Last year’s season of South Park was a molotov cocktail thrown into the modern culture. The first 7 episodes was a season-long deconstruction of modern life’s liberal overshooting. In the opening episode, South Park Elementary School is overtaken by P.C. Principal, who militantly forces everybody to succumb to his liberal point of view. As the season goes on, it shows how limousine white liberalism ultimately oppresses minorities (the Mexicans in Whole Foods), the poor (Kenny’s family surrounded by the chic SoDoSoPa), and even the kids (while playing ninja, they get mistaken for ISIS terrorists).
If you stopped in episode 7, you’d think the whole season of South Park was just making fun of overreacting liberals who are compassionate when it suits them. This isn’t even an unusual for South Park. All the way back in Season 2, the episode Conjoined Fetus Lady showed the town coming together to celebrate and support the school nurse who has a fetus stuck to her head. In the rush to make a big deal about supporting a woman with a defect, they invoke the Streisand Effect and call attention to the defect, making the nurse feel even more outcast than before. If this message runs against your understanding of the world, even 7 episodes is a lot of ridicule.
In the final three episodes of the last season, South Park flips it all on its head. Parker and Stone embrace political correctness as a positive force in the world, but also criticize it as a force that can be corrupted by outside interests into supporting themselves. P.C. Culture isn’t a con job, but, like any other militant ideology, it can be corrupted. The problem is, if the viewer stopped at episode 7, the pro-progressive anti-commercial message is lost.
Which brings up the problem with The Twist. It seems that an increasing number of movies are dependent on some sort of third act revelation or game change to be as “mind blowing” as possible. From tiny dramas like The Automatic Hate to large scale science fiction epics, the twist has become a common storytelling device that can completely change the meaning of what came before. But, what if people tune out before the twist? If people tune out before the twist, is the structure worth it?
Have you ever walked out or quit a movie only to find out there was something at the end that would have changed your opinion of it? Have you ever found yourself distracted by the middle of a movie and missed the twist? Have any twists made an insufferable movie genius?