South Park Vs Family Guy

Dishy challenged South Park fans to try and explain what we found funny about South Park, so here it is. Please excuse the usual spelling and grammatical errors.

Also, please note the plan is to turn all the South Park/Family Guy stuff into one big thread, which Josh is going to do…… Any time now……..[Which you can find here:- Josh]

WHY I LIKE SOUTH PARK

[Check it out after the jump:- Josh]

Here is why I like South Park. South Park does two things particularly well ? parody and satire. The parody is very funny, whether they are parodying specifics television or movies (like last week’s excellent 24 ep, or the recent go over for Super Nanny and Nanny 911) or parodying more general clich?s. The attacking of innumerable film and TV clich?s has created many of my all time favourite episodes such as the ep when Stan is challenged to a ski race which he must win to save the youth center, get the girl and free some Indian spirits despite having only started learning to ski a few days prior or the episode where they have put together a dance crew after getting challenged to a dance off. Or the early episode parodying clip show episodes, retelling several South Park stories with slight differences, all ending in getting ice cream. Or the one where everyone bar Butters ignored Cartman, who then assumed he was dead and kept trying to do one last good deed to ascend into heaven.

Almost every episode is a clever parody of some film or television clich?s. It is witty and it’s funny.

They also attack clich?s from day to day life with great results, like the time the boys discovered their parents had deliberately given them chicken pox, so the deliberately give their parents herpes. Or the flip of team sports ? where the whole team wants to lose rather than win so they can stop playing baseball and get on with their summer.

South Park is very clever at bending your expectations. This alone (the unexpected) can be hugely funny, like what happens to Ike’s peewee ice hockey team in the big game, or Cartman grinding his enemy’s parents up and feeding them to him in chilli.

SP also does great satire. Great satire should make you think about issues. It should make you question. South Park satire isn’t usually terribly subtle, but is often very funny and true. Like the take on obsession with cosmetic surgery to make people ‘look on the outside like they feel on the inside’ resulting in Kyle getting a Negro-plasty and his dad getting a dolphin-plasty. Or the run of bi-curious suicides reacting against being changed by over zealous Christians. Or the satire of teacher student relationships with 4-year-old Ike having an affair with his kindergarten teacher. It’s all funny and does make you question the society we live in.

When they cover current events it’s even better, like the beaver dam/New Orleans episode or the genius take on the 2000 presidential elections reworked as Ike’s kindergarten elections. This is stinging satire and their lightning turn around from concept to episode means they are usually incredibly relevant and up to date.

The way the characters have been developed is very clever too. Obviously they are not realistic 10 year olds, but I love the mix of world-weariness and naivety Stan and Kyle have. It is continually funny. Something else I enjoy is something South Park has inherited from the Simpsons and that is that all are on an even playing field in SP. Rich, poor, black, white, democrat, republican ? everybody in the South Park universe is stupid. And everybody is as stupid as each other. Certainly the adults are.

And you know what else I love about South Park? Butters. Butters rocks. Whether he or his alter ego Professor Chaos, an episode with Butters in it is usually a good one. He is just so buoyant and innocent and likable (“Lou, lou, lou ? I’ve got some apples”). Love Butters.

Hmmm, for some reason I feel like watching some South Park!!

As for why I don’t like Family Guy, well that’s a whole nother story…

7 Comments

  1. See how hard it is to explain humour? Many of the same things could be said about Family Guy – it does great parodies of TV shows, too. It has quirky characters and political satire. Anyway, the thrust of my comments have moved way beyond Family Guy versus South Park.

    Forget about Family Guy for now. Do you have no criticisms of South Park? Do you not see its negative traits? Do you not see where it goes beyond satire into political propaganda?

    Something else I enjoy is something South Park has inherited from the Simpsons and that is that all are on an even playing field in SP. Rich, poor, black, white, democrat, republican – everybody in the South Park universe is stupid. And everybody is as stupid as each other. Certainly the adults are.

    Matt and Trey and South Park fans love to say this, but it just is not true. That’s just their excuse. One thing you will never see on South Park, is an attack on Libertarians.

    Kyle and Stan, representing Matt and Trey – are always above the fray. The egotism is fairly startling when you look at it. “Everybody is stupid except us.” Kyle and Stan are always portrayed in the end of being the only ones with common sense.

