It’s almost common knowledge that with every new episode of South Park, major controversy follows. The racy, crude, and often extremely offensive show is known for its disregard for any limits that other programs might hold themselves to. If there’s a line, South Park has crossed it. If there’s a distasteful joke, South Park has made it. South Park almost always goes above and beyond what’s perceived to be acceptable and makes fun of everyone and anything it can. Because of this, the show has been a target for angry parents or anyone offended by their rude humor. But, what some forget is that South Park does not make offensive jokes just to be offensive, but rather to satirize. Often, South Park will target societal flaws and viciously attack them, or recreate them on such an over the top level that what once seemed like acceptable just looks silly. South Park’s ability to make intelligent commentary through seemingly unintelligent humor makes it the greatest modern satire.
An example of South Park’s genius satire is the episode “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow”. In this episode, Stan and Cartman, two of the main characters of the show, accidently destroy the world’s largest beaver damn, which subsequently floods the nearby town. The two agree to tell no one, rather decide let the whole situation work itself out. Unfortunately, no one seems to be willing to help the men and women of the flooded town. When Stan asks his dad why no one has gone to their aid, his dad, Randy, answers, “That’s not important right now, son. What’s important is figuring out whose fault this is.” That simple sentence perfectly summarizes a common attitude taken towards many situations these days. The people spend so much time trying to find out who’s to blame no one actually gets around to solving the problem.
Another great example of South Park’s brand of satire is “Sexual Healing”. This episode was aired in response to the Tiger Woods scandal, in the famous golfer’s unfaithful actions were all brought to light. In the episode, scientists become concerned with the sexual antics of many rich and successful people. Once scientist states, “We all know that the normal, healthy male thinks only of sex occasionally and has no desire for sex with multiple partners.” Unable to comprehend the deviant actions of celebrities, the United States tries desperately to search for the reason behind their sexual escapades. Ultimately this ‘abnormal’ behavior is blamed on the ‘disease’ called sex addiction. Because of this new discovery, many kids across America are tested for sex addiction. As with every South Park episode, the ridiculousness continues to build until the entire nation blames the sex addiction outbreak on a wizard alien living in Independence Hall (which actually ends up existing). After Kyle and Butters, two of the main characters diagnosed with sex addiction, kill the alien, celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen are supposedly ‘cured’ of their ‘disease’. This outlandish episode perfectly satirizes society’s inability to understand the scandalous actions of celebrities and suggests that, given the same situation, most men would do the exact same thing.
“Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow” and “Sexual Healing” are just two examples of the many clever and satirical South Park episodes. The show perfectly holds a mirror up to life, displaying humanity’s own behaviors through idiotic characters to show how ridiculous people are. People can laugh at the different characters’ stupid antics, but also see a bit of themselves in their actions. South Park is able to show the silliest qualities of society at their most extreme, showing how truly preposterous they really are.