I used to work with a guy who called me "Colorado." No, he called me "Calluhraduh." I took this as a deep and abiding compliment, as a transplanted ex-pat from the Centennial State. I continue to take pride in those things that work out well for the folks back home, and feel a twinge when they don't. That's why it felt so good to have South Park take on "school shooting fatigue."
If you are unfamiliar with the longest running scripted show on television, it tells the story of a group of ten year old boys in the tiny town of South Park, Colorado. It has been alternately praised and reviled by parents, critics and pundits of all stripes. It has caused even your erstwhile narrator to blush at times. The young men who created this animated treat graduated just a few years behind me from our Alma Mater, The University of Calluhraduh.
These were guys who were interviewed as part of Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine, were not far removed from their own suburban Denver high school experience when Dylan and Eric went on their rampage, sparking one of the initial outrages against school shootings. That was in 1999. Since then, there have been plenty of opportunities for folks to get all riled up about school shootings. Since Columbine, there were forty-nine additional school shootings resulting in fatalities. Dead kids. Is it any wonder that the nerve that used to twitch at these moments has gone numb?
And that's what Matt and Trey depicted in the first show of their twenty-second season: The boys sitting in math class, unfazed as shots ring out, screams are heard in the halls, and sirens wail. “Shooter down,” says a police officer outside the classroom. Says the teacher, “Now, let’s move on to the next equation.”
I was immediately reminded of the Texas student's reaction to the shooting at her high school: “It’s been happening everywhere,” seventeen year old student Paige Curry said in an interview hours after her school became a part of that list. “I’ve always kind of felt it like eventually it was going to happen here too. I wasn’t surprised, I was just scared.”
Back in South Park: “Who shot up the school?,” Randy, Stan’s dad, asks. “Was it you?”
“No,” says Stan.
“Did you get shot?”
“Oh, well. What’s this about failing a math quiz?”
I suppose I could be embarrassed that these miscreants are making fun of a horrible situation, but I'm not. I'm proud to call them Calluhraduhns.