    You’ll also notice that not everbody gets attacked equally. Republicans get off easy, as do hetrosexuals. Liberals, women and gays get totally disproportionately attacked.

    For example, you say that you liked the 24 parody in the “snuke” episode. That was well done. But it seems to have succeeded in distracting you from the obvious misogyny and political motives of that episode.

    I think that’s one of the most worrying aspects of South Park. They use the sugar of funny antics to help you swallow the bitter poison of the message they want you to take seriously. It helps deflect criticism.

    When they cover current events it’s even better, like the beaver dam/New Orleans episode or the genius take on the 2000 presidential elections reworked as Ike’s kindergarten election

    The election episode is an example of political satire that really works, because it does have a lot of truth in it, and is fairly even-handed.

    The New Orleans episode, not so much. That was totally weak. It really demonstrates Matt and Trey’s ignorance of the world outside their own, and their lack of courage as satirists. It was not very clever. I mean, what happened at Katrina was totally fucked up. They had the choice of hundreds of issues and targets they could have viciously skewered. Yet instead they choose to go with a lame “hey, shit happens, and you shouldn’t blame anybody.”

    Fuck that. New Orleans brought to the surface some of the worst prejudices of American society, and all they do is talk about blaming Bush and global warming? What the hell?

    Unfortunately, many people (particularly in Australia) aren’t really aware of what went on in New Orleans – as our media stopped covering it quickly, before the truth came out. And South Park is only going to cement this lack of awareness in people’s minds as a “shit happens, let’s move on” event.

    There really is an amazing synergy between South Park lately, and the talking points that Republicans and Libertarians want to get heard. I think a lot of their “current events” stuff lately is to distract attention from the real shit that’s going on in American politics. The Al Gore episode was pretty obviously designed as a way to take the focus off the Bush administration and further the liberal ridicule. And then again with Hillary Clinton.

    Ross, are you able to acknowledge that Matt and Trey have a political agenda? Are you able to acknowledge that the show is not all in jest?

    And you know what else I love about South Park? Butters. Butters rocks. Whether

    Yeah, Butters is totally awesome.

  2. Rob Boxcutter says:

    I’m really enjoying following this thread. Keep it up, people.

    It has got me thinking about the shifting ground of interpretation and meaning we take from any piece of “art”, be it TV, film, performance, song, book, etc. Particularly about what happens as we learn the real-life situations, ethnicities and politics of the creators behind the works.

    When South Park does “it’s thing” on say hippies, is it parodying the hippy phenomenon, parodying the anti-hippy attitude or in fact championing the anti-hippy stance? And is this something that can be answered purely by viewing the show or does it depend on your own background or upon knowing something about Parker & Stone’s actual position? Of course, it’s possible for the show’s intent to be markedly different from how a majority of viewers receive and interpret it.

    It’s a murky area I think, because when it comes to interpretation there are aren’t really many absolute, definitive truths.

    I think of Borat and Ali G. Many would say Sacha Baron Cohen doing the anti-semitic Borat is still in fact anti-semitic because it encourages this sentiment in some viewers who don’t get that they’re own attitudes are being exposed. And I’m sure it would be different if Baron Cohen weren’t Jewish. Or would it? He’s not black, yet I imagine opinions on whether the Ali G phenomenon is racist are just as divided, among black and white. Perhaps the totality of verdicts would be the same, only the the types of people holding them would be reversed.

    It’s all nourishing food for thought and it’s never a bad thing to step back away from the box and watch ourselves watching it.

  3. Yep. I completely agree with that Rob.

    And Dishy – it’s good to see we agree on at least two things. Humour is very difficult to describe or explain and Butters rocks.

    Of course I have criticism of South Park (I was just describing what I liked about it), but no I haven’t up to now seen it as political propaganda. And I should admit I know absolutely nothing about Libertarians (except that Ayn Rand was one I think and the only mention of her in SP was a completely caning for The Fountainhead, so bad Officer Barbrady swore never to read again after he read that…). You do raise many interesting and thought provoking points, for example they do seem to attack left wing targets more, which I hadn’t noticed. I think what you are saying has a lot of merit even if I am not completely sold as yet.

    Where I think we really disagree is the reading of the episodes. You say there was an obvious political motive in the 24 ep – what was that? That the Americans have a long list of enemies? That if the world was like 24 the British would be next on the list to attack? The over-riding ‘lesson’ I saw from the episode was that you can trust Muslims. And that fear and politics and racist idiots like Cartman have made America a near intolerable place to live if you are Muslim.

    And I didn’t get the ‘hey, shit happens and you shouldn’t blame anybody’ message from the New Orleans episode. Everybody else was too self obsessed and too self involved to stop and actually help the people of Beavertown. It was a damning of everyone who just sat around watching but doing nothing to help and not demanding better from their leaders. People were trapped on their rooftops but as usual the people of South Park were too busy panicking to help.

    With Mel Gibson, it’s a funny portrayal. And it would seem quite accurate, just like with the ‘Fight Round The World’ Russell Crowe episode. But that’s what parody is surely. We’re going to make fun of this image of this person. Or this religion. I think Matt and Trey are saying ‘Wow, Russell fights a lot. Lets make fun of that’ or ‘Wow, Scientologist believe some kooky shit, lets use that’. I don’t believe they are saying (very serious voice) ‘Right – we have got to let the world know what a dangerous person Mel Gibson is. Let’s tell everybody via comedy’.

    They are not randomly chosen for a laugh but they are not deliberately chosen and targeted (I know you will think this naive and think I’m not watching close enough).

    And returning to our old friend Al Gore. He is one of the most recognisable politicians in America. 8 years as Vice President, very often in the spotlight since. People know that he’s well spoken. Again, parody. I didn’t find the ‘I’m serial’ line at all funny, but I never found ‘Respect my authorita’ funny either. Without over analysing too much, it was the whole thing with Gore in that episode that was amusing. His constant delusion, his willingness to believe anything was a sign of Manbearpig, his smile when the tour guide mentioned he was on the tour, dressing up as MBP, his put down of the rescuer for thinking his drawing was a ‘some kind of pig-bear man’, his self satisfaction with thinking he’d rid the world of Manbearpig etc, etc.

    It was funny. And it was funnier than yet another parody of Bush would have been. I mean seriously do we really need any more jokes about how dumb GW is? The fact there is a semi literate American President – surely the joke is on us. The world has had to endure Bush, but all the jokes about his intellect don’t seem to have got us very far. Why not target Gore?

    The right well elements haven’t bothered me up until now, and they are balanced by all the good work South Park does. There is far more left humour out there in the world anyway. South Park makes people think about racism, homophobia, religion, right and wrong, good and evil and that is great. I would much prefer a show make people think, rather than a show that is merely a series of random and not especially funny jokes (I knew I could get this back to Family Guy).

    And even if it is a vast right wing plot, and even if I just don’t get it and a whole bunch of young impressionable South Park fans are being brainwashed, it’s not harming my enjoyment of the show. Ultimately the bottom line is I can’t watch South Park for anybody else, and watching just for me, as me, I find it funny. And no doubt will continue to find it funny.

    And now I have to stop thinking about South Park or there’ll be no show this week!!!

  4. Also, how funny was this weeks ep? St Peter was a rabbit, hehehe!!

    Or did I miss something?

  5. I’m not sure where to leave comments/replies, now with three threads going on South Park. I’ll leave the rest for the new topic, but address a couple here:

    Rob:

    When South Park does “it’s thing” on say hippies, is it parodying the hippy phenomenon, parodying the anti-hippy attitude or in fact championing the anti-hippy stance?

    This is a murky area, but I believe that the key element is Cartman. When Cartman champions something, you can be pretty sure it’s in jest. However, when Kyle/Stan (a.k.a Trey/Parker) champion something, I think it’s more of a “straight” message.

    (except that Ayn Rand was one I think and the only mention of her in SP was a completely caning for The Fountainhead, so bad Officer Barbrady swore never to read again after he read that…).

    Well spotted! I had forgotten about that. However, Ayn Rand was not a Libertarian. She was an objectivist, although many Libertarians gain inspiration from Rand’s works. In fact, she attacked Libertarianism:

    Rand said of libertarians that “They are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers… most of them are my enemies… I’ve read nothing by a Libertarian (when I read them, in the early years) that wasn’t my ideas badly mishandled—i.e., had the teeth pulled out of them—with no credit given.”

    I think it’s more likely that Barbrady’s digust for Ayn Rand stems from either:

    1. That Ayn Rand’s writing is extremely tedious.

    or

    2. That Ayn Rand attacked Libertarians.

    Where I think we really disagree is the reading of the episodes. You say there was an obvious political motive in the 24 ep – what was that?

    This is to be dealt with in Part 3: Misogyny in South Park. I had intended to write this chapter much earlier, but kept getting distracted by other issues.

    Apart from the attack on Hilary for political reasons, it is another example of the skewed protrayal of women on South Park, compared to men.

    And I didn’t get the ‘hey, shit happens and you shouldn’t blame anybody’ message from the New Orleans episode. Everybody else was too self obsessed and too self involved to stop and actually help the people of Beavertown. It was a damning of everyone who just sat around watching but doing nothing to help and not demanding better from their leaders. People were trapped on their rooftops but as usual the people of South Park were too busy panicking to help.

    Except that really distracts from what really happened. For example, the New Orleans Police actively opposed helping people, and instead created hysteria about black gangs and violence that never really happened. And the media happily perpetuated their racist notions.

    To this day, many people still believe in the mass rapes, shootings and lawlessness that were initially reported by the media. Even though there’s no real evidence of it happening.

    Like many South Park episodes, I believe this is one of the ones where it actually gets people to think less about the issue than more about it.

    Ross, you say that one of the strengths of South Park is that it gets viewers to think more. I firmly believe the opposite – most episodes are designed to encourage not thinking about an issue deeply, and instead being apathetic about it.

    For example, what was it about New Orleans that you thought more deeply about because of South Park? What was it about Global Warming that you thought more deeply about after the Manbearpig episode?

    It was funny. And it was funnier than yet another parody of Bush would have been. I mean seriously do we really need any more jokes about how dumb GW is? The fact there is a semi literate American President – surely the joke is on us

    Again, we come to another problem. Rather than really attacking the administration, South Park merely focuses on George Bush being kind of slow and illiterate. And the attacks are usually very light-hearted compared to the attacks on liberals and Democrats. Bush is portrayed as kind of dumb, but liberals are portrayed as a source of evil.

    The world has had to endure Bush, but all the jokes about his intellect don’t seem to have got us very far. Why not target Gore?

    You are seeing this from a very Australian perspective. America, on the other hand, is awash with more jokes about Gore, Hilary and Bill, and Democrats in general than there are jokes about Bush. We just don’t see that down here.

    I admit, I do follow American politics very closely. Probably more closely than I do Australian politics.

    Why do you think they spent time attacking Gore, who was already “washed up” and no longer an influence in US politics, when there were many more pressing issues to be addressed?

    There is far more left humour out there in the world anyway.

    Again, maybe to an Australian, especially one who uses the internet a lot and visits more liberal sites. But in America this isn’t true – right-wing comedy is very popular there, probably more common than the left-leaning variety.

    They’ve set up a myth of the “liberal media” – even though people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have a lot more media presence than any “liberal” shows.

    This is all a part of an acknowledged “culture war” by the right to entench control of media. Again, something Australians aren’t particularly aware of – with the exception of the current culture war against our ABC. Which pitifully few Australians are even aware of.

    I just read a very interesting article in the age about this, which I immediately felt resonated with South Park and the US version of the war. When I get some time at work, I’ll OCR the article, so I can post the text.

  6. P.S:

    Also, how funny was this weeks ep? St Peter was a rabbit, hehehe!!

    Or did I miss something?

    It was pretty funny. I think the only thing you overlooked was that Bill Donohue attacked South Park, therefore he was attacked on South Park.

    Although, in this case, I think he deserved to be attacked for other reasons. But I think that if he hadn’t been critical of South Park, they would have chosen someone else.

  7. catbrain says:

    I think SP eps sometimes have one joke that goes on too long. This week’s ep ‘Smug Alert’ is a good case in point – after about 6 minutes it seemed repetitive.

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