South Park is no stranger to controversy and even prides itself on triggering its audience.
But when the show returned for its 21st season on Wednesday night, the premiere episode managed to trigger a new section of the populace: digital home assistants.
The episode, entitled “White People Renovating Houses”, was mainly focused on taking shots at white nationalism but in a subplot, Cartman and co decided to mess around with home assistants such as Alexa and Google Home.
As a result, many viewers had their home assistants tricked into saying some very South Park-ish things.
Who else’s Alexa’s keep going off every time Cartman says something on the Alexa during this South Park episode 😂 #SouthPark21 pic.twitter.com/strwnTST23
— Kenny Eaton (@Kenny_623) September 14, 2017
@SouthPark nailed it tonight. In other news I have an erroneous alarm set for 7am and a set of hairy balls on my shopping list. #alexa
— Barto (@scottbarto) September 14, 2017
Watching the new @SouthPark episode & my Alexa went off 😂😂😂 #SouthPark21 pic.twitter.com/0ehBuAxVpp
— Jessica Plunkett (@Jesserican) September 14, 2017
Watching the new @SouthPark episode, and the show has already added about six inappropriate items to my echo dot shopping list. Lmao.
— Quintin Casper (@quintincasper) September 14, 2017
This is not the first time digital home assistants have been set off by television.
In January, a little girl asked Alexa to buy her a dollhouse and after obediently Alexa complied, the girl’s parents told the local news what had happened.
As reported in The Verge, when San Diego CW6’s news anchor said “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse’”, it in turn triggered a whole bunch of viewers devices. Dollhouses for everyone!
It didn’t take long for marketers to see the evil potential for home assistant mischief. In April, Burger King released a new ad purposely designed to hijack the Google Home’s of the world.
The ad goaded Google Home’s into reading a long description of the Whopper Burger from Wikipedia. What Burger King might not have counted on was users jumping on to the Wiki to change the description of the Whopper to things like “cancer-causing.” Further proof that we should never, ever underestimate the power of trolls.
Google quickly killed the Whopper command. But it is likely that other shows and ads may cause similar problems in the future. In that case, you may want to disable voice activated purchases if you own an Alexa or Google Home.