Why is South Park trending? What did I miss?

Oct 26, 2017
2,150
I think these follow-up tweets should be equally noted:
To be clear, this is isn't to absolve Matt & Trey either. I think often times when certain pieces of media get criticized for their cultural impact people get the impression that those pieces are sole party of blame when in reality the audience that became impacted shares the responsibility of not being able to properly parse the show, as well.
This is a good point too. Just today I had encountered someone on youtube who attacked Patrick Stewart for wanting his new Picard show to handle the problems of today (Trump, nationalism, etc) which he thought of as left-wing virtue signalling (and stewart himself being perceived negatively as a socialist). Of course Star Trek is built upon idealistic socialist concepts such as a future socialist utopia in which diversity is cherished and the majority want for nothing in a post-money civilisation. Everything he saw as a recent trend.

These people see what they want to see and refuse to process anything that doesn't align with their narrative. Perhaps the same could be said of the people attacking South Park for the negativity inherent within it.
 
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A.By

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,648
Yeah. South Park explains Donald Trump and his brigade of middle-aged and elderly hate mongers who've been spewing their brand of hatred for what feels like eons.

/sarcasm

None of those creatures were raised on South Park that's for sure. Dana Schwartz' take seems like a variant of blaming video games for corrupting the youth of today.
People aren't arguing that South Park invented bad people...
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,150
I don't think people are blaming the entire global trend on SP. It's just one of the fingers in the pie. That said, I don't think it's fair to let it skate by as just a symptom of a larger problem with the way it uses its platform.
I'm sorry but I feel like it is incredibly naive to blame South Park. The problems in society are vast and this whole thing just seems absurd to me.

South Park was never needed in the past to justify hateful vitriol and murderous intent on an industrial level. Blame the tools that enable the elements within human nature to so easily proliferate.

People aren't arguing that South Park invented bad people...
I think you're missing a lot of the discussion then. Because that's what's happening in a lot of those twitter replies. You might not think it, but using something specific like South Park as a scapegoat is a tale as old as time.

In short I think Dana's take is a waste of time that does nothing to address the root cause of the societal problems she (partly) attributes South Park for fostering. I'd be more supportive if I hadn't already seen the show blamed over the years by everyone including the same right-wing types that now pollute the "youth of today" with their malevolent vitriol.
 

danm999

Member
Oct 29, 2017
7,552
Sydney
As ridiculous as it seems, I do think our cultural products have a strong role in diminishing our trust in institutions and politics because our understanding of the moment is precisely filtered and molded by those products. Just think of the role of radio in the emergence of a far right in America. Cartoons, TV shows, and other media that people consume on a daily no doubt have a similar role in amplifying a healthy skepticism of power into a extremely cynical outlook on our civic life.
They reflect what already exists.

Distrust of politicians, low youth participation in voting, populism and anti-elite sentiment, the vulgarity of the common man, these things are much older and much deeper than South Park.
 

A.By

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,648
I'm sorry but I feel like it is incredibly naive to blame South Park. The problems in society are vast and this whole thing just seems absurd to me.

South Park was never needed in the past to justify hateful vitriol and murderous intent on an industrial level. Blame the tools that enable the elements within human nature to so easily proliferate.


I think you're missing a lot of the discussion then. Because that's what's happening in a lot of those twitter replies. You might not think it, but using something specific like South Park as a scapegoat is a tale as old as time.
It's not a scapegoat to explain that South Park creates a negative influence on people.

Media and culture can have an effect on people, it can be one thing that causes people to react or view things a certain way.
 

danm999

Member
Oct 29, 2017
7,552
Sydney
It's not a scapegoat to explain that South Park creates a negative influence on people.

Media and culture can have an effect on people, it can be one thing that causes people to react or view things a certain way.
I'm sorry but it's a massive scapegoat to say South Park did cultural damage that is "impossible to overstate".
 

kess

Member
Oct 27, 2017
861
Rocko's Modern Life comes out of the same 90s milieu, and disguises a lot of its cynicism as an all knowing trenchant wit.

