Tolkien Black? South Park Reveals & Fixes Token’s Real Name – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Tolkien Black? South Park Reveals & Fixes Token’s Real Name

Season 25 has unveiled a surprising revelation in South Park. For the past 20 years, the character Token Black’s name has been incorrectly pronounced. In reality, his name is Tolkien, paying homage to J.R.R. Tolkien. This revelation comes in the second episode of the season, titled “The Big Fix,” which not only explores South Park’s lore but also satirizes its own past.

The episode begins when Randy Marsh, realizing that his family lacks diversity, invites Token and his family over for dinner to make his marijuana business more inclusive. During the dinner, it is revealed that Token’s real name is Tolkien, leaving Stan to grapple with his own potential racism. Stan had always assumed that Token’s name was Token, making him the only one among his friends to believe so.

Since South Park’s second season, Token Black’s name has played on the concept of the “token Black” character, who is introduced solely for the sake of diversity. Token, being the only Black child in town, embodies this trope. However, after more than two decades, South Park turns the joke on itself. In a fourth-wall-breaking moment, Stan’s pediatrician questions the audience, asking if anyone truly believed that a Black couple would name their child Token. This shift in blame acknowledges the problematic nature of the choice and embraces Token’s new name, Tolkien Black.

This self-aware satire showcases South Park’s ability to poke fun at itself while addressing performative allyship. Stan’s attempts to help Tolkien ultimately revolve around alleviating his own guilt rather than genuinely including him in the conversation. Randy, on the other hand, commodifies his new business partner, turning Steve Black into the token Black guy at South Park’s Tegridy Farms. By the end of the episode, Stan and Tolkien find common ground, but Randy and Steve seem poised for a confrontation.

To further emphasize the retconning and self-awareness, the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have changed the subtitles for all previous episodes featuring Token. This synthetic Mandela effect adds to the impression that viewers were mistaken about Token’s name all along, much like Stan and the rest of the South Park cast.

The Marsh family’s involvement in the South Park Token name controversy aligns with the show’s history. Stan’s assumption about Token’s name was not rooted in racism but was simply a misunderstanding. However, Randy’s past choices have been questionable, such as his infamous Wheel of Fortune incident in season 11’s “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson.” In that episode, Randy inadvertently said a racially offensive word on national television, causing embarrassment for Stan and a valuable lesson about the weight of that word.

Despite the Marsh family’s previous experiences, they continue to make mistakes, as seen in the South Park Token name controversy. Randy’s misguided attempt to make Token’s father a token Black business partner only perpetuates racism. This serves as a reminder that the Marsh family still has much to learn.

Season 25 of South Park takes a bold step by retconning a past controversy and injecting humor in a meta way. By acknowledging their mistakes and actively addressing them, the show demonstrates its commitment to growth and improvement. The revelation of Tolkien’s real name aligns with the show’s core values and ensures its relevance regardless of the season viewers join.

In conclusion, South Park’s exploration of the Token name controversy showcases the show’s ability to satirize itself while addressing important social issues. Through self-awareness and retconning, the creators emphasize their commitment to growth and improvement. The Marsh family’s involvement further highlights the show’s consistent themes and characters’ flawed nature. South Park continues to push boundaries and deliver thought-provoking content.

Season 25 revealed that South Park Token’s name has been incorrectly pronounced for 20 years now. The name was actually Tolkien the entire time. South Park season 25, episode 2“The Big Fix,” changes South Park lore and satirizes its own past. When Randy Marsh realizes their family has “no Black friends,” he invites Token and his family over for dinner to make his marijuana business more diverse. During dinner, it is revealed that Token’s name is really Tolkien, after J.R.R. Tolkien. Stan attempts to cope with the possibility he might be racist, as he is the only one among his friends who thought their friend’s name was Token.


