It started out as simply a short, choppy animation, something that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone put together in order to mock the true meaning of the holiday season: materialism and presents. From there, the stop motion animation of Jesus Christ fighting Santa Claus in front of four, foul-mouthed kids and a piece of talking feces became one of the first viral videos, entitled the “Spirit of Christmas,” and it traveled throughout the Net and in and out of people’s email inboxes. Eventually, it landed in the hands of a Comedy Central executive, who commissioned the duo to turn the short animation into a full-fledged series. Thus, “South Park” was born.
Premiering on cable and satellite TV in 1997, “Cartman gets an anal probe” was the first introduction that the Comedy Central audience had to the newest animated show. Before the premiere, the only hit animated show around was “The Simpsons,” which although had a lot of adult references, was still considered a family oriented cartoon. “South Park,” as viewers quickly learned after witnessing all the cussing, fighting and vomit spewing of the first episode, was anything but a family show.
Taking place in the small town of South Park, Colorado, the show follows the incredible day-to-day adventures of four, foul-mouthed fourth graders: Kyle, Stan, Kenny and Cartman. Granted, the show started out with all of the kids in third grade, but a lot has changed in the 13 years since the original episode premiered, i.e. Kenny does not die at the end of every episode as he did for the first couple of seasons.
Originally the show covered very original and topical issues, such as growing up playing school sports: football and dodge ball are highlighted, or Barbara Streisand trying to take over the world. But in the last years the show has begun to focus more on highly controversial, culturally related dilemmas. For example, one episode directly mocks Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for constantly re-releasing their old films with new, high definition technology. Another goes after the anti-smoking campaigns, trying to show that although smoking is bad, it is an individual’s choice if they want to smoke cigarette or not. One episode pokes fun at reality television by going so far as to claim that Earth, in its entirety, is merely a reality program, broadcasted throughout the universe to all other alien species (of course, this information is relayed by a giant, talking taco that poops ice cream every step it takes.)
And with a new season premiering on March 17 on cable and satellite TV, anything goes with regards to what America’s favorite foul-mouthed fourth graders will do. Whether it is a topical episode or a politically based one, it can be safe to say that all of the F-bombs, all of the blood and all of the shenanigans that is “South Park” will entertain the countless fans that plop themselves down in front of their HD televisions every Wednesday night to catch all of the action. Besides, with a slew of Emmy nominations and a successful movie, one that gained an Oscar nomination for best original song, Trey Parker and Matt Stone must be doing something right.