8 Man and South Park

This is for SDSTAFF Scott. I am sure you’ve received plenty of flames for your off-the-cuff slam against South Park contained in your reply to the question about a cigarette smoking superhero in the 60’s. I am not here to flame, but simply inform and disagree. In a statement filled with contempt, you stated “Better, apparently, that kids be watching the slightly masked profanity and the supposed hilarious running gag of a child being violently killed each week on the abysmally-written, -acted, and -animated South Park.”

First of all, if in fact you’ve ever WATCHED the aforementioned show, you should know that it’s not for children. South Park been given the FCC required rating TV-MA, which means "TV-MA “MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY. THIS PROGRAM MAY CONTAIN MATURE THEMES, PROFANE LANGUAGE, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, AND EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT.” This rating is generally understood to mean that the show is not for kids under 17.

But that’s not all. South Park issues it’s own custom-made disclaimer at the beginning of every show, which states: “All characters and events in theis show – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional. All celebrity voices are impersonated…poorly. The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone.” So, I don’t agree that the originators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, or anyone else intended it to be viewed by kids. It’s a common assumption that I would like to take a definate stand against - that animation=kids fare. I’m not certain where in U.S. history this became a commonly held belief, in fact, that would make for an interesting column right there. But I do know that in the 1920’s and 30’s there were plenty of animated cartoons intended for mature audiences only, such as the old risque Betty Boop cartoons, before the censors made them lengthen her skirt and cutsey-fi the plotlines. And there is, at present, plenty of adult-oriented animation out there, so people had better get used to the idea that all animation is not for children.

And as for your estimation of the quality of writing, acting, and animation, well, of course, that’s something pretty objective, though plenty of people would disagree with you, including me, and I am one of the pickiest television or film viewers you’ll ever meet (bad acting or writing will have me turning off the program within seconds, I can assure you.) However, it’s obvious by your reference to the weekly recurring death of Kenny, that you don’t get the joke - that he dies every week, and not only are his friends hardly disturbed, but no one seems to notice when he is resurrected weekly, except when Stone and Parker riff on their own in-joke (Kenny keeps being placed in hazardous situations and doesn’t die in one episode, he dies many times in others, etc.) This is a parody of the television milieu regarding continuity, violence, and the consequences of death, and I do find this very funny.

You also mentioned the “slightly masked profantity.” The profanity in South Park is deliberately stuck way out there for everyone to see, kept just within FCC (and probably Comedy Central) limits to keep it on the air. It isn’t intentionally masked to fool anyone, including parents, into thinking this is an okay show for everyone.

South Park in general is a parody of our normal expectations of television, cartoons, children’s behavior, and popular culture in general, so if you aren’t savvy to this to begin with when you watch it, you’ll miss the point and probably hate it.

In any case, I kind of do find it funny that you think that having a cigarette smoking superhero farely harmless. I mean, he smokes to gain a boost of strength? Sounds like an RJR Reynolds executive’s wet dream, if you ask me. That’s gotta make some kind of subliminal impression on a kid’s mind, that may or may not influence the decision to start smoking. I’m not generally reactionary about the content of cartoons, but this sounds like tobacco industry propoganda to me.

Of course, I meant “subjective” when I said “objective” and “fairly” when I said “farely”. South Park, or a lack of a decent breakfast? You decide.

and the FCC doesn’t require the ratings…it’s a voluntary thing that the networks do…