What Does South Park’s Humor Teach Us?

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Fans of South Park

Flatulence humor or how it is also called scatological humor is known from time immemorial on the planet Earth. For instance, the first archeological find illustrating a kind of a discussed type of humor justifies that poop jokes were hand in hand with other spiritual art kinds in the course of human history: It is a Sumerian earthenware fresco dating back to 1900—1600 BC.

The Sumerian joke

The Sumerian joke

In that regard, we decided to look closer at the phenomenon of flatulence humor but focusing on its modern manifestations. The most famous example is the jokes used in the American TV-show “South Park,” which is notorious because of its unprecedently enormous usage of scatological humor and addressing to the taboo topics such as politics, religion, sex, and other topical subjects of the modern world.

However, many nowadays philosophers and critics argue that this TV-show is not what it looks like meaning that under the disguise of vulgarity, the authors of a scandal cartoon try to communicate their position and thoughts regarding the problems of our society.

Begin Your Essay with the Historical Background of Scatological Humor

Flatulence humor existed as long as a humankind. As it was mentioned already, its roots can be traced back to the BC era. It proves the fact that such type of jokes is the most natural way to stimulate laugh. Nevertheless, it should not be regarded as the low form of humor showing low human development. Such classics of literature as Aristophanes (“The Knights” and “The Clouds”) or Seneca (“Apocolocyntosis or The Pumpkinification of Claudius”) were not squeamish about using poop jokes. Even such a masterpiece of the world literature as “1001 Arabian Nights Tales” includes a story entitled “The Historic Fart.

Suffering Middle Age Meme

Later, we can meet the manifestation of lavatorial humor in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer (“The Miller's Tale”), in the Francois Rabelais' tales of “Gargantua and Pantagruel,” William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” and many more. What is more, bathroom humor has been found on the posters and caricatures beginning from the XVI century.

What should be noticed is that most part of such “art” implied the political critique of certain events and political leaders of those times, expressing the public sentiment in such a way.

Continue Your Essay with South Park Philosophy

Filthy Jokes or Unique Satire?

Needless to say, one can actively express his/her political position not only in a lecture hall, at a rally, or on the pages of intellectual journals and books. At the same time, it is a traditional way to write something about liberalism or conservatism and publish it in a magazine or go to a meeting of like-minded people and talk about what you think there, and it is usually chosen by all self-respecting intellectuals.

However, each rule has its own exceptions. So we have a rare example when a couple of people managed to become a conductor of a certain kind of a right political ideology in a very special, "non-traditional way." This unique phenomenon can be observed in the animated satirical show "South Park.

At first glance, the artistic merits of the series cannot withstand any criticism. Actually, even after more detailed acquaintance with the cartoon the viewer, who did not see the cartoon, is unlikely to change his/her point of view, making sure that there is nothing high-artistic in the form of the series. Moreover, the very content of the cartoon causes, if not outrage, then certainly dislike of many "carriers of high moral standards".

Of course, the humor of the "South Park" is special – to be precise – "scatological," which is not without pride was argued by the authors and characters of the show themselves. And why then should one watch it?"

South Park Art

The fact is that the cartoon narrates about American cultural life. Although most part of its audience does not pay any attention to this because of "loud jokes," we learn a lot about the life of the US – for example, about the evolutionist Richard Dawkins, the well-known black politics Jesse Jackson, the popular presenter Oprah Winfrey, and many others.

As a rule, all these individuals are rudely and cruelly ridiculed. So, Tom Cruise locked himself in the closet because one little boy does not like how he plays in the movies, Richard Dawkins has sex with a human who was once a man, Barbra Streisand turns into a terrible Godzilla, Mel Gibson is portrayed as a radical masochist who likes to be cruelly tortured, as in the film "Passion of the Christ," and Saddam Hussein, after falling into hell, begins to date with soft, gentle, and diffident... Satan.

The Issue of Politics

In general, writing about politics in the "South Park" briefly is a thankless task because everything is politics in it. However, the socio-political plots of the series can be actualized in several ways.

Firstly, the "South Park" itself is a problem. Does it deserve to be shown on television, can children be allowed to watch it or not? All these questions are serious enough and require a long discussion.

Secondly, this is, in fact, the political views of the creators of the show, which can be seen in the series very well.

Thirdly, the series raises common questions, which we might call questions of "political theory." For example, in one of the episodes of the series is sharply put the theme of political choice.

Fourthly, the creators of the cartoon also touch upon more specific political issues. For example, it is the exposure of all the conspiracy theories regarding 9/11. This is the essence of US foreign policy: while some Americans condemn something and do nothing to change this, others simply do what they think is necessary. So, in one of the series, the inhabitants of the city were divided into two parts – for and against the war in Iraq.

Fifthly, all social issues raised in the cartoon deserve special consideration. These are religious subjects (Scientology, Mormonism, Catholicism), sexual issues (abortion, homosexuality, pedophilia), and relations with national minorities (Mexicans, Native Americans, Chinese).

Essay Conclusion

The creators mock at their audience almost in each episode: they mock at all conceivable and inconceivable things, neglecting all norms of morality and rules of decency. For them, there is practically nothing sacred.

To tell the truth, among the cartoons and non-cartoons there is a few that can be better than the "South Park". As one philosopher wrote: "South Park offers us something more than a vulgar language, rude simple humor, and shock for the sake of shock. Paying special attention to the subtle criticism of overly zealous right and left political extremists in the show, we become aware of the fact that to be somewhere in the middle and to ridicule both those and others is a normal thing."

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