South Park cartoons are controversial, crude, raunchy, satirical and always pushing boundaries, but more than that they can actually change the way we view news.
The series is known for taking news stories and changing them around to get a message across. Think differently, expand your mind, and take a new perspective.
South Park aired an episode last week called, “The Magic Bush,” where two characters, Butters and Cartman, steal Butters’ dad’s drone and record a video of their neighbour’s, well, bush.
In the show, the video becomes viral and the people of South Park begin to look at the lady in the video differently.
This scenario is a play on the celebrity nude photos hacker scandal, where photos of naked stars were released to the public.
Cartman describes our landscape perfectly: “We live in a world where privacy is gone, okay? It’s just gone, bud. Your wiener, my balls – they’re public domain.”
South Park is highlighting the importance of keeping the conversation about privacy issues open.
Cartman’s remark is totally true. Private photos are being posted on the Internet for everyone to see. We live in a world where the word “private” has lost its meaning, due to incidents like this.
In the same episode, South Park addresses the topic of drones, creating a “neighbourhood watch” team of drones. Next, one of the neighbourhood drones gets shot down by a police drone.
The kicker? That neighbourhood watch drone was black.
The neighbourood watch drones proceed to protest and the police drones step in and tell them to stop. When the protestors refuse to leave, the National Guard is called in.
Sound familiar? This is about the incident in Ferguson, Missouri where African-American youth Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by police. He was unarmed at the time. These events caused civil unrest in Ferguson, and made people question their trust in police.
Did South Park’s drone play on the Ferguson shooting have an effect on viewers?
Most viewers of South Park are loyal, and have grown accustom to the series. The show’s creators have the power to plant question marks in the minds of their audience.
Be it South Park, Family Guy, Simpsons, Modern Family or any other show that catches your eye, a message can be sent out. It may be said in a funny way or performed satirically, but it is there.
It makes us think about what is happening in the world. These shows address issues that have to be discussed. They tell us to always question what we are seeing on the news, and that things can be easily fabricated and tweaked.
We should be cross-referencing our information from the media. Browse different different sites and see if the accounts are matching.
Go on Twitter and see what people are saying. During the protesting in Ferguson, journalists were tweeting about what they were seeing live — and so were the protestors. Their stories matched, yet what finally appeared on the television news was different. So we can’t always assume something we see in the news is correct.
South Park has been around since 1997, and the creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone know how to grab news and display it in a comical way. They tell viewers that we should be picky with what we choose to believe. When I hear something on the news, I try not to believe it right away. I will always ask questions. Did South Park make me do it? Maybe. Is it because I love conspiracy theories? Maybe. The point is, South Park and several other TV shows can help us put things in perspective.