Since South Park season 2, Token Black’s name played on the trope of the “token Black” character — a character introduced as a forced diversity — here as the only Black child in the town. After more than 20 years, South Park turns the joke on itself. “The Big Fix” even breaks the fourth wall, as Stan’s pediatrician looks into the camera and demands to know if “anyone else” had “really thought a couple of Black people had a child and named him Token.” This shift in blame acknowledges they know the choice was problematic and moving on with his new name, Tolkien Black.

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“Tolkien Black” Is Astute Self-Satire

Randy Marsh takes a selfie with Tolkien's family in South Park.

When a show is on the air as long as South Parkthere are aspects that don’t translate well as the show ages, especially when those choices were questionable from the start. Instead of doubling down on past decisions, the episode pokes fun at itself in a way only South Park can while satirizing the phenomenon of performative allyship. Stan’s efforts to “help” Tolkien end up being more about assuaging his own guilt than anything else and actually end up excluding Tolkien from the conversation altogether.

Randy only commodifies his new business partner, attempting to turn Steve Black into the “token Black guy” of South Park‘s Tegridy Farms. While Stan and Tolkien eventually reach an understanding by the end of the episode, Randy and Steve prepare for what seems to be an all-out war. It really took the South Park Token name controversy and turned it into a smartly creative storyline.

Matt And Trey Took The Joke Further Than The Episode

Matt Stone & Trey Parker from South Park.

If this fourth-wall-breaking moment of self-aware retconning within “The Big Fix” weren’t enough, South Park creators Matt and Trey actually took the joke (and the fix) one step further. In line with the revelation that Tolkien Black’s name has really been Tolkien the whole time, Comedy Central has gone back and changed the subtitles for every prior South Park episode featuring the character so that they too now read “Tolkien” instead of “Token.”

The result is sort of a synthetic Mandela effect, in which viewers who definitively remember the character being named Token (because he actually was) now get the impression that they were mistaken all along, just like Stan, Randy, and the rest of the South Park cast. This deep retcon of the name is incredibly thorough, but that’s also in line with South Park‘s core values. The full update of Tolkien’s name brings the show in line with the times no matter the season in which viewers join while taking the joke as far as it can go is a classic move in South Park’s comedic style.

With “The Big Fix,” South Park retcons a past controversy and its humor in a meta way. The chastising delivered to the audience via the doctor’s fourth-wall break is really directed at the show’s creators, who obviously did name the character Token Black back in South Park season 2. While retconning can’t undo some of the series’ questionable past decisions and controversies, South Park has at least proven it isn’t above pointing out its own mistakes and cleaning them up thoroughly. The South Park Token name controversy is no different.

Tolkien’s Real Name Reveal Continued A Marsh Family Trend

Randy Marsh on Wheel of Fortune in South Park.

The idea of making the entire South Park Token name controversy part of the Marsh family storyline actually played well with what Matt Stone and Trey Parker have done before with their characters. This is not the first time that a member of the Marsh family ended up looking racist, even if it was never on purpose. Stan was not racist for thinking that Tolkien’s name was Token – he just heard it and assumed that was what it was. On the other hand, his dad Randy has made plenty of questionable decisions on the show. Trying to make Tolkien’s dad a “token” Black business partner was as racist as anything he has done on the show.

However, this also happened many years before in the South Park season 11 episode, “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson.” In this episode, one in which many fans felt that South Park went too far, Randy got a chance to appear on Wheel of Fortune. The puzzle he had to solve had all the letters but one and those were “N-GGERS.” Of course, the answer was naggers (someone who annoys people by constantly finding fault). However, Randy said the one word that he never should have on national television, and that angered Tolkien long before Randy realized his family had gotten his name wrong for all these years.

That moment brought a lot of shame for Stan at school, and he learned a valuable lesson. That was when Stan learned that the word was one that was wrong for his dad to say, and he knew his dad was an idiot for saying it. As Stan said at the end, no white kid in the school could ever know the weight of that word. However, this is the Marsh family, and as the South Park Token name controversy showed, neither Stan nor his dad Randy really learned their lesson. Randy once again put his foot in his mouth and Stan once again had to feel the brunt of his family’s lack of common sense.

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