Few TV shows have managed to be as continually button-pushing as Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “South Park.” Certainly the show has been surpassed from time to time by other audacious material, but nothing has been so enduringly offensive as “South Park”; the show has continually rallied, found some new sensitive subject, and summarily torn it to bits (it was, after all, the first show to ever be labeled TV MA). So, whether you love it or hate it (or, like this writer, love and hate it) it’s hard not to respect the 20 crude, acerbic, caustic, surreal, hilarious, revolutionary years of the show.
One area in particular where “South Park” has pushed the envelope is language — a transgression made possible by the murky rules of cable. Way back in 2001 the episode “It Hits The Fan” used a ticker to count up each of the 162 times “shit” was said uncensored. Since, the show has ramped things up considerably. The problem is, so too has television in general. Which, in a way, has normalized “South Park,” making it seem more toothless than before. But is it?
A new video essay from KaptainKristian, “South Park – Language And Censorship,” is here to explore the show’s evolution from a fringe spectacle (at a fringe network), to its current status as a profound cultural mainstay. Part of this success is the normalization of the offensive and profane, so much so that today, as crude as ever, “South Park” hardly ever makes headlines like it used to. Like it or not, “South Park” has made its vulgar, provocative brand of comedy completely acceptable. Which, it should be noted, is a win for us all.
So, whether you’re a fan of the show or not, “South Park – Language and Censorship” is a fascinating look at an innovative piece of pop culture. Check out the video above and weigh in with your thoughts on the abrasive, delightful show below.