The Genius of South Park

I don’t make a point of watching South Park as much as I used to. My life is incredibly busy – television low on the list of priorities. All that changed tonight – my son reminded me of a South Park episode – I started watching again. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are pure genius; their political satire and social commentary – flawless.

Parker and Stone met in film class at the University of Colorado in 1992. Their first collaboration was a stop action short using paper cut-outs called The Spirit of Christmas. Brian Graden, a Fox Network executive commissioned them to make a video Christmas card. People who received Graden’s “card” copied and posted it on-line where it soon became one of the first “viral” phenomena. Parker and Stone, buoyed by their internet success started plans for a TV series. Fox wasn’t interested in a program featuring Mr. Hanky or anal probes; ultimately it was the Comedy Network who debuted South Park in 1997.

In South Park nothing is off limits, no subject escapes scrutiny, wicked satire leaves you gasping for breath. Not often do I find myself laughing out load – certain South Park episodes find me dissolving into a puddle of laugh tears. Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Rick Mercer deserve honourable mentions – South Park reigns supreme.

Some Foxy News

I used to tune into Fox News every once and a while when I needed a laugh. As time passed it wasn’t funny any more. Somewhere around Hurricane Katrina I was able to snap out of it. Not certain whether Greta Van Susteren’s holier than thou attitude , Geraldo Rivera’s grandstanding, or Glenn Beck reporting that ” the only Katrina victims shown on television were the scumbags”, were responsible for my decision to never again stoop to that level. All I know is by the time officials remembered thousands of people stranded inside the convention centre – Fox News had made me so angry I wanted to scream.

It’s difficult to pin-point when news media took on an agenda. I come from an era when the six o’clock news covered stories of the day. Reporters investigated, researched, and sought the truth. I’m aware enough to realize it wasn’t all roses, yet  had considerable faith in words printed in the newspaper and reports on television. It would have been unthinkable to tune into a particular station based on political or religious beliefs. The news didn’t work that way – at least it never used to.

Today we listen to what we want to hear, and because it’s “news” take it as the truth. I’ve heard of CNN being referred to as  “communist news network”, and in the same breath a declaration that Obama is a Muslim. The Bill O’Reilly’s and Glenn Becks of this world become superstars – their editorial opinion taken as truth. Today’s news preaches to the choir; a captive audience feeding on the egos of puffed up front-men, all for the sake of the bottom line – advertising dollars.

News stations have become irresponsible, biased, and quite frankly – dangerous. Scratch the surface and find cartoon characters spewing nonsense – they know who’s listening, and what they want to hear. Ponder the realization that their words are taken as gospel. Fox News being the worst of the bunch, as this clip from the Daily Show aptly points out.

Might I suggest to anybody feeling the urge to repeat “news” taken from Fox….