I watched South Park as a kid. I wasn’t allowed to, but like any child at that age would, my friend and I snuck behind our parent’s backs and would watch recorded shows on VHS. My parents may have been horrified upon learning how that show was influencing me. Today, they may be grateful.
At the time, I watched it because it had everything a 13-year-old boy could ask for. It had fart jokes, cuss words, wildly outlandish situations, and quotable characters who talked about their butt a lot. It didn’t obey political correctness either, which meant that a lot of moral busybodies got angry about it, which made the show all that much cooler.
The show evolved from being just a bunch of shock moments, and so did my friends and I. As we grew up with the show, my peers and I began to see the messages behind the fart and sex jokes. It became fun to discern what the show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, were really getting at in each episode. Be it cultural or political, a point was usually being made and I and kids my age were all eating it up.
Rest assured, Parker and Stone never really took a defined political side. Their primary target of ridicule was people who took themselves too seriously, and whether you fell on the left or the right, you were probably going to get lampooned. While the right has gotten its fair share of knocks, you can bet the left was on the chopping block far more than the right.
I can’t give you any exact numbers or a scientific confirmation but, if I were a betting man, I would put a lot of people’s rejection of leftist moralizing and sensationalism as a result of Stone and Parker’s influence. I know I can attribute my own to them, at least in part.
South Park taught me that the kind of overdramatic pearl-clutching from the left deserves to be laughed at. Stone and Parker used absurdity to highlight the absurdity of any given situation happening in the mainstream and ripped away the veil of political correctness and public opinion to show us just how asinine things were.
Many people saw the reaction of people toward these things and began proclaiming that South Park was influencing a generation of apathetic people. That wasn’t the case. We just thought it was funny to watch people devolve into something that resembled Chicken Little every time an issue was brought up. We weren’t laughing at many of the issues being presented to us, but we sure as hell were laughing at the people who were putting themselves on pedestals or making themselves more self-important than they needed to be.
An issue can be looked at seriously, and many should. What we should never do is create sacred cows around issues. Doing that usually makes a problem even worse. South Park wasn’t afraid of ripping on the politically correct holy bovines that were constantly popping up in the ’90s and early ’00s.
Aside from being outrageously funny, the show killed so many sacred cows it could qualify as a slaughterhouse.
From nearly the beginning, South Park was making fun of people who took it too far. For instance, when Jennifer Aniston guest-starred in the episode “Rainforest Shmainforest,” the show made fun of environmentalists and cringy eco-activism.
They also took a shot at celebrities who are famous for being famous. In the episode “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset,” Stone and Parker’s exaggeration of Paris Hilton and the fawning reactions of her fans highlight just how ridiculous worship of people like her or Kim Kardashian can be.
They even made fun of the racial struggles between white and black people within western culture, even going so far as to mock Jessie Jackson for his behavior during racial controversies.
The subjects are innumerable. South Park poked fun at the atheists, Mormons, and especially Scientologists. They’ve made fun of 9/11 conspiracy theorists to reality television. People made fun of ranged from Gloria Allred to Richard Dawkins.
Running gags also provided excellent commentary. The teachers at South Park often highlighted the ridiculousness of public education and showed that kids were learning mostly useless information such as the plot of episodes of “Friends.” In fact, at one point, the students get an actual teacher and the students comment about how it’s nice to actually be learning something for a change.
As South Park evolved it became more on the nose about its attacks on things the left found holy, such as social justice and safe spaces. In fact, Stone and Parker took on the concept of safe spaces directly in the episode “In My Safe Space,” which even featured a music video.
This last season hasn’t been an exception either.
Now in its 23rd season, South Park is openly making fun of subjects that typically get people canceled.
So far, they’ve made fun of American businesses being a slave to China and took the liberty of openly defying Chinese censors, which resulted in the show’s complete ban from the country…
…to making fun of transgendered people in sports.
As a grown man now deep into a career as a political/social commentator, many of the points made by Stone and Parker are points I make on a daily basis, but not everyone has the time or capability to access the information I do on a daily basis. It’s still influencing people years down the road, whether they’re old enough to watch it or not.
Any show that cuts through the super-thick layers of political correctness and social niceties in order to get at the truth of something should be valued in this day and age like it was pure gold. South Park is the only show of its kind, and while we may have news and commentary programs that tell it like it is, they’re not going to have the same effect as South Park.
This is why I can say with some confidence that South Park might be the most important show on television. More people should be watching it and while it won’t change the minds of SJWs engrained in their ideology, it will cause them to flip out and do exactly what the show said they would. This, in turn, would be seen by the general public who will recognize the craziness and do what people should have been doing all along: laughing at it.
On top of that, more shows should then have the bravery to make the same kind of commentary in their programs in their own way. They don’t have to make fun of it as South Park does, but just talking about something like transgenderism in sports in realistic terms would be a huge step forward.
South Park may be a comedy, but imagine if it inspired shows with more serious tones to really buckle down about the LGBT activist takeover of schools, or the problems with socialism.
We should all be watching South Park. It may be a cartoon, but its realism is unparalleled.