Saturday, March 9, 2013

South Park Conservatives: Is South Park Liberal?

Even though South Park has gone so far as to brutally ridicule those who think that anything can be tolerated in classrooms in the name of political correctness, even to ridicule transsexual surgery, it was premature of pundits 10 years ago to think that the pop culture tide had permanently turned against political correctness and against liberalism.  Still, the citing of "South Park Republicans" by pseudo-conservative Andrew Sullivan is a noteworthy event of the '00s.

In a more recent January interview with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the evidence Hadley Freeman offers for it being "safe to assume that they veer more towards the left in their attitudes" is that Parker and Stone wryly have Satan in their show talk about being in league with the Republicans (or finding them useful for his purposes anyway).  It's hard for me to tell from that who they are really laughing at. I'd probably write something like that just for a laugh.  Parker and Stone have admitted to hating conservatives almost as much as they hate liberals, but it may be less than obvious whether that statement  may be taken at face value.

The real kicker in this interview is what they call the big lie of their whole career:
"The big lie of our whole career is that rightwing fundamentalists are always trying to shut us down," Stone says. "It has literally never happened. The Mormons haven't, the Christians haven't – OK, the Scientologists did, but they don't count. But when we make fun of liberal people, they're like 'What?!' I think religious conservatives are more used to taking a beating."
Liberals aren't the only group that is not used to being skewered on tv/film:
They've also been attacked by every religious group possible, but never asked to back off before, even when they stabbed Jesus in the neck and made all Catholic priests pedophiles. They said despite all that the most vocal group about religion has been atheists. "We got calls from atheists friends a couple times saying, 'What the f***, we thought you were on our side?' and we say, 'We're not on anybody's f***ing side and we're not atheists.'"*
Well, Matt Stone has elsewhere described himself as an atheist (who thinks Richard Dawkins is a jerk), so maybe Parker is agnostic; or they simply do not want to be labeled as atheist spokesmen.  But that is just one of many gems from that Huffington Post interview. They continue:
When I asked them which group they've pissed off the most over the years, they both said "liberals." "Liberal people got mad at us for 'Team America' -- that's the most I've felt it.
And this one:
"Ripping on Republicans is not that fun for us only because everyone else does it," Matt explained. "It's so much more fun for us to rip on liberals only because nobody else does it, and not because we think liberals are worse than Republicans but, just because..."
"... it's like fresh snow. I mean how're you gonna rip on Sarah Palin in a new way?" Trey pointed out.
Yeah, I mean, who didn't take a shot at Palin?  Where was South Park when we had Jocelyn Elders embarrassing the Clintons at every turn?  Maybe in the '90s we could have had a South Park episode where Janet Reno burns down a church with children inside because the people inside won't give up their guns.  (Or maybe now we could have an episode where Obama takes out Fox News with a drone attack because they are the only news outlet that won't love him up--after first declaring a hiatus on habeus corpus and "constructing a legal regime.")

But let's hear that again:  "Ripping on Republicans is not that fun for us only because everyone else does it."  
"There's something uniquely aggravating about the smugness of liberal Hollywood," Matt said. "You have to laugh at Alec Baldwin when he gets political. You have to. He is an amazing actor, he may even be a great guy, but that sh** is funny. Sean Penn getting on TV on CNN and talking about politics, Sean Penn running around Katrina and Haiti that is funny. That's all.
Amen, brothers.  

One Parker-Stone quote that's made the rounds a lot and seems to shed light on their particular neti neti brand of centrism:
"What we're sick of — and it's getting even worse — is you either like Michael Moore or you wanna f***ing go overseas and shoot Iraqis... We find just as many things to rip on the left as we do on the right. People on the far left and the far right are the same exact person to us."
It's unclear to me whether they would see extremism as a matter of attitude or a matter of position.  Of course, the mere avoidance of "extremes" is not a recipe for reason, just a version of the "argument to moderation" fallacy.   As Parker and Stone have often pointed out for good ridiculing sport, what do celebrities know about politics?

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