The problem with Yelp and other similar crowd-sourced reviews websites is that everyone thinks he or she is a food critic on par with the likes of Jonathan Gold, Ruth Reichl, Jay Rayner, Robert Sietsema, Alan Richman, Gail Simmons, and so on and so on. Then, there are those who take it to the next level, who think they can exert some form of power by threatening a restaurant that’s not willing to jump through hoops, with a bad review. It’s these terrible Yelpers that are the focus of South Park’s hilarious scorn this week.
In the episode, “You’re Not Yelping“ (via Eater), the seminal series on Comedy Central pokes fun at Yelp restaurant reviewers. For example, Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s father, thinks his reviews are words of gold and that “everyone relies on my Yelp reviews and I don’t want to let anyone down.” Meanwhile, Cartman uses his threat of one-star reviews to extort freebies from restaurants. Eventually, restaurant owners fight back, leading to actual warfare between them and Yelp reviewers.
As ridiculous as it sounds, South Park’s biting commentary makes an interesting point about social media, where everyone now has a soapbox to make noise. Even more dangerous is how users have taken to Yelp to hurt businesses that they’ve never even visited. While Yelp’s commenters are useful in helping us narrow down our list of places to eat or locate eateries with health code violations, some are obviously using the site as a form of entitlement.