Friday, 30 March 2012

South Park revisits memes with "Faith Hilling" episode

This recent episode of South Park centres around internet memes.

The episode begins with the boys attempting to get a photo of Cartman "Faith Hilling" (making pretend boobies with your shirt) at a Republican debate.

It continues with planking, owling, Bradying, Tebowing, and "Taylor Swifting" - a curiously-named meme which involves pulling your pants down and rubbing your butt along the ground like a dog. There's also a meme involving shoving a cat's head through a slice of bread and a meme called "Oh Long Johnsoning". There's also a public service announcement about memes (featured above) - which features the catchy tagline:

Use the approved poses if you wanna be a memer. Peace sign, bunny ears, fake wiener.
The idea of "fake wiener" is not at all new - but the specific photographic pose illustrated seems to be largely South Park's invention.

The blurb for the episode reads:

Mankind's evolution begins to accelerate at a rapid and disturbing pace. Concurrently, another species on the planet is exhibiting the same drastic development. Eventually the two species will battle to the death and Faith Hilling may be humanity's only hope.
The whole episode is pretty good. It's also a reasonable advert for memes and memetics. It features a consultation with a meme expert who goes into the history and theory of memes a little (8:30). Here's the specific bit:

The expert has a book apparently called "Memes through the Ages" - or something like that. It traces meme history back through "Fonzying", "mustaching", "Poodle Fisting", "Ass Wedging" and "Donkey Dicking". The book has some funny stuff in it - for example, it says:

In his book "The historical significance of Fonzy", Richard Dawkins states, "Fonzying showed a giant leap forwards in human intelligence because it was a very simple meme..."
I don't want to supply too many spoliers, but just to say it is a suprisingly worthwhile 20 minutes - assuming that you are interested in memes.

News coverage (contains spoilers): New South Park Episode: Faith Hilling, Swifting, Breading and Other Memes).

"Faith Hilling" wikipedia page (contains spoilers).

Here's a "Taylor Swifting video". It was uploaded before the episode aired - and so is probably part of an online publicity campaign. Of course after the episode many uploaded their own Taylor Swifting attempts.

The episode seems to have been somewhat successful in launching both "Faith Hilling" and "Taylor Swifting" memes on the unsuspecting world. "Taylor Swifting" seems to be a reference to Taylor Swift's existing undesirable meme fame at the VMA award ceremony - which we covered here. "Faith Hilling" is presumably a reference to Faith Hill's Stepford Wives breast growth scene.

After this episode, being "Taylor Swifted" now seems to be a pretty reasonable term for unsolicited fame that involves embarassment, grossness or other high negativity.

The rather obvious terms "memer" and "memeing" seem to have had a rather low frequency before the broadcast of this episode. I expect they will become more widely used in the future.

The last South Park "internet meme" episode was Canada on Strike.


  1. Hi, Tim

    You might like this link. It´s Sheldon´s "Big bang theory" talking about meme theory.

    Juan Alfonso del Busto

  2. This blog covered that a year ago - here:

  3. Hi there! How do you feel about advertisements of any kinds put on blogging websites?

  4. I don't mind advertisements too much - when they are on other people's blogs.