‘South Park’ Facebook Episode Takes A Trip To ‘Tron’

Last night, “South Park” sent a message about Facebook: friends lists aren’t status symbols. It was a typically zany treatment by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but the humor felt… off. In this time when fast-growing social network Twitter is frequently looked to as a source of news, Facebook is starting to feel outdated. Parker and Stone get ChatRoulette in there, the Farmville craze, a Jim Cramer/”Mad Money” reference, even a brief OLPC shout… but where was Twitter?

Stan, who bucks against the social networking site, is literally sucked into the computer world of Facebook. A world which bears a striking resemblance to the digital landscapes of “Tron,” right down to glowing suit-clad user Programs, realized here as Profiles. What’s odd to me is that many of the jokes could have easily been tweaked to apply to Twitter instead. So why did Parker and Stone spare the micro-blogging network and instead rain their unique brand of relevant, irreverent humor down on a service that many see as yesterday’s news?

I think part of it is that Parker and Stone love to pick on older folks. The 12-35s dictate the ebbs and flows of pop culture, but their elders tend to follow along slightly afterwards. How many of us have dealt with relatives and family friends on Facebook? Far fewer than have dealt with the same on Twitter, I imagine. That still doesn’t explain why Twitter was spared; I don’t have an answer, and I’m curious to hear what you all think.

That said, how cool was the “Tron” stuff? The reference mainly boiled down to dressing a whole bunch of “South Park” residents in circuit board-patterned glowing suits, but there were a few more subtle nods. The Program/Profile link I’ve already mentioned. The gaming arena ties to the disc battles of “Tron,” except the deadly game here is Yahtzee.

Those are some dated references right there. “Tron Legacy” hits theaters at the end of this year, but how many kids have really seen the original? And Yahtzee? Really? Parker and Stone’s comedic sensibilities truly baffle me. They’re at times brilliant socio-cultural commentators; “Trapped in the Closet” and “All About the Mormons” are proof enough of that. And at other times, their output more suggests two stoned dudes tapping into childhood nostalgia.

Where do you think this episode falls on the Parker/Stone spectrum? Why do you think they ignored Twitter? Did you enjoy the “Tron” bits? What more could they have done with that?