When "South Park" Tried to Defend Your 1st Amendment Rights

When "South Park" Tried to Defend Your 1st Amendment Rights

The show is more than just jokes and insults
80
views

You may have seen this before...

It's shown before every episode of South Park and is openly admitting to the poor depiction of real people and events that the show portrays. But for some, this warning is just not enough.

South Park is known for its crude humor, graphic jokes, and holding nothing back when it comes to mocking celebrities, events, and pretty much anything that exists. While some people see that and instantly write South Park off as a mindless show with no redeemable factors except for the crass comedy, they are sorely mistaken.

The creators behind South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, are far smarter than anyone gives them credit. It shows through their work, whether it's South Park or their award-winning Broadway musical, "Book of Mormon" (which I would definitely check out if you get the chance). While they do make harsh jokes, and often have coarse language and obscene images in their work, ultimately they have a underlying message that comes full circle by the end of the episode.

A lot of South Park episodes tend to expose just how dumb and moronic some issues, people, and events are. You'd be surprised how 5 kids in small town South Park, Colorado can break down and explain a controversial issue through their mischievous adventures and antics.

A perfect example of this is the 2-part episode "Cartoon Wars" that aired in April of 2006. The premise of the episode was that Family Guy (another real show similar to South Park, but not as good) was going to depict the Muslim prophet Mohammed on TV in an episode. Everyone in South Park and the entire country erupts in terror, fearing that when Mohammed is shown on TV, that terrorists will retaliate and attack America, so everyone wants FOX to censor out the prophet from the program.

For some context, this episode was made in response to the Muslim riots and protests in 2005 after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten posted cartoons of Mohammed in their newspaper. You might remember a similar event happening in France in 2015, when the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo also published cartoons of Mohammed, leading to terrorists attacking their building.

Though this isn't true amongst all who follow the Islam religion, there are some who strictly prohibit any depictions of Mohammed. It's been a contentious issue both internally and externally for the religion. Just because some say it's prohibited, does that mean that the entire world has to obey? South Park tackles this head on.

Back in the world of South Park, most of the United States population has literally buried their head in mounds of sand. Their thinking is, "if we don't see or hear Mohammed on Family Guy, the terrorists can't be mad at us." Obviously some flawed logic there, but Eric and Kyle leave for Los Angeles in hopes to persuade the FOX executives to pull the episode before it airs across America in order to prevent any attacks.

However, half way on their journey Eric reveals he doesn't care about the possibility of danger, he only wants Family Guy pulled because he hates the show. He says that if they can pull the episode because Islamics are offended, then it will open the door for other religions, ethnicities, and minorities to have Family Guy pulled off air because they are offended.

Kyle realizes the slippery slope this could cause and sets out to stop Eric. By the end of the episode, after fighting Bart from the Simpsons and discovering the writers of Family Guy are actually manatees, ultimately Kyle manages to convince the FOX executives to air the episode and keep the depiction of Muhammad in it. Here's when things get messed up.

The episode ends with the fictional scene of Family Guy that everyone has been scared about. We are expecting Mohammed to finally be shown, but when he is about to enter the screen we get this instead...

It turns out that Comedy Central (the channel that exclusively airs South Park) would not allow the show to depict Mohammed, thus turning the entire episode into a giant parody of itself. For the first time, South Park wasn't allowed to create what they wanted, because Comedy Central drew the line.

Comedy Central, and it's owner Viacom, had given into the fear that was lampooned and mocked throughout the entirety of the two-part episode. At one point in the episode, there is a press conference with George W. Bush (who was president at the time), and the press asks him, "Why are you allowing FOX to air this episode?" In response he says, "Because of this thing called the First Amendment."

It's incredibly ironic that Comedy Central would end up becoming no different then the mindless citizens of South Park, burying their heads in the sand in the wake of fear, instead of standing up and fighting for freedom of speech, a pillar of American liberty.

Stone and Parker were not happy with the decision, calling Doug Herzog (the executive of Comedy Central), a "coward." Herzog admitted he knew they would be angry, but that he made the right decision at the end of the day.

After this fiasco, Comedy Central actually went back and pulled an earlier episode from re-run rotation called "Trapped in the Closet," which is about Tom Cruise locking himself in a closet, and criticizing the religion of Scientology as a big global scam. While the episode was eventually put back on air and on streaming services, it was yet another example of Comedy Central giving way to a vocal minority of "offended" people.

South Park has made fun of almost everything under the sun at this point, and I'm sure that every episode offends at least some one, but if we have to pander to every single person's beliefs and views, we'll never have anything interesting. Nothing will ever be challenged, and worst of all, comedy will become bland and boring.

A more recent example of this happening was on Christmas of 2014, when Sony Pictures pulled all showings of The Interview (a movie about James Franco and Seth Rogan assassinating Kim Jong-Un in North Korea), because they were afraid of possible North Korean retaliation. They did end up releasing the movie online instead, but the pandering to fear and violence only makes these issues and situations worse and more frequent.

We as a society and country need to man up a little bit and not be so offended and throw our hands up in the air and cry about it. If you're offended by South Park, here's a grand idea:

DON'T WATCH IT.

Keep it out of your life, and don't ruin it for the millions upon millions that don't care and just want to enjoy the show.

Since 2006, Stone, Parker, and South Park have gotten even smarter and better about implementing messages into their show while still maintaining the comedy and F-you style their show has always been known for. So next time you try to write off South Park, remember when it tried to stand up for your rights and was actually more smart and rational than you ever gave it credit for.

Cover Image Credit: South Park

Popular Right Now

Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
301036
views

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

627
views

"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Giphy

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

Related Content

Facebook Comments