Yelp Suing South Park: File Under "When a Story is Too Good To Be True…
...it usually isn't. An excellent hoax follows an excellent episode of an excellent series.
Now in its 19th (count 'em!) year, South Park has been on fire since its season debut a few weeks back. Last week's episode was an inspired satire of crowd-sourced rating system Yelp, along with Whole Foods Markets and phonily inclusive urban redevelopment plans (watch it in full and for free here).
"You're Not Yelping" showed Eric Cartman and others extracting freebies and preferential treatment from restaurateurs and other small-business owners until the would-be critics get their comeuppance. The show also inspired a great hoax itself. Parody site NBC.com.co (note the squirrely URL) is running a story that Yelp is suing South Park for $10 million. It's widely been taken as, well, NBC News
Today Yelp Inc. filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the creators of South Park and Comedy Central. In the lawsuit, Yelp is seeking damages caused by the latest episode of South Park which lampooned the customer review and local business rating website.
Paul Horner, who is a spokesman for Yelp, spoke with NBC News about details of the lawsuit.
"Our company, along with its millions of users, take Yelp very seriously. The South Park episode was in extremely bad taste and not funny whatsoever. To say our critics are out there trying to get free food and using racist slurs on little Mexican children is beyond ridiculous. To compare the users of Yelp to terrorists is not only cruel, but the definition of libel and slander. I believe any reasonable court in America will agree with the lawsuit and rule in our favor."
The account goes on to note that South Park's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone only give the lawsuit "one star," yadda yadda yadda. Read the whole fake story, which is very well done, here.
— Yelp (@Yelp) October 21, 2015
As long as we're talking South Park, read Reason's 2006 interview with Parker and Stone, conducted by Jesse Walker and me at a Reason event in Amsterdam. Snippets:
Reason: When it looked like Comedy Central wasn't going to rerun [an episode involving a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary], people were still able to download it illegally online. Did you see that as a victory for free speech, or did you think, "My God, these people are stealing our intellectual property"?
Stone: We're always in favor of people downloading. Always.
Stone: It's how a lot of people see the show. And it's never hurt us. We've done nothing but been successful with the show. How could you ever get mad about somebody who wants to see your stuff?
Parker: We worked really hard making that show, and the reason you do it is because you want people to see it….
Reason: A few years ago, Matt, you said, "I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals." Who do you hate more these days?
Stone: That's a tough question. Obviously, South Park has a lot of politics in it, but ultimately we want to make a funny show and a good show. We try not to be, "All right, here's the point we want to make." But things like California's smoking ban and Rob Reiner animate both of us. When we did that Rob Reiner episode [2003's "Butt Out"], to us it was just common sense. Rob Reiner was just a great target.
That's when a lot of people started calling us conservative: "How could you possibly rip on Rob Reiner? You must be conservative."
Parker: A big key to us is that we both grew up in Colorado in the '80s, and we wanted to be punk rockers. When you were a teenager in Colorado, the way to be a punk rocker was to rip on Reagan and Bush and what they were doing and talk about how everyone in Colorado's a redneck with a gun and all this stuff. Then we went to the University of Colorado at Boulder, and everyone there agreed with us. And we were like, "Well, that's not cool, everyone agrees with us." And then you get to Los Angeles. The only way you can be a punk in Los Angeles is go to a big party and go, "You can say what you want about George Bush, but you've got to admit, he's pretty smart." People are like, "What the fuck did he just say? Get him out of here!"
Incidentally, this interview was conducted years before South Park Studios put all the show's episodes on the web for free. The whole interview is pretty great.
And watch "3 Reasons All Kids Should Be FORCED to Watch South Park":