Be Kind to Kenny: South Park critics miss message

By Kellie Petersen 2008

Some people may say that the standards for television have been lowered dramatically.

Of the many shows that contribute to this idea, Comedy Central’s South Park may be the most popular and well-known.

Since it’s debut in 1997, South Park has always been controversial, often the cause of statements like “I can’t believe they show that on TV!”

What the people that are making these statements fail to see, though, are the underlying ideas and, yes, values, that the plots of South Park often express.

Now, before I explain further about what is good about South Park, I just want to clarify that sometimes the line is pushed a little too far (although I’m sure that’s always the point). South Park is obviously an extremely inappropriate and offensive show. Most details of episodes definitely could not be mentioned in a school newspaper, and deserve it’s TV-MA rating.

That aside, many people that do not watch the show probably do not realize the actual content of each episode. Besides providing surprisingly creative and intelligent comedy, South Park has promoted many important ideas over it’s past 10 seasons. One of my favorite examples of this would be an episode from the very first season. The episode entitled “Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride” is about one of the characters, Stan, who gets a dog. Stan’s dog, Sparky, turns out to be gay. Stan is disappointed that he does not have a “butch” dog and because of this Sparky runs away.

Needless to say the episode deals with the acceptance of gay people and even includes the phrase “It’s OK to be gay.” Whether or not you agree with homosexuality is not the issue here. It’s that a show like South Park can actually support ideas like openness and acceptance. Throughout the other episodes similar ideas can be found if you can look over the other content. Even the movie focused on America’s obsession with obscenities while often disregarding violence.

Besides being able to provide interesting social commentary, South Park is hilarious if you enjoy this type of comedy.

Many of the episodes of South Park involve satire, which is often expressed in an extremely funny and creative manner. I can think of countless episodes involving a satirical plot line. One of the most recent of these episodes would be the Halloween episode involving Satan’s Halloween party, which was an obvious parody of the MTV show My Super Sweet Sixteen and how spoiled and demanding the subjects of the show are. The point here is that even though the episodes can be incredibly obscene and violent, they still contain creative and what I consider to be intelligent comedy.

The actual violent and obscene content of South Park is also something I would like to address, since I can easily assume it is what causes people to misunderstand and dislike the show. This content is meant to be funny, not serious, since South Park is a cartoon. I can completely understand why people would not think this is funny, but I would just like to remind them again that it is not meant to be serious, and they do not have to watch South Park if they do not want to.

I do understand that certain episodes have been extremely offensive to certain groups of people, and this is probably the only aspect of the show that disappoints me, but creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are simply using their right to freedom of speech to express their unique, and what other South Park fans and I consider to be, hilarious view on the world.

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