay” and head back to the orgy (“back to the pile.”). I believe this is a commentary on the jobs undocumented workers get – they involve hard work. Initially, everybody pitches in and works hard but eventually gives up, citing it as “gay.” The irony is they engage in actual homosexuality over hard, “gay” work. The jobs taken by migrants are the ones most American scoff at. However, in a time of economic upheaval, when higher paying jobs are scarce, Americans desire these jobs over homelessness and starvation but after years of ignoring these tasks and relegating them to immigrants they’re actually surprised, and then angered, that these jobs are filled. Is it possible it’s our fault that these jobs were filled by Mexicans and other undocumented people? After all, we’ve deemed these jobs beneath us when times are good and employers jumped at the opportunity to save money.

It’s a complex issue and I doubt I have the skills to fully explore it, especially on this little blog. However, South Park’s position, and what seems like the correct one, isn’t to blame the immigrants for taking these jobs; instead it seems like the fault lies on both us and the employers. Companies employing undocumented workers are not only breaking the law but taking the food out of the mouths of American citizens while we go after a scapegoat instead of addressing the problem at its source. In addition, we’ve discarded these occupations for years, bewildered when somebody else takes them and angry when they’re filled by people who’ll work for a fraction of the cost. I’d strongly urge anybody who feels undocumented aliens are the source of our woes to watch this episode of South Park and think about how their ideology is absurd, just like the notion of a big gay orgy ceasing reproduction.


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