June 30, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of this movie. Of course, fans of South Park (of which I am one) find it hilarious. Some enjoy the movie simply because they enjoy the show, therefore this movie was an easy sell to them. Others enjoyed the story and many of the jokes on their own merits which is great. Sadly though, many of these people were too engrossed in the jokes to really pay attention to what the movie was trying to say. Even sadder still, many non-fans didn't see it even though most of them really should have seen it for their own good. The movie's message was clearly aimed at them. This movie deserves much more attention than it's gotten over the past decade.
The film's story starts when the 4 main characters, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflofski (with his little brother Ike tagging along), Eric Cartman, and Kenny McKorrmick manage to get in to see an R-rated film called Asses of Fire starring their favourite cartoon characters Terrance and Phillip. The relentless foul language in that movie inspires the young kids to swear just like them. Although little Ike mispronounces "donkey-raping shit eater" as "dopey baby shee deeder". The kids then do all this swearing at school which gets the teachers and the parentsinvolved immediately. Kyle's mother Sheila is so upset by this that she is ready to form a committee to get rid of foul language forever. She doesn't just merely want to ban Terrance and Phillip, she decides to get to the "source" and ban everything from their home and native land: Canada. This eventually leads to WWIII and in-turn causes a pussy-whipped Satan and his abuser Sadam Hussein to rise up from Hell and conquer the Earth. Of course, the ironic twist at the end is that Cartman's excessive swearing combined with the electrically charged V-chip inside his brain end up saving the day which then leads to Satan reversing the damage that was caused by Sheila Broflofski's committee.
I personally enjoy this movie mostly because it hits the nail on the head as far as modern-day censorship goes. Kudos aplenty are due to Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and especially to the subversively creative mind of Pam Brady. (I'm certain South Park would be nowhere without her). All types of Soccer Moms, Thought Police, and any other Paranoid Prudes have come up with all sorts of bullshit excuses for censorship. They make all sorts of ridiculous claims that all this racy content inspires real world destruction. While poking around the internet one day, I found this little crackpot blurb as to why Apu from The Simpsons is such a "dangerous character":
If a gunman holds up a 7-Eleven store and sees a South Asian man behind the counter,
and thinks of him as “just an Apu” instead of an actual human being
with friends and family and hopes and dreams and feelings, it makes it that much easier to pull the trigger, doesn’t it?
Um............... yeah. Well, you see, GUN MEN WILL SHOOT ANYBODY BEHIND THE COUNTER OF A CONVENIENCE STORE BECAUSE THEY'RE HOMICIDAL MANIACS!!! Has there ever been a report of a robbery where the gun man said "hey, there's Apu behind the counter, let's kill him". The Sheila Broflofski's of the world only offer paranoid hypotheses backed up with 0 proof knowing damn well that other paranoid soccer moms will fall for it. That's why this movie and the real-life Sheila's inspired me to create something I hope further puts these people in their places: Censor Monkeys!! (That's a link to the Facebook group).
The movie even demonstrates that even though the racy movie did introduce swear words to the boys, it was indeed NOT the movie alone. One of the lyrics in the opening song says "...off to the movies we shall go where we learn everything that we know, because the movies tell us what our parents don't have time to say." Neglectful parents lead more directly to bad behaviour than even 1000 Porky's sequels combined. That point is hammered home much more succinctly when Kyle's mom Sheila starts her committee and sends her and all the parents to Washington in order to persuade them to take action against Canada, leaving all the kids at home unsupervised. Later, in the middle of WWIII, Kyle makes a heart-felt plea to "deal with me" when it comes to profanity. In other words, don't force the media to do your parenting job.
Sadly (or should I say "depressingly"), not enough people got that message. Roger Ebert and some of the other movie critics of the time who did like seemed to have gotten the message. One even brilliantly stated, "this movie will offend people that need to be offended once in a while". I love how he indicates that offensiveness is a societal need rather than just a guilty-pleasure type of want. And really, he's right. A good offensive show (be it a movie, tv show, song, etc.) keeps one on their toes and helps them to not be too comfortable in their one little sanitized world. That's what good artwork is for. It stirs emotions and makes you think. However, it seems that less people understand that these days. Around the time this South Park movie came out, the FCC received about 111 calls from people complaining about content. That's the "extreme" number the movie was trying to make look ridiculous. After good ol' Mr. "Dubya" is elected president, by 2004, the FCC was bombarded by over 1,000,000 calls. I'm sure most of those had to do with Janet Jackson's Superbowl performance. But even since then
there's been crazy people in the Middle East going crazy over Muhammad cartoons, crazy militant black people and equally crazed and militant white-guilt whitey going crazy over two print cartoons within a span of a few months, the New Yorker cover last August and the New York Post last February. The most recent as of this posting is from the ultimate Soccer Mom Sarah Palin coming down on David Letterman. Yeesh!! I think this movie needs to be revisited again. How did so many people miss such an obvious point?
Actually, I think I might know that answer. The racy content of South Park itself is both its strength and its weakness. The content pretty much guarantees the show an R-rating or sometimes even an NC-17 rating, therefore the writing staff have really achieved carte-blanche it terms of what they can do. There's no such thing as "too far" for South Park. They can do anything they want without too much of a struggle. That's the kind of environment most artists and/or writers hope to achieve. (Of course, Woody Allen managed to accomplish this WITHOUT much profanity but that's another post). However, it's that very same as-racy-as-possible content that causes people to not pay as close attention to it. Like I said, no matter how far they go, fans just shrug it off and say "that's South Park for you". Non-fans (most of them real-life Sheila Broflofskis) just can't get passed the swearing and any other blood violent
or explicitly sexual content. Therefore, any message contained within any text or subtext of any episode falls mostly on deaf ears. I personally can indeed withstand any and all swearing that South Park can dish out. Hell, as a good Canadian boy, I watched as much Kids in the Hall as I could long before South Park raised its poorly animated head. I suggest that more people should do the same.
So, to commemorate this movie's "Aluminum Anniversary", I suggest gathering as many of your friends as you can to watch it (rent it if you have to). But don't just invite the people who enjoyed it. Make sure people who missed the point about censorship see it and give them the education they never had. Hey, maybe even schedule one of those outdoor theatre screenings of the movie. That way, every passerby will be exposed to it. Just make sure that the movie's message reaches the public at large. And, if any Broflofskis or any other Censor Monkey types do come around screaming bloody murder about the movie's content (or the content of pretty much anything), just sing the following lyrics in their collective faces as loud as you can:
Shut your fucking face, uncle fucka.
You're a cock-sucking, ass-licking, uncle fucka.
You're an uncle fucka. Yess it's true.
Nobody fucks uncles quite like you.
Shut YOUR fucking face, uncle fucka.
You're the one that fucked your uncle, uncle fucka.
You don't eat or sleep or mow the lawn
you just fuck your uncle all day long.
Shut your fucking face, uncle fucka.
You're a boner biting bastard, uncle fucka.
You're an uncle fucka I must say.
You fucked your uncle yesterday.
Uncle Fucka, that's U-N-C-L-E FUCK YOU!!
suck my balls
If you need help with the music, here's the full song:
Happy 10th birthday, South Park movie. I hope you do eventually change the world for the better, because goddammit we need it now more than ever.