So, here goes: I am a South Park fan. The spiritual child of Matt Stone & Trey Parker, (almost) always manages to crack me up; at least when the toilet humour is kept to a minimum. I find myself disagreeing with some of the messages its creators try to shove in our heads however.
Most people believe that the creators of the series (and in effect, South Park itself) are leftists/liberals. Guess again! Matt Stone is a registered republican and Trey Parker a Libertarian. But does it matter? Is the whole message wrong?
Let’s have a look at some episodes aired on the past, shall we? Note, I am not going to write a synopsis of the episodes I’m going to list; you can go to the excellent http://www.southparkstudios.com and watch every South Park episode that has aired to date.
Episode 9 of Season 5
Dealing with the anthrax phobia, the ridiculous security measures and the Afghanistan war, this episode has a lot of premise since these issues were quite sensitve at the time.
I found myself agreeing with the messages regarding the anthrax phobia (gas masks, checkpoints, confiscation of plastic scissors for being weapons – it’s all there). After all, excessive paranoia only leads to panic and a total loss of control. The most important message of the whole episode though was the presentation of the afghan kids (watch the episode if you haven’t), which look like arab doppelgangers of the four main characters. Really, those people over the Middle East and pretty much around the world are pretty much Average Joes like us. This is only intensified when showing receiving a few bucks as a gift from students in the USA as aid while at the same time the have their homes destroyed.
All these are positive messages and I’m fine with them. The final scene (the “I’ve learnt something today” part) though ruins it for me. Here’s a quick description of what happens:
Stan finds a dropped USA flag on the ground and uses his coat to help it stand vertically again. Kyle comments in surprise that “I though the afghan kids talked you into not liking America”. Stan replies with “America may have some problems, but it’s our home, our team. And if you don’t want to root for our team, you should get the hell out of our stadium”, followed by a military style salute.
Confusing America’s “some problems” with the horrible decision of the Afghan (and later the Iraqi) war is misleading. USA has much more than “some problems”, most of them being domestic ones which also came into being when G.W Bush came into power (what a surprise). Being hated by pretty much everyone for following a pathetically planned imperialistic foreign policy should not come to anyone’s suprise.
Also, your country is just a place you happened to be born into. It wasn’t your choice, like choosing a football team is. You are not forced to support your country’s wrongdoings to be called a patriot nor you deserve to feel proud for things you have no control of. The fact that a bunch of people (government and/or companies) decide and act stupidly should not discourage you from criticising said stupid and dangerous decisions publicly. This is actually more patriotic, and this is the reason most republican and corporatist libertarian retards are far from patriots.
Episode 3 of Season 5
This episode mostly deals with the Boy Scouts of America organization with a (stupid) part about Jimmy and Timmy getting into a fight. The main plot is that Big Gay Al is fired from the position of Scoutmaster because he’s been found out to be a gay (no s#&* Sherlock). The main characters and a few other people stand by him and are now trying to persuade other people to support equality in the Boy scouts. When the matters go to court, Al and his supporters win.
Here comes the kicker though: Big Gay Al rests the case, stating that “since Boy Scouts is a private organization, they have the right to have their own rules and ban gays if they like”. He then adds that he wishes they change their minds but not by being forced to.
This is a typical libertarian position actually. But it’s wrong. Being a private organization does not relieve you from all the ethics requirements. You may find that the phrase “ethics requirements” is too heavy and dangerous, but I’ll gradly have that over slavery, pure capitalism (read about it on wikipedia before you flame me), no worker rights etc.
Let’s consider the following: would it be acceptable if a privately held company fired their women employees when they became pregnant? Would it be OK if they refused black people from becoming employees? Most people would actually be persuaded depending on how convincing the excuses would be.
South Park is thought provoking and made by smart people. But you should be aware of both the direct and indirect messages it tries to pass.