Sunday, March 25, 2012

South Park: The Life Cycle of Gold Jewelry

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

While I have wondered before what sort of money those gold places would give for unwanted jewelry, I hadn't noticed how prevalent those storefronts are. Three days after the episode aired, my husband and I were all over town on errands and he pointed out quite a few of them - and there are two in/adjacent to our local mall. I thought that the highlight of the episode was the exposed life cycle of jewelry, but I'm always a fan of a good Cartman scheme as well. So, although it's not going to go down as a South Park great, it's amusing enough to watch more than once, so let's call it a win.

South Park "Cash for Gold" (S1602): Stan and his family visit Randy's dad in the retirement home. Stan's grandfather (who can never remember Stan's name) gives him a bolo tie, which is allegedly worth $6,000. [...say whaaa???] Stan's parents have him wear it to school the next day for picture day, so, of course, the other kids notice. [why weren't they wearing anything special?] The others suggest that he take it to a cash-for-gold place, so they shop around and are offered $15, $9, and a seven-layer burrito at various places. [I thought it was pretty funny that they stopped by the Taco Bell for an estimate.] While trying to figure out what's going on, they see a jewelry channel offering faux sapphire earrings for over $300, then an over-priced bracelet that Stan's grandfather plans to order. [so part of this episode's gimmick is that the elderly are always buying things off television?] Stan calls into the show and tells the host to kill himself over what he's doing. [you know, because "go kill yourself" is no longer a big insult.]

Stan, Kyle, and Kenny then try to get to the bottom of the scheme by going to where the gold is melted down and are told that, "he who smelt it, dealt it," and, "he who denied it, supplied it." [nice riff on a classic joke, Parker & Stone!] They then go to talk to the sign-spinners, who say that the jewelry comes from India, and whoever made the rhyme should do the time. [not as funny.] While they're off on this
photo courtesy: Comedy Central
mission, Cartman has decided to start his own cash-for-gold business, with Butters as a sign-spinner. [haha!] He then sells junky jewelry on television for $75.95. He needs more to work with, however, so he goes to a discount diamonds and gemstones place, only to suspect that he's getting screwed, not screwing the store. [I question whether Cartman would have realized this, but let's keep going...] 

Butters and Cartman go to India to a sweatshop to cut out the middlemen, only to find Kenny, Kyle, and Stan already there, yelling at the sweatshop for taking advantage of old people. We 're then shown the entire cycle: kids making jewelry, it being shipped to the US jewelery channel, the channel selling it to old people, the old people receiving it and passing it on to loved ones, the loved ones selling it for cash, the cash places selling it to the smelting companies, and the smelting companies selling the gold back to the Indian sweatshops.[it made me laugh pretty hard anyway.]

Stan reveals this cycle to his grandfather, then gives him a framed photo of his favorite dog. [while it didn't make total sense, it was a sweet moment.] The episode ends with more people calling into the jewelry show and telling the host to kill himself... and he eventually does. [...yeah...]
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