South Park Season 25 just dropped a big bomb on its own lore. This is the reason for the decision to reveal that Token’s real name is Black Tolkien.
Warning: Spoilers for South Park season 25, episode 2.
South Park season 25 has dropped a serious reveal – Token Black, a long-standing character in the series, has been referred to as Tolkien Black the entire time. South Park season 25 episode 2, “The Big Fix”† changes South Park lore dating back more than 20 years while also berating its own past mistakes. The animated series has never strayed from political commentary in the past, and South Park Season 25 already proves it’s no different.
When Randy Marsh Realizes Their Family Has “no black friends he decides to invite Stan’s friend Token and his family to dinner in an effort to diversify his marijuana business. At dinner it is revealed that Token’s name is really Tolkien, na Under the spell of the Ring author J.R.R. Tolkien. While Randy tries to tie dad Steve Black to his marijuana business, Stan struggles to deal with the possibility of being racist when he discovers he’s the only one among the South Park crew – even Cartman – who thought their friend’s name was Token.
Since it was unveiled in South Park season 2, the name of Token Black served to play on the trope of the “token Blackcharacter – a character typically introduced as a form of performative diversity – as he was the only black kid in the town of South Park. After more than 20 years, South Park season 25 suddenly the joke returns to itself because he believed his name was actually Token. “The Big Fix” even breaks the fourth wall to drive the joke home, as Stan’s pediatrician looks into the camera and demands to know if “someone else” had “really thought some black people had a kid and named him Token.“Acknowledging this shift in debt South Parks mistakes of the past in an intriguing but funny way, while recognizing that the series knows that the choice was problematic and touching South Park in the present.
When a show is on the air so long South Park There will no doubt be parts of the show that don’t translate well as the show ages, especially when those choices were questionable from the start. Rather than double down on past decisions, the episode only pokes fun at itself in a way South Park can while satirizing the phenomenon of performative alliance. Stan’s efforts to “to help“Tolkien ends up being more concerned with clearing his own guilt than anything else, eventually cutting Tolkien out of the conversation altogether. Randy is just promoting his new business partner, trying to turn Steve Black into the “draw black manby Tegridy Farms. As Stan and Tolkien finally come to an agreement at the end of the episode, Randy and Steve prepare for what appears to be all-out war.
With the episode of season 25, South Park repeats this past controversy and its humor in a meta way. The chastisement delivered to the audience through the Doctor’s fourth wall is really aimed at the show’s creators, who have clearly named the character Token Black in South Park season 2. While retconning can’t undo some of the questionable decisions and controversies of the series’ past, South Park has at least proved that it does not point above its own faults.
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South Park releases new episodes every Wednesday on Comedy Central.
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