South Park’s Creators Now & Forever Free
There’s no risk of anyone forgetting South Park’s place in television and pop culture now. The award-winning show’s success has given Parker and Stone the freedom to embrace their chaotic creativity and write about whatever they choose, no matter how sensitive the subject. Basing their wildly popular show around crudely animated characters gives them extra wiggle room to tackle taboo topics.
“We have very few problems with Comedy Central,” Stone said. “They love us because we’re making them a lot of money. And we’re rich enough now that we have no one to be afraid of out there.”
Three year’s ago Tom Cruise reportedly got Viacom to force Comedy Central to cancel a rebroacast of a controversial episode about Scientology by threatening that he’d refuse to promote “Mission Impossible 3″ on any of the company’s properties. I argued then that the South Park guys should kiss-off Viacom. Instead in their very next episode, The Return of Chef, Parker and Stone never used the word Scientology as they poked some obvious fun at it.
Changes in the media landscape since that not-so-faraway time have amply demonstrated the duo could leave Viacom and distribute the show (or an obvious variation — like North Garden) on their own. Just last month they cut a cash deal with the Netflix Watch Instantly service to stream the first nine seasons of South Park. They had already been streaming the 181 episodes on their Web site, serving over 300 million views since going live a year ago.
Significantly, Parker and Stone retained non-television rights to the show as part of their original deal with Comedy Central and they split non-TV revenue 50-50 with the network — a deal likened to the 1951 deal Desi Arnaz cut for “I Love Lucy.” (Apple, on the other hand, stupidly nixed a potentially offensive iPhone app.)
The bottom line? They’ve demonstrated again and again the truth of their money quote above!
The laughter comes from real subversion, from not just crossing red lines but going so far past them you forget the red lines exist. It isn’t just puerile bravado either (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Parker and Stone actually take on powerful entities, people that can actually harm them and their careers. Who else has tackled Islamists, scientologists, and the Disney company? Who else is able to use the word “faggot” and have every gay man laugh along with them? Who skewers the Hollywood left more effectively?
Excellent episode. Should it be titled “In praise of fiat currency?”
Outside of the mouse-on-teen violence, I really liked this clip – especially how it points out that by focusing on purity these companies/singers are actually focusing on sexuality, just in a “safe” way.