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In the Southpark episode “Britney’s New Look” Stan, Cartman, Kyle, and Butters decide to make some money by snapping a photograph of Britney Spears who happens to be holed up in the local Komfort Inn. They eventually make it into her room only to find that Spears has attempted suicide. Stan and Kyle decide they need to help the now badly scarred Britney escape from the overwhelming presence of the media. They take a train to the North Pole (as a voice over establishes a Frosty the Snowman motif) only to find that the train somehow has been diverted back to South Park. As they scramble off of the train a media hoard chases down a distraught yet resigned Britney. Kyle is relieved to see his parents, begging them to intervene, only to hear them say that it is inevitable… Britney must die. Stan and Kyle are told that the ancient practice of sacrificing virgins to ensure a good crop (the corn crop) is still alive and well. Only, Americans can’t stomach the violence and blood of an actual sacrifice, so they do it through the media. Young women are chosen and groomed to become stars and they are sacrificed to the media for the good of the community by ensuring a bountiful harvest. Eventually, those who are chosen must die. In their wake, new women are chosen and groomed so the cycle of prosperity can continue undisturbed. The episode ends with everyone pulling out a camera to snap pictures of a dying Britney. A doctor, the same one who treated her wounds early in the episode, looks for a pulse and declares her dead. The scene cuts to a corn field and supermarket – the sacrifice has worked as the harvest was a success.
The scariest part of the episode is the very end. As people mill about the supermarket heads turn to watch the TV tell about a successful 15 year old girl with the screen name Hannah Montana. “Looks like next year’s crop is going to be even better,” someone says, as the episode ends. Cut to 2013 and the pictures of Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) engaged in an obscene dance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Awards. The media backlash has been brutal, and hypocritical, blasting the obscene sexualization of Hannah Montana as they show the video clips and pictures over and over in between commercials that objectify women for monetary gain. The media has sensationalized the story, shamelessly using it for their own purpose, appealing to some higher moral code even as they wipe the blood from their hands. The prophetic message of Southpark is that as a media obsessed culture we are all complicit – Miley Cyrus has to be sacrificed for the good of the people, the prosperity of the nation, and for corn crops everywhere.