South Park parodies NBA star LeBron James amid the ongoing NBA-China controversy. Created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the adult animated sitcom revolves around four grade-schoolboys - Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick. Currently airing season 23, the show sits between The Simpsons and Family Guy as the longest-running animated series ever.
Set in a fictional town in Colorado, South Park debuted in 1997. Riddled with satire, dark humor, and profanity, South Park continues to be one of Comedy Central’s highest-rated series. Helmed by Parker and Stone (who also lend their voice talents), South Park’s outrageous plots have demonstrated no religious group, politician or celebrity is off-limits to its trademark satire. Recently, South Park was banned in China following the release of an episode that featured several forbidden topics in the Chinese culture. Due to the episode’s critique of the relationship between Hollywood and the Chinese government, South Park has been obliterated from online platforms in China. South Park’s contentious episode was aptly timed in light of the controversy surrounding the NBA, as Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Following statements from China that they would condemn Rockets games and pull financial support, the NBA has since apologized, causing celebrities (such as James) to respond. According to THR, South Park mocks NBA superstar James and his comments in an episode titled, “Let Them Eat Goo”. The episode follows the students at South Park Elementary School, who complain after the cafeteria switches to healthy lunches. Cartman becomes infuriated and goes off on a rant to yell, “Yes, we do have the freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you are not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself!” This quote mirrors the one James delivered days ago when inquired about Morey.
Cartman touches on the NBA star for the duration of the episode, including a “taco Tuesday” bit, which James has displayed on his social media pages. Not limited to one relevant topic, South Park’s newest episode also took a swipe at the plant-based meat frenzy, specifically targeting Burger King and its Impossible Whopper. James continues to make waves in the entertainment industry as the NBA star is slated to lead Space Jam 2, which is currently in production and expected to release in 2021.
South Park and its creative team show no signs of slowing down. Last week, the series celebrated its 300th episode and continues to garner solid ratings. Despite consistently being in hot water for the content they write, Stone and Parker continue to utilize controversy instead of shying away from it. Legendary for tackling hot button topics, the outlandish citizens of South Park don’t appear to be tapering down their creative critiques anytime soon.