South Park has allegedly come a long way since its debut episode “Cartman Gets An Anal Probe”, aired in August 1997 to an audience of just under a million viewers. It was unilaterally banned from my household as soon as it appeared on my parents’ cultural radar, around the time of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, a film in which the creators anticipated the hostile parental reaction to their own film by including it as the major plot device. To my teenage self this was cleverness on a Joycian scale.
The rest is history. A few wobbly episodes aside, South Park has been among the most consistently top-class shows on television, and the best satirical show bar none, and it’s never stopped employing the most gross, infantile humour to make bold statements about the world. There’s a freedom to talk openly and with complication about anything in the show that is nothing short of inspirational. And then they smear on a rich layer of viscous fart humour and then I don’t know what to think.
So this Sunday in the States there is a documentary, Six Days to Air, about the making of the show, how it goes from just things a few people are saying to each other in a room to make each other laugh into a slick and provocative finished product using nothing but 120 working hours and what looks like a pretty bright and airy office.
I imagine most of what the documentary will ‘reveal’ is what we could imagine anyway, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone are such rare commodities – talented artists who have enjoyed huge success based solely on the quality of the work – they are worth listening to. Also worth listening to are a few of their greatest hits:
Baseketball: It all seems so long ago now, but even this has its moments. For instance, this. Or something. Whatever. The next video is way better.
Team America: Simultaneously the dumbest and most engaged dissection of American foreign policy ever couched in terms of the human anatomy. Moving on.
The Book of Mormon: Parker and Stone finally made the musical they’ve been jonesing for since they made their first production, Cannibal! The Musical back in 1993. It’s at once an excoriation of the stranger bedrocks of the Mormon faith and a celebration of one young man’s determination to improve the world. In less confident hands it could have been far less generous and a less interesting piece for it. But Parker and Stone’s productions have always been about seeing at least two sides of the argument.
South Park is signed on for at least another two series. And that makes me very happy.
Got a favourite South Park moment? Let us know in the comments!