The Brief: South Park is an adult cartoon comedy series created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
South Park has aired on Comedy Central since 1998. It has elements of satire and parody. South Park can get political, usually through allegory and exaggerated comedy. The characters are the young children and their parents who live in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado. The South Park franchise includes a full-length film and multiple video games.
Many find the show to be excessively offensive and crude. South Park does not shy away from potty humor, cursing, harsh celebrity impersonations, or non-PC content. It seems that nothing is off-limits to its creators. For example, episodes in the most recent season joke heavily about school shootings, pedophilia, and a talking piece of human feces.
Although South Park‘s portrayals of racism, antisemitism, bullying, blasphemy, violence, sexism, homophobia are largely satirical, they have the potential to normalize these things, especially for young viewers. It is important to discuss how this show is intentionally inflammatory and how the language and behaviors of its characters (most often) should not be emulated.
A disclaimer appears on the screen before each show, explaining that all characters are fictitious and that “all celebrity voices are impersonated…poorly.” It then semi-jokingly warns that “the following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone.”
On a similar note, for the most recent season, there is a marketing campaign around the hashtag #cancelsouthpark, playing on the show’s controversy in order to promote it.