This isn't exclusive to one time frame, of course. Enlightened centrism disguised as satire was Mad Magazine's bread and butter going back to the 50s.
 
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Dark Knight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,788
I don't think people are blaming the entire global trend on SP. It's just one of the fingers in the pie. That said, I don't think it's fair to let it skate by as just a symptom of a larger problem with the way it uses its platform.
South Park is incredibly nihilist due in part to the era in which it began. Pop culture in the 90's took an extremely nihilistic and cynical turn as the youth realized how powerless they are in a political machine forever beyond their influence. If anything, SP's nihilism is as reactionary as the show itself is known for. I think it was only reacting with cynicism to problems that make the rest of us cynical. I wouldn't say that cynicism helped anything beyond your average satire but I just have a hard time taking seriously those who pin today's less than optimistic political attitudes on it.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,150
It's not a scapegoat to explain that South Park creates a negative influence on people.

Media and culture can have an effect on people, it can be one thing that causes people to react or view things a certain way.
Yes, but I find myself getting extremely irritated with people wasting time on things like this when there are far bigger and worthy targets. There have just been so many instances of people attributing blame to popular culture across multiple decades and generations that I find myself dismissing Dana's take on South Park. It all just feels so outdated as an approach.

The medium is the message is the issue here. The content is minor compared to the medium in which ideas are shared. I mean here we've got one person's opinion trigger discussion across many different groups across the world. The medium of social media and instant global communication allows single ideas to spread rapidly.

From wikipedia on McLuhan's "medium is the message" theory:

In Understanding Media, McLuhan describes the "content" of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. This means that people tend to focus on the obvious, which is the content, to provide us valuable information, but in the process, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced subtly, or over long periods of time. As society's values, norms, and ways of doing things change because of the technology, it is then we realize the social implications of the medium. These range from cultural or religious issues and historical precedents, through interplay with existing conditions, to the secondary or tertiary effects in a cascade of interactions that we are not aware of.
 
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Oct 26, 2017
2,150
I think it is easily possible to overstate it because she's just done it. The ability for single individual people to disseminate "sound bites" like that so quickly to so many people is in my opinion far more culturally destructive. And I'm saying that independent on whether I agree or not with what's being said.

"Oh, but she's trying to highlight a social problem." It isn't the content that's the issue.

An elderly man can rant about foreigners all he likes but give him twitter and now he's the POTUS who has developed a cult of personality impervious to rationality and objective truth with a social media reach of many millions. If he didn't have that ability the people around him wouldn't enable him for their own reasons, as they're often prone to do.

The most delusional and hateful can immediately find an audience now. That is the fundamental issue here.
 

Ephonk

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
931
Belgium
Social media giving every opinion and hot take the same weight and viral reach has done waaaaay more damage then SP.
 

excelsiorlef

Member
Oct 25, 2017
43,451
I think it is easily possible to overstate it because she's just done it. The ability for single individual people to disseminate "sound bites" like that so quickly to so many people is in my opinion far more culturally destructive. And I'm saying that independent on whether I agree or not with what's being said.

"Oh, but she's trying to highlight a social problem." It isn't the content that's the issue.

An elderly man can rant about foreigners all he likes but give him twitter and now he's the POTUS who has developed a cult of personality impervious to rationality and objective truth with a social media reach of many millions. If he didn't have that ability the people around him wouldn't enable him for their own reasons, as they're often prone to do.

The most delusional and hateful can immediately find an audience now. That is the fundamental issue here.
As South Park teaches us, it doesn't matter what you say, saying it is the problem!

Afterall the only difference between her and Trump is positions.

To try to associate her cultural analysis of South Park to the rise of Trump is something

You realize Trump would get elected without Twitter right? It helped but the idea that we should take her access away to stop Trump's is a distortion of power dynamics at play

There is a delicious irony in invoking a variation of the very criticism she puts forward in rebuttal to her point though.

Twitter is not inherently a problem just like a TV show isn't inherently a problem but specific people on Twitter and specific shows can be

You can't just say that it doesn't matter what she's saying it's how she's able to say it that is the problem, and then say look at Trump to defend your argument.

This is precisely what she's critical of. You've stripped position from the equation. You are criticizing action regardless of position. That's exactly what South Park does, that's the issue.
 
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geraltofb7

Member
Oct 28, 2017
141
Imagine being so disconnected from reality that a cartoon seems to you to be a source of "major cultural damage"
 

excelsiorlef

Member
Oct 25, 2017
43,451
It's weird to act like media and fandom can't influence

The alt right was partially birthed from a reaction to criticism of video games.
 

Roytheone

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,854
For me south Park tend to be a mixed bag with both fantastic episodes and bad ones. Overall though I do really liked it, but fallen off the last few seasons since it feels like Matt and Trey are not that interested in it anymore.
 

Lastbroadcast

Member
Jul 6, 2018
334
Sydney, Australia
People talk about whether comedy "punched down" or "punched up" - during the 90s and early 00s it became "trendy" for comedy to punch everywhere indiscriminately. South Park was one of those shows that did this. It was seen as left wing at the time because it was partly a reaction to the puritanical moral majority that dominated American politics and society at that time, and tried to enforce ridiculous censorship.

Times have changed and nobody wants comedy that punches down. And fair enough. Why would we when Donald Trump does it every day?
 

takriel

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
5,230
People wasting so much time and energy on social media over pop culture, smh.

Yes, I see the irony here.
 

Crimson-Death

Member
Oct 27, 2017
880
Purgatory
I wonder what made a generation of young people cynical and angry, distrustful of institutions and traditional politics.

Was it the collapse in living standards and rising levels of debt

Was it the illegal wars based on lies that killed millions of people and continue to rend the world's wounds open for decades

Was it the accelerating climate crisis destroying the planet, burning, drowning, choking and poisoning us all that leaders deny is happening, and when they don't decline to do anything about since it would be too expensive

Was it the return of fascism, white nationalism, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps and xenophobia

Was it the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression, where insane hyper accelerated greed destroyed the homes and livelihoods of the middle class

No, in fact, it was a cartoon

Thank you, this post brings me hope after reading most of that first page.
 

Jegriva

Banned
Sep 23, 2019
2,702
this pissed off some people
'
She's not wrong, but I think South Park is more an effect than a cause. South Park was great in the late 90s when we thought everything was good and racism was beaten. It was good when it wasn't common mocking George W after the 9/11. But mocking every. Single. Social. Struggle. is basically nihilism.

The last times I think it was relevant were Cartoon Wars and the Scientology episode.

The Birth of a Nation disagrees
Yeah, people surely weren't racist before Birth of Nation /s
 

L Thammy

Spacenoid
Member
Oct 25, 2017
17,395
Yeah, people surely weren't racist before Birth of Nation /s
No one is claiming that Birth of a Nation made people racist. I'm not sure why you'd jump to that idea if you viewing that statement in good faith.

What Birth of a Nation is noted by historians as doing is popularizing the Ku Klux Klan and creating an explosion in their membership, which is what that excelsiorlef was referring to.
 

Alice

Member
Nov 2, 2017
5,466
The people in this thread defending South Park really, really need to look up what normalization means.

I wouldn't blame South Park alone (no one really does, btw), but the entire mindset and the wave it rode on did a LOT to normalize the sort of behaviour that's absolutely harmful to culture, and society. It's a lot like 4chan, I meet a ton of people online who basically grew up on 4chan and don't really have a filter anymore for what should be acceptable, and what isn't.

The effects normalization of harmful behaviour have on our culture and society absolutely cannot be understated. At the point where it goes beyond escapism and acts as the basis of whole identities, we're kinda getting screwed.

And to the people who claim TV shows don't have that sort of power, go ahead and talk to people about how much Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street shaped their perception of the world.
 

Riversands

Member
Nov 21, 2017
4,431
I grew up on South Park and I turned out fine ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I'm pretty left-wing.

I don't know if these impressionable young kids who became cynical fucks took how the show dealt with issues seriously or what. And is that the creators' fault? I don't know.

All I know is I understood it was a satire and it did me no harm. I also haven't watched it for yonks.
I always wonder if there is something with south park formula that makes it feel like a satire. Im not american, but each time im watching south park and as rude as the show has always been it always feel like satire. Like i just know it for some reason. Maybe there is a kind of unsaid rule with the semantic or something like that
 

Arkanim94

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,284
And I always thought that the man bear pig thing was tongue in check, and they weren't really climate change denialists.
 

Jegriva

Banned
Sep 23, 2019
2,702
You understand that influence isn't creation right?

It's an historical fact that The Birth of a Nation helped revive the KKK
It wasn't the movie per se, it was a concerted effort by many groups (p.e. the Daughters of the Confederacy) that took decades, and affected schoolbooks in particular. Birth of a Nation was made by people who grew up on those books and hearing those tales.

Vox made an excellent video about it:
 

Shugga

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
20,875
They told China off one time so now the casual hateful episodes get a pass with white men
 

excelsiorlef

Member
Oct 25, 2017
43,451
It wasn't the movie per se, it was a concerted effort by many groups (p.e. the Daughters of the Confederacy) that took decades, and affected schoolbooks in particular. Birth of a Nation was made by people who grew up on those books and hearing those tales.

Vox made an excellent video about it:
Yes it was more than one thing.

But Birth of Nation helped.

Hence why I said helped.
 
Jan 11, 2019
250
And I always thought that the man bear pig thing was tongue in check, and they weren't really climate change denialists.
Indeed, and that the reveal of manbearpig being real was in fact always planned…

Also yeah… southpark can be all over the place. But when they just did a series on ICE and spotlighted the separation of minors from their at the US/Mexican border I have a hard time seeing why the show is considered centrist or and is currently embraced by alt-righters.
 

Arkanim94

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,284
Indeed, and that the reveal of manbearpig being real was in fact always planned…

Also yeah… southpark can be all over the place. But when they just did a series on ICE and spotlighted the separation of minors from their at the US/Mexican border I have a hard time seeing why the show is considered centrist or and is currently embraced by alt-righters.
it's what happens when you want to tackle the problems created by late stage capitalism, but you really , REALLY like money.

tackling climate change was too much even for them, so they just said it wasn't real lol.
 

Tennis

Member
Oct 27, 2017
386
Comedy evolves and and South Park really doesn't have its finger on the pulse anymore (if it ever did in fact). When topical/political comedy is bad or ill-advised it turns into horrible statements and people are right for pointing it out. I think it's wonderful that audiences have realized that they are as much responsible for the bad comedy as the comedians are. OK not maybe as much but what I'm saying is that people can indeed affect the kind of jokes that are being told by simply not laughing at them.

When a joke doesn't work, tell a different joke.


"Impossible to overstate the cultural damage done" is a hell of an opening statement to a criticism lol
What do you think criticism is?
 

Patapuf

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,396
Takes that make a single piece of media responsible for some large societal change will always be a terrible way to frame discussion.

Because then people argue about the show instead of the point you wanted to make.

And it's always an exageration anyway, but exagerations are what gets shared on the internet.
 

Galkinator

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,304
Are people overestimating SP's influence?
Like, most people I know and talked to never seen SP, and half of them or more never heard about it (including Americans). Yes totally anecdotal but still I was surprised myself to learn SP isn't as famous as I thought it is.

Seems like giving SP too much credit to blame these sort of stuff on them
 
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Vampirolol

Member
Dec 13, 2017
2,500
I like South Park and think some of the episodes are on par with the best Simpsons, though I haven't seen the last 4 or 5 seasons.
I don't think the show is responsible for any cultural damage. Like, maybe 0,00001% of it, because of some shitty episodes? But South Park has never been influential or anything, even the first seasons, the only ones that generated real controversy back then, were simply a product of those times. So yeah, that's fine but to me is a huge overstatement. The only ones responsible for the "weak minds" are the close people and society as a whole.
Of course, fuck alt-right comments.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,150
As South Park teaches us, it doesn't matter what you say, saying it is the problem!

Afterall the only difference between her and Trump is positions.

To try to associate her cultural analysis of South Park to the rise of Trump is something

You realize Trump would get elected without Twitter right? It helped but the idea that we should take her access away to stop Trump's is a distortion of power dynamics at play

There is a delicious irony in invoking a variation of the very criticism she puts forward in rebuttal to her point though.

Twitter is not inherently a problem just like a TV show isn't inherently a problem but specific people on Twitter and specific shows can be

You can't just say that it doesn't matter what she's saying it's how she's able to say it that is the problem, and then say look at Trump to defend your argument.

This is precisely what she's critical of. You've stripped position from the equation. You are criticizing action regardless of position. That's exactly what South Park does, that's the issue.
I'm making a point which was put into writing by Marshall McLuhan back in 1964 in his book "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man". Despite the time gap his theories apply directly to the shitshow that is society under the umbrella of social media. In short: the content is less important than how it is communicated.

But if you must know (you're not demanding it but I'll tell you anyway) I was raised on a diet of South Park and believe in rationality, empathy for others, and socialistic principles (at least within a capitalist economy) and I'm absolutely not a right-wing lunatic.

I put it to you and her that it isn't South Park that makes people what they are but the environment they're in and the constant barrage of information to which they're subjected every day. The shortened structure of twitter and nature of other platforms lead to oversimplified "hot takes" and a flattening of meaning. This gets disseminated, interpreted incorrectly (as it relates to the original material) and before you know it fake news emerges and opinion polarised.
 

Kyuuji

Member
Nov 8, 2017
9,807
I'm making a point which was put into writing by Marshall McLuhan back in 1964 in his book "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man". Despite the time gap his theories apply directly to the shitshow that is society under the umbrella of social media. In short: the content is less important than how it is communicated.

But if you must know (you're not demanding it but I'll tell you anyway) I was raised on a diet of South Park and believe in rationality, empathy for others, and socialistic principles (at least within a capitalist economy) and I'm absolutely not a right-wing lunatic.

I put it to you and her that it isn't South Park that makes people what they are but the environment they're in and the constant barrage of information to which they're subjected every day. The shortened structure of twitter and nature of other platforms lead to oversimplified "hot takes" and a flattening of meaning. This gets disseminated, interpreted incorrectly (as it relates to the original material) and before you know it fake news emerges and opinion polarised.
By that same token many people were raised with such technology and equally aren’t alt-right dipshits spewing hate everywhere and are capable of empathy and rationality like yourself. Just because one exists doesn’t mean the other can’t also have had a large influence within it, even if that has exacerbated the issue over the years as said technologies have grown.
 

HotHamBoy

Member
Oct 27, 2017
13,595
this pissed off some people
'
It’s possible there is truth to this.

on the other hand, i know of plenty of passionate, earnest, empathetic people who used to watch the show. I include myself.

maybe it’s telling that i no longer watch it, maybe it’s just been genuinely shitty for a long time.

Maybe it was always shit!

but I don’t think it damaged my worldview.
Social media giving every opinion and hot take the same weight and viral reach has done waaaaay more damage then SP.
Now this I can get behind
 

Kyuuji

Member
Nov 8, 2017
9,807
on the other hand, i know of plenty of passionate, earnest, empathetic people who used to watch the show. I include myself.
It’s not really an argument against much unless you believe the argument to be every single person that saw South Park was moulded into a nazi troll.
 
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alexiswrite

Member
Oct 27, 2017
687
I don't think it's wild to say that a tv show that was one of the most popular pieces of cultural critique for an era had some effect on the way people act today. Pointing out that other things probably had an effect too isn't really a counterpoint to that.