I’ve always been fascinated in how, or even if, our artistic tastes reflect who we are as people, for it’s not a fact that our tastes reflect our personality. However, based on my experience, I do believe that our artistic preferences, whether it be our favorite show or genre of music, offer at least some insight to who we are.
What makes me mediate on this topic recently is my relationship to Comedy Central’s “South Park.” Like many people around my age, I grew up watching “South Park” without really understanding a lot of the humor. Sure, I was able to enjoy the silliness and absurdity of the show but was never able to grasp the satirical aspect of the show. After not paying attention to the show for years, I’ve recently started to watch it again, with the difference now being my awareness of the satire.
I should note, for those who don’t know, that the newer seasons of “South Park” are very critical of the PC culture that surrounds so many people of our generation. Also important to note is my personal college experience as an English major, a major in which practically everyone is liberal, at a fairly liberal college. You can see thus how intriguing satire about political correctness and social justice warriors would be for someone like me who was surrounded by such things throughout college.
Based on what I just said, one would think that these newer episodes of “South Park” would go against my values/political beliefs and cease to give me the enjoyment I found in the show as a kid. This is partially true, for I often don’t agree with their sentiments or the message of the satire; however, this didn’t detract from the humor of the show, in fact, I found myself laughing harder than ever at scenes that figuratively take a shit all over PC culture and other socially liberal sentiments.
Going back to my first paragraph, it’s obvious that there is an apparent contradiction with me liking “South Park”, for a self-proclaimed liberal shouldn’t enjoy scathing and relentless satire about being a liberal. But this appears to be the case, unless, of course, it turns out I’m not as socially progressive as I think I am, which in all reality is probably the truth.
This idea of progressive people not being progressive is not a new idea, and it as been noted that people betray their liberal sentiments in the form of microaggressions. You can Google microaggressions if need be, but in short, they are minor yet not insignificant daily thoughts or actions that exhibit contempt for a marginalized group of people. I state this to show that people can be consciously liberal while subconsciously going against their supposed beliefs.
With this definition in mind I think one can reasonably ask if watching shows like “South Park” makes you a shitty person. Although the question is reasonable, I don’t believe laughing at irreverent shows makes you a bad person, or more specifically in my case, I don’t think laughing at “South Park” makes me less progressive in my ideals.
Shows that often mock people or things are, if not satire, satirical in nature. One of the first rules of satire is you can’t be merciful. To get a point across in an effective manner you must be relentless and not let the feelings of others get in your way, the second you do account for how others might react you’ve defeated the purpose of satire, which is to inform people about things they don’t want to hear.
Therefore, the creators of “South Park” are always honest in what they say, which is more than what politically correct people can say. It’s also true that because of this truthfulness that we are getting an unaltered opinion (for satires are also perspectives) of how two middle-aged white men perceive today’s society. And while people can say that there are already too many perspectives of white people in the media, I can say without a doubt that “South Park” offers a perspective that many liberal people choose to ignore.
I’m confident in saying “South Park” has a worthwhile perspective because unlike many shows or media (cough, cough FOX) that rip on liberals, it’s evident that the creators of “South Park” do have some understanding of why people are liberal. I’m not saying that everything said about liberals is correct in the show, but the creators are anything but ignorant, and their opinions don’t stem from ignorance but from knowledge and experience.
This is why liberals should watch stuff like “South Park”, because it shows us that people don’t always have different views because they lack knowledge, but because they are different people. So many times I’ve heard liberals describe people who don’t agree with them as ‘idiots’, but there is no way you can call the creators of “South Park” idiotic, for it’s clear they demonstrate a fair amount of social perspicacity.
And this is also why I have found so much enjoyment in the show as of late, because it challenges my liberal perceptions and allows me to see how ridiculous some aspects of our generation really are. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe the creators of “South Park” are huge assholes, but I can say there is merit and something to be learned from these assholes.