Since 1997, South Park has been the non-child friendly animated series that uses relevant topics as the theme for its episodes.
Centered around the antics of four boys, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovksi, Kenny McCormick and Eric Cartman, the show has been making fans laugh for over 20 years through their comedic style that some might deem as immature and offensive.
With creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park has completed 20 seasons and are in the midst season 21. A main stay on Comedy Central’s lineup, South Park has been poking fun at almost everyone, and everything over the years showing that no one and nothing is safe from being joked at on Parker and Stone’s show.
From taking shots at pop culture icons such Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise, to making fun of political figures such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Parker and Stone have not shied away from making fun of anyone or anything.
Even a national tragedy like 9/11 isn’t immune to being the center of the episodes jokes. Heck, South Park has even made fun of Jesus Christ! One of the most prominent religious figures in the world has been a recurring character in the series’ history.
With all that South Park has done, it presents the question, has South Park gone too far? Have Parker and Stone gone overboard with their jokes and storylines to the point that it makes serious issues seem like a joke?
My answer is simple. No, not at all. South Park doesn’t go too far with its use of satire of societal issues to the point where it makes them feel like a joke, and here’s why.
South Park is an animated comedy series meant to make people have a good laugh, but, their comedy doesn’t make real life issues feel like a cheap punch line. I believe the episodes are well thought out and makes fun of societal issues in a way that people find acceptable and can get them to laugh about the world’s problems.
From the 20 plus seasons that South Park has been around, we can go on and on and pick through any episode and see how it makes fun of societal problems, but there’s one episode in particular where I believe Parker and Stone hit the nail on the coffin of making fun of a societal issue in a way that is acceptable.
The episode I’m talking about is season 21’s third episode, titled “Put it down.”
“Put it down” opens with a supporting character, Tweek, playing a song at the school play. Tweek’s song is just an overall freakout about the North Korea nuclear missile situation and the the role President Garrison, who is a proxy charater for President Donald Trump, has had through his Twitter account.
After seeing Tweek’s freakout during the school talent show, his boyfriend, Craig, consoles him and tries to help him by giving him the advice to do something nice for the North Koreans as a symbol that the president doesn’t represent all of us.
Tweek then takes it upon himself to bake cupcakes and send them over to the North Koreans. As a result, the North Koreans are delighted with the cupcakes, but Garrison continues his antics on Twitter by claiming Tweek, a former student of his, defecated in the cupcakes and claiming Tweek isn’t afraid of their threat. As you can imagine, Tweek freaks out and continues to stress over the threat of a nuclear war with North Korea. Tweek continues to freakout and Craig tries to console him, but it is to no avail.
Meanwhile Tweek is freaking out, another group of students in the elementary are trying to spread awareness on the dangers of distracted driving. As we see children die from distracted drivers, their efforts have no momentum until the closing of the episode.
In a collaborated effort by Tweek, Craig and the rest of the students they perform a song titled “Put it down.” The message of the song being that if you find yourself becoming a president at any point durning the day you need to put down your mobile device to avoid causing accidents and harming others.
I think we can all understand what Parker and Stone are getting at here, right?
Now, does comedy like this make the serious, real life threat of a nuclear war with North Korea seem like a joke. I don’t believe so. This episode shows how South Park is able to perfectly use serious situations and make them humorous. South Park didn’t go to far in this episode nor has it gone too far in the past.
South Park is perfect the way it is. The way Parker and Stone take real life situations and make them into a joke doesn’t desensitize us from these issues. Their show gives us an outlet to laugh about these things and not let the problems engulf our lives.
Whether you watch South Park or not is fine with me. If you don’t, I get it, its not your type of comedy. If you do, that’s great, we have something in common. We are all different, so to determine what is entertaining to us all is subjective. We all have different interests, but for an animated series to have lasted over 20 years, using the same type of humor since episode one speaks for itself.
I think Parker and Stone have found the right formula to mesh comedy with reality, and as long as keep that same formula, just like many others, I’ll keep watching right with them.