Subject matter in South Park
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South Park has attempted to cover and satirize a large number of topics over the course of its run. South Park Studio's use of computer animation allows it to edit episodes in days, quickly commenting on recent events (Elián González, 2000 U.S. presidential election, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the election of Barack Obama etc.). The creators also have engendered a mix of socially liberal and fiscally conservative viewpoints, espousing a libertarian ideology in both real life and on the show. However, the show's creators call themselves "equal opportunity offenders", and reject the notion that they are trying to put forth any consistent ideological agenda through the show.
- "Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut": Cartman's Mom attempted to get her son a "42nd trimester" abortion, and finds out that such a late abortion is illegal, she says "Well, I think you need to keep your laws off of my body." Later in the episode, Mrs Cartman says "I should've thought of raising a child before having sex." She later realises that she confused the word "abortion" with "adoption".
- "Cartman Joins NAMBLA": Upon learning that his parents want to have another child, Kenny attempts to prevent the event of having a younger sibling. He attempts to give his mother morning-after abortion pills, tries to get her to drink liquor and encourages her to ride on an intense amusement park attraction in order to provoke a miscarriage. None of his attempts work, however, leaving the newborn child to become a miniature reincarnation of Kenny himself.
- "Chef Goes Nanners": The substitute teacher shows that the class had participated in different debates, with one being "Pro-Choice vs. Cartman".
- "Kenny Dies": Cartman attempts to get stem cell research (using aborted fetuses) legalized in a feigned attempt to save Kenny's life. It is revealed at the end of the episode he really wanted to use stem cells to clone his favorite pizza restaurant.
- "A Ladder to Heaven": Upon realizing that Kenny's soul is inside his body, Cartman decides to go somewhere where they "remove living souls from inside" of him. He then proceeds to go to an abortion clinic where he gets into an argument with the lady at the counter, stating that he can't live this way and demanding that they just suck Kenny's soul out. A couple walk in and upon hearing Cartman's rant, the girlfriend states that she "can't do this" and runs out. At that point, the visibly angry boyfriend throws a rock at Cartman.
- "Woodland Critter Christmas": The mountainlion cubs are taught at an abortion clinic how to stop the Antichrist porcupine from being born. During the episode's final confrontation, they give Kyle an "abortion", expelling the Antichrist from his body so that Santa can crush it with a sledgehammer.
- "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina": The newly sex-changed Mrs. Garrison becomes convinced she is pregnant because she doesn't start menstruating. She asks the doctor whether he would "vacuum it (the fetus) out or scramble its brains" because "a woman can do whatever she wants with her body," only to find out at the abortion clinic that uteruses are not created in sex change operations; therefore she cannot get pregnant.
- "Eek, a Penis!": Cartman spends most of the episode teaching inner-city kids that it is okay to cheat. In counseling a pregnant teenager, he says that "Abortion isn't wrong...abortion is the ultimate form of cheating. You're cheating nature itself. Why do rich white girls get ahead in life? Because they get abortions when they're young. They get pregnant, but they still want to go to college, so, whatever, they just cheat. They cheat that little critter in their belly out of a chance at life."
- South Park: The Stick of Truth: A section of the game takes place in the abortion clinic, named Unplanned Parenthood, as the New Kid goes undercover dressing as a girl to recover a girl's abortion records for Wendy's crew. Along the way, he has to perform an "abortion" on Randy Marsh in disguise to fool the government agents and deal with an outbreak of Nazi Zombie Fetuses that overrun the clinic. This section was censored in the release of the game in certain regions.
- Barbra Streisand: in "Mecha-Streisand", "200", and "201", she gains evil-powers and destroys the town as a Mechagodzilla-style creature; in "Spookyfish", different visages from her TV and movie work appear as "Spooky Streisand" sidebars. Her name also seems to be something of a curse word in the South Park universe, as in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants."
- "Starvin' Marvin" and "Starvin' Marvin in Space" lampoon the charity efforts of Sally Struthers, who appears as a Jabba the Hutt figure in the latter episode.
- "Butters' Very Own Episode": the parents of Butters Stotch try to conceal his attempted murder with the help of Gary Condit, O. J. Simpson, and the parents of JonBenét Ramsey.
- In the episode "Fat Butt and Pancake Head", Cartman makes a Jennifer Lopez hand puppet, which suddenly develops a personality of its own and becomes a singing sensation. As a result, the real J-Lo is fired from her record label and Ben Affleck falls in love with the hand puppet.
- Affleck, prior to "Fat Butt and Pancake Head", also appears in "How to Eat with Your Butt", where it's revealed that he is the long-lost son of a couple suffering from a fictitious congenital condition called "torsonic polarity syndrome" (TPS), which causes victims to appear to have buttocks in place of their face.
- Rob Reiner is derided as a hypocritical activist who works to outlaw smoking in public places for reasons of health, despite the fact that he is obese on account of poor dietary habits, in "Butt Out".
- John Edward's mentalist/medium practices are criticized in "The Biggest Douche in the Universe".
- Jared Fogle is satirized in "Jared Has Aides": a play on his use of personal trainers in the episode.
- Russell Crowe is playfully mocked for his Gladiator role and his violent fights in "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer".
- During "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" Rob Schneider is shown in four movie previews. The previews depict Rob Schneider transforming into a stapler, a carrot and Kenny McCormick. One of the previews is more like a template with often used phrases "Until one day", "From the creators of" and "Rob Schneider is" between which it's filled with nonsensical gibberish. Rob Schneider is shown dancing in a discothèque, walking into a lamp post, drinking some liquid in a laboratory and falling down stairs.
- Mel Gibson is the subject of Cartman's admiration after Cartman watches Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ, culminating in "The Passion of the Jew", wherein Gibson responds to Stan and Kenny's demand for a refund of the money they spent on The Passion by masochistic tendencies with which he accuses Stan of Kenny of threatening to torture him, and by chasing after the two after they steal the money from his home. He later defecates on Cartman and smears his feces on a South Park building, ruining his standing with Cartman and his Christian South Park fans. He later appears in the "Imaginationland Episode III", in which he provides story ideas to the United States government, in order to inspire a possible avenue of investigation into the invasion of Imaginationland. Despite his bizarre, erratic behavior, the Pentagon officials observe, his experience as a director and his understanding of story structure actually provide a useful idea, where previous directors consulted, Michael Bay and M. Night Shaymalan, merely suggested special effects and plot twists.
- Michael Jackson is portrayed with the character "Mr. Jefferson" in the episode "The Jeffersons", in which he moves to South Park with his son Blanket to a house full of arcade games and animals, inevitably attracting all the kids in the town. He is later parodied in the season 13 episode "Dead Celebrities" as a ghost possessing Ike because of his denial of being dead, being a man, being an adult and being black.
- Paris Hilton is caricatured as a "skank" in "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset". The episode implies (and in some cases explicitly states) that Paris Hilton is a stupid, spoiled, drunken whore who has done nothing to deserve her fame except being rich and spoiled. The episode also criticizes how she has become a role model for young girls (the girls of South Park, with the exception of Wendy Testaburger, quickly take up her supposedly promiscuous and mindless attitude towards life after the opening of the "Stupid spoiled whore" shop).
- Tom Cruise and John Travolta are famously caricatured in "Trapped in the Closet" for their participation in Scientology. This episode resulted in the departure of Isaac Hayes as Chef in "The Return of Chef", where Chef is brainwashed into a made-up organization lampooning Scientology (of which Hayes is a member, and claimed religious insult because of "Closet"). The title of the "Closet" episode references "Trapped in the Closet" by R. Kelