It pains me greatly to hear people speak badly of what should be considered one of the greatest contributions to modern society. They call it names, and they berate it. They say it is immature and juvenile. However, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s South Park will always hold a special place in my heart.
The problem is that people tend to focus on the so-called “toilet humor” that the show is so fond of, and in doing so they miss the deep and insightful messages that pervade these brilliant stories. Hidden behind crude animation, fart jokes, and numerous references to bodily fluids and parts that shall not be named in the pages of this fine upstanding publication are messages that we can all learn from. These are stories that inspire us to embrace the humanity in every one of us, and cut out all the crap. South Park is not afraid of tackling any topic, no matter how delicate or taboo it may be, and therefore is incredibly successful at opening up a dialogue concerning all sorts of important and relevant issues.
Another thing that South Park excels at is selecting targets for its satirical weaponry. The show manages to pick the people that we all want to laugh at, and take them down a notch by depicting them in a manner that is somewhat less than flattering. From Mel Gibson to Ben Affleck, from Osama Bin Laden to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, NAMBLA and handicapped people, nothing that is relevant to the realm of popular culture escapes its sharp wit. Although many people may claim that poking fun at serious topics is inappropriate and makes light of serious issues, the truth is that the only way to question assumptions that we all have is to drop all the trappings of our politically correct culture and use a humorous setup to make people laugh and say “hey, maybe they really have a point after all.” There is something disarming and non-threatening about a child that allows the young boys and girls of South Park to bring home relevant and serious questions to viewers without them raising protective fences to avoid the difficult issues.
Take for example the episode where the school mascot (a cow) gets banned by PETA. In order to replace it, the children vote for a new mascot. The final voting competition ends up being a choice between a turd sandwich, and a giant douche. One of the boys decides that he has no interest in voting because both of the choices are so lousy. As a response to that, the entire town bands together and exiles him for refusing to responsibly exercise his rights. In the end, this rebel learns his lesson and comes back and votes. As he put it “I learnt that I better get used to having to pick between a douche and a turd sandwich, because it’s usually the choice I’ll have.” All through this odyssey, some of our favorite targets feel the heat. From a look inside the PETA compound where everyone is married to animals, to a depiction of Puffy’s “Vote or Die” campaign as a trip around the country shooting everyone who won’t vote, to an almost-realistic view of debates where slogans get bantered around and nothing of substance ever gets said, this one episode manages to showcase the comedic potential in political movements and extremist groups.
Maybe if we all watched more South Park, the world would be a kinder, more gentler place. Yes, we may all end up walking around laughing at bodily functions. However, if we do it in a world filled with laughter, joy and eternal peace, then a few fart jokes would be a small price to pay.
DK is a 1L who watches too much TV.