A few days ago, we found out that “South Park” was going to take on “white nationalists” in the first episode of the Trump era. Knowing how the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone work, the prospect was rather intriguing, to say the least. However, the episode seemed to be wide of the mark insofar as hitting the target.

What ‘South Park’ got wrong about ‘white nationalists’

As anyone who watched incidents such as the riots in Charlottesville could observer, the so-called “white nationalists,” which is a catch-all phrase including Neo Nazis, Klansmen, and similar malcontents, tended to be young, unsocialized males.

They shaved their heads and wore tattoos, often running around without shirts on. The “white nationalists” of real life tend to be violent, brawling with the police or with their just as deranged counterparts in the Antifa and Black Lives Matter movement.

The characters on “South Park” who were running around with tiki torches and Confederate flags were stereotypical rednecks, hairy, not very well dressed, primarily working class. While the “white nationalists” on the show were energetic and loud, they were not very violent at all. They were more pathetic than anyone else.

What they were mad at

The “white nationalists” on the episode were mad that digital assistant devices such as Alexa were taking their jobs.

The assertion was very remarkable because surfing the internet for information and playing music on request seems not to be a blue collar sort of thing to do. Indeed, when at one point the malcontents were given jobs as human assistants they tended to be very bad at it. The redneck trouble makers thus seem to be in trouble since, as someone said on the episode, coal mining and truck driving are not jobs of the future.

Just as an aside, personal assistants such as Alexa were the source of endless amusement on the part of the kids. The devices will repeat just about every smutty phrase that they are asked to. The South Park kids are, if anything, very imaginative in the art of obscenity.

Finally, the really cogent bit of social commentary occurred when Cartman, the self-absorbed fat kid, threw his girlfriend over for one of the digital assistants.

Cybernetic beings, whether they come in the form of digital assistants or sex robots, have a distinct advantage over human beings. They have no identity, emotions, or needs that their owners do not grant them. Relations between humans and robots (at least until the latter become self-aware) are straight forward and uncomplicated. The availability of such devices have unforeseen societal consequences that we have yet to think about, not to mention deal with.