South Park is now back for its latest season on Comedy Central, and the always-controversial animated series wasted no time getting into its shock-and-awe brand of social commentary. With the season 23 premiere, "Mexican Joker", South Park pulls two of the biggest discussions in both politics and pop-culture and mashes them together in a parable that takes aim at both current immigration policy, and the larger culture of fear surrounding it. If nothing else, the episode serves as yet another good bit of free promotion for DC's upcoming Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, which has been its own source of controversy, lately.
Warning: SPOILERS for South Park season 23 premiere follow!
The premise of "Mexican Joker" is that Eric Cartman discovers that the immigration policies of the current political administration totally favor his own xenophobic and intolerant views. After seeing ICE raid and separate a migrant family on mere suspicions, Cartman gets the bright idea to do the same to his frienemy Kyle, resulting in Kyle's family being forcibly separated by ICE, and Kyle himself being taken to a child detention center.
The ICE agents process Kyle as just another faceless illegal immigrant pest - until they finally perk up their ears and realize they are dealing with an American child, and attempt to smooth over the situation. The head of the detention center, Jeff, offers to spring Kyle loose, but Kyle is concerned with the larger situation these immigration policies are brewing. As Kyle informs Jeff, this type of trauma being done to young immigrant children will provoke an entire generation of them to grow up resenting US Policy and government officials. Kyle can't get his point across to Jeff and the ICE officials, so he uses the most timely social metaphor possible: superhero lore:
"Okay, let me try to put this in terms you people will understand," Kyle says to Jeff. "You know superhero movies, right?... Okay: you remember how they always create the villain? Some random person who - when they were a child - got taken from their parents and locked away, and the kid was just left to sit and plan revenge? What you're doing here is creating a Mexican Joker! And what's a Mexican Joker gonna do? He's gonna grow up having memories of being wronged by you, and he will grow and wait and finally fight back with a passion unlike anything you've ever seen."
That analogy eventually (and hilariously) sends Jeff and the ICE agents into a panic, as they try - in absurd ways - to calm any potential backlash from the migrant children, and prevent the "Mexican Joker" doomsday future.
As stated, the episode is a humorous skewering of both immigration policy under the Trump administration, and the public (specious) "fears" that the Joker movie will inspire a violent loner to commit another act of mass violence.
You can watch South Park's season 23 premiere "Mexican Joker" On Demand and stream it on Hulu.