South Park: Teaching Libertarianism since 1997
This column, originally printed in the Seguin Gazette on September 9, 2016, remains as one of my personal favorites as I discuss one of my favorite television shows of all time.
Ever since its premiere on August 13, 1997, South Park has been one of the most successful animated television series aimed for adults. I first watched the show when I was 12, and I instantly loved it due to its raunchy humor. Of course, as an adult, I don’t just love it for the humor, I also love the show due to the fact that the creators of the show, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, pulls no punches when it comes to making fun of any person, group, or topic either it involves religion or politics. However, unlike other adult oriented shows like Family Guy or The Simpsons, the jokes that South Park make, offensive or not, are justifiable with the messages that the show presents in every episode. When you take a closer look at these messages, many can see that the show has strong libertarian leanings.
ReasonTV, a YouTube channel run by Reason Magazine, put South Park in their “The 5 Best Libertarian TV Show Ever” video along with other shows like Showtime’s Penn & Teller: Bulls*** and Netflix’s House of Cards. As a Libertarian myself, I highly recommend the show to any fellow adult who wants to learn more about libertarianism, but I do get comments like, “Why would I want to watch a show that is offensive and contains so much raunchy humor?” The best answer I can give is that the show presents to the audience examples of what is currently going on in the world, especially since each current episode is made within six days. For this sake, I’ll use Season 19, as an example. For those who didn’t watch this famous season, it tackled topics like political correctness, safe spaces, social justice, and gentrification while making fun of celebrities and public figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Donald Trump in certain parts of the show. Season 19 began with the introduction of a new character, P.C. Principal, in the season premiere episode, “Stunning and Brave.” P.C. Principal, a very progressive social justice warrior, replaces recurring supporting character, Principal Victoria, as the principal of South Park Elementary. He informs the town that change needs to happen while referencing past moments of the show, like the death of Chef (played by the late Isaac Hayes, who left the show after the Scientology episode, “Trapped in the Closet,” aired during the 9th season). As the season progresses, the town of South Park goes through gentrification after Mr. Garrison (who killed a Donald Trump-like president of Canada due to illegal Canadian immigrants moving to South Park in the season’s second episode) runs for President with Caitlyn Jenner as his running mate.
To give the town a better image, Randy Marsh, who has pledged to be politically correct, decides to make the area around the poverty stricken McCormick family into a cultural district, so the town can get a Whole Foods. The citizens in the new gentrified South Park begin show a more selfish nature, even though they act as if they are caring about others, by becoming reviewers on Yelp as well as believing that two of the younger characters, Tweak and Craig, are gay after several of the female Asian students started drawing yaoi (Japanese for “Boys’ Love”) art of them. Soon, Jimmy, the handicapped character on the show starts standing up against P.C. Principal by printing articles in the school newspaper by calling his politically correct standards and rules “retarded,” and soon, it is revealed that something else is using political correctness for their own gain.
So, what will the upcoming season of the show bring us later this year? South Park remains as one of the only television shows that is not afraid of being offensive and truthful when it comes to today’s heated topics, and it still retains its strong fan base, either they be libertarian or not, while teaching the ways of libertarianism to its audience worldwide.