By Isaac Mathewson
For 16 years, “South Park” has entertained and offended people all over the world. With over 200 episodes, a feature film, several video games and a huge amount of merchandise it continues to be Comedy Central’s highest rated shows, as well as being one of the most popular animated shows in history.
I myself have been a fan of the show since I was about 10 and to this day it is one of my favorite TV shows as well as a major comedic influence in my life. Now with it coming into its 17th season, I have decided to give some of my viewpoints on the many criticisms of this hit show.
Ever since it first aired in 1997, “South Park” has been a target for criticism for many reasons. It has often been criticized for its coarse use of foul language, toilet humor, racial slurs, and violent images, among many other factors. While many viewers claim that these elements are funny and at times it is well written social satire, others see it as inappropriate behavior that is offensive and is “corrupting” our children. I am going to explain the truth behind these criticisms.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show’s creators, have said that “South Park” is social satire that is meant to be viewed by adults only. They say that at, literally, the very beginning of every episode. It has a lot of adult content both in its subject matter as well as in the topics it covers. One of the biggest issues, if not the biggest issue, is the pervasive language in the show. This is also the theme of the film. Many parents have complained that the language corrupts youth. However, the real truth behind the pervasive use of language is the fact that the creators say that this is what children say when they are alone, and they are trying to accurately portray kids in their dialogue and their ideas.
Another major issue is the portrayal of prejudice, most notably the way the character Eric Cartman constantly torments fellow student Kyle Broflovski for being Jewish. Many people have criticized this because they feel that this is making prejudice and racial slurs look acceptable. The reason behind this is that the creators wanted to show what it is like to be the only Jewish kid in school, as co-creator Matt Stone went through that phase himself. It is also meant to show human behavior, and how we as a species treat others who are different.
The show is not without its flaws. Sometimes it can be too over-the-top, and it can be disturbing and occasionally disgusting. However, what we really need to do is look at it based on its writing and the topics that the show covers. Some of its writing is very good and it does at times have good messages. If anyone wants to see the art behind “South Park,” I would recommend the episodes “Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants,” “Margaritaville,” “Make Love Not Warcraft,” and “Chin Pokomon.”
I am psyched about the upcoming 17th season, and I hope that the show continues on for several more years. Hopefully, we can all look past the adult content, and appreciate the show as well written satire, as well as some of the best comedy of the past 20 years.