Are South Park creators modern day Mark Twains?

Are South Park creators modern day Mark Twains? David Wissel ‘12 Comedy Central’s massively popular, although controversial, show, South Park, is infamous for its crude language, violence and dark, surreal humor. The creators of the show, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have expressed an extreme dislike for political correctness, which is often apparent in the “toilet humor” of the show. It attempts to simplify the current issues of today’s society by presenting them through the eyes of fourth grade boys. The boys are often cruel and use vulgar language, but they make insightful points about the hypocrisy and decadence of today’s society. The creators of the show have stated that the reason for this is because they want to realistically portray “how little boys talk when no one else is around, to give people a sense of what it would be like to be a kid again.” In other words, although the boys are very cruel, they have an underlying “sweetness” or innocence. The show often ridicules trends and portrays the adults in the show as slaves to sensational news and mass media. Although many critics dismiss the show as unsophisticated and childish, I believe it intelligently presents a highly satirical vision of the state of modern America. South Park places its focus on the perspectives of four fourth graders in South Park, Colorado; Kenny McCormick, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Eric Cartman. Stan and Kyle are pretty much the main characters, protagonists and “good guys” of the show. They represent a view of America through the eyes of the “Average Joe”. They are both intelligent, kind, and make the most social commentary throughout the course of the show. At the end of the show they often say “You know, I learned something today…” and then begin to talk about the lesson they learned from the events of the episode. Although they show many similarities to the adults and their peers in the show (such as their use of profanity, childlike tendencies, etc.), they are very different, as they can see through the phoniness of the world in which they live. In contrast to Stan and Kyle, there is Eric Cartman, who represents a view of America through the eyes of an ignorant jerk. Although he is actually pretty intelligent, he is an overweight, immature, spoiled, outspoken, homophobic, manipulative, lazy, foul-mouthed, mean-spirited, sadistic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, sociopathic, narcissistic, and ill-tempered elementary school student and who tends to be the antagonist throughout much of the show. Kenny McCormick represents low-income and poverty stricken people. He is often ridiculed by the other boys and society seems to ignore his struggles. South Park isn’t the only piece of satire that has been attacked by critics for its offensive content and language. Mark Twain’s 19 th century masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has always been a source of controversy. Many of the characters in the book use racial slurs, which reflect the attitudes and values of the time. Although many contend that this book is racist, most critics have stated that it is in fact anti -racist. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn satires prejudiced and ignorant people as hypocritical idiots similar to the way South Park does. Both works show ignorance as it really is- no matter how offensive it may be. It seems there are very few current events and trends in society that can escape the satirical wrath of South Park. It has covered topics ranging from consumerism all the way to Jersey Shore. The shows are created in a week’s time and are delivered to Comedy Central just a day before the broadcast of the episode. Although this may be stressful for creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, it ensures that every episode is up to date and ready to ridicule whatever the current “big thing” is. Andy Warhol once said that “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Well one thing’s for sure, whoever is currently getting their “15 minutes of fame” you can be sure that there will be an episode of South Park to make fun of them.