South Park Intelligent Social Satire


I had a conversation at lunchtime today with some random old lady at the tram stop near my work. The conversation started off about how there was some guy next to me that looked like Kyle Saunders but then trailed off to what “good” shows are airing on tv. There was only so much that I wanted to continue on with this conversation and I ended up disappointing her and saying, I generally don’t watch a great deal of tv because there’s a whole heap of garbage out there. She responded by being alarmed and saying at least watch Sea Patrol. The conversation with her just accentuated the notion that there is a lot of garbage out there. I was watching old episodes of South Park the other day. Some find South Park extremely vulgar and I can see why it wouldn’t be some people’s cup of tea, it can be disturbingly warped, grotesque and excessively crude. All this aside, South Park is actually very clever and is a brilliant social satire. Surprisingly it would probably provoke more meaningful thought than some of the rubbish that is aired on tv.

I watched South Park’s ImaginationLand, Cartoon Wars and Go God Go. All episodes are exceptionally smart and inventive. ImaginationLand is quite gruesome and bizarre, for example you have all the Good ImaginationLand characters being blasted with bombs, severed body parts are flung around, manbearpig ravages everyone on site and then you have the woodland critters and their disturbing exploits. Underneath the grotesqueness of ImaginationLand there is an underlying valuable message. What the episode is trying to convey is that terrorist attacks in the Western World have invoked a climate of fear and have let our imaginations run wild. This message brought me back to the movie "Zeitgeist" and the idea of fear being used as a controlling mechanism. I started thinking where it stems from and whether we have socially conditioned ourselves through various means such as religion, or perhaps it is a human trait. We are species competing for survival and have developed this attribute of fear induced by our competing nature.

Cartoon Wars also shares a similar message. It makes inferences on the incident which I remember reading in “The God Delusion”. The incident involves a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad which lead to demonstrators burning Danish flags, embassies and consulates being trashed, Danish goods being boycotted, Danish citizens physically threatened. Nine people were killed when Libyan rioters attacked and burned the Italian consulate in Benghazi. Demonstrators carried banners with the messages, “Slay those who insult Islam,” “Butcher those who mock Islam,” “Europe will pay; demolition is on its way.” The episode is about freedom of speech and how freedom of speech is in jeopardy when we let terrorism and fear dominate and control us.

Go God Go satires the evolution and creationism debate. It pokes fun at both views. I think this episode is brilliant and think it has a very significant message. Richard Dawkins is a brilliant intelligent man (I’ve probably seen every documentary made by him, have read his works and generally share his ideas) however, with all he’s efforts to educate, to enlighten us, he is at the same time inciting attacks on differing points of views. Atheism, polytheism, monotheism, secularism, agnostism and religious-isms on top of that.... all this categorisation, this separateness is the cause of the great divide, the cause of great turmoil in the world. Dawkins is just creating another party to be at war with, as Tray Parker and Matt Stone put it in Go God Go, a militant brand of Atheism. We need to eliminate this idea of separateness, respect other beliefs, think rationally, and we need to educate ourselves, question everything and be open to alternative ideas.

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