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
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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

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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The Top 10 Gay-Themed Commercials That Should Be Celebrated

Gay-themed advertisements are an important part of our representation in pop culture. Here are the ten best gay-themed commercials that deserve celebration.

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Advertisements have a long history of reflecting and influencing popular culture. As someone from one of the boroughs of New York City, I've always been surrounded by advertisements. So it is extremely obvious to me why representation in these advertisements matter. Commercials online and on television are no exception. As a gay man, I'd like to present you with ten commercials that make me feel a sense of pride.

1. Israeli Gays Get Distracted On The Beach

Israel is a safe haven for LGBTQ people living in the Middle East. While places like Saudi Arabia and Iran treat gay men horrifically by enforcing Sharia Law, Israel welcomes them with open arms. That open minded attitude was even more obvious with this commercial from 2006.

2. Pepsi Brings Out The Confidence In One Guy (With A Gay Twist)

This Pepsi ad from the UK has a comedic twist that will delight the viewer with the main character's confidence. I find the women's reaction to him passing by each of them even more humorous than his friend's reactions.

3. Doritos Gay Sauna Contest Entry That Could've Gayed Up The Super Bowl

This commercial was created as a contest entry where aspiring filmmakers could create commercials for Doritos. The winning entry would be aired during the Super Bowl and the filmmaker would win a cash prize. This viral smash didn't make it, however. It seemed unfair, as several straight-themed commercials feature tons of innuendo. Unfortunately, it seems as though gay male sexuality is still threatening to some.

4. Campbell's Soup Portrays The Adorable Gay Household We All Wish We Had

This Campbell's Soup commercial is a short and sweet depiction of two gay dads sharing a sweet moment with their son. If it proves anything, it's that gay households are just like any other.

5. Marriage Equality Gets An Endorsement From Tide

While marriage equality has been a source of debate over the years, the only thing wrong with this union was the attire chosen for it. A brilliant twist ending courtesy of Tide.

6. This Heinz Commercial Is A Gay New Yorker's Dream Come True

As a gay man and a New Yorker, this commercial makes me very happy. Affection between same sex couples hasn't always been something we could see on television. However, this Heinz commercial squashes all that.

7. A Sweet And Unexpected Coming Out At McDonald's

This McDonald's commercial from Taiwan features a twist ending that is heartfelt, not comedic. For anyone who has struggled coming out, this should hit you right in the feels!

8. Sister And Brother Fight Over The Hot Pool Boy... With Coca-Cola

A nice bottle of Coke is quite refreshing. Who knew it was the perfect ice-breaker to approach your crush? This ad features a brother and sister competing for the pool boy's attention. However, it seems like someone else beat them at their own game.

9. This IKEA Commercial Was A Historic Turning Point

This classic IKEA ad from 1994 was groundbreaking for gay representation in advertising. It would be remiss of me not to include this important commercial on the list.

10. What Happens When Your Dad Sets You Up On A Tinder Date?

It's always nice to have your parents acceptance. However, even for gay guys, parents can get a little too close for comfort. This Vote Savvy ad portrays just that. But hey, they mean well, right?

Whether comedic, heartfelt, or provocative, these ten commercials have done wonders for gay male representation in advertising. It also reflects the representation of gay men around the world. From Israel to Taiwan to the UK, these commercials reflect the growing acceptance around the gay community. As far as I'm concerned, that's something to be celebrated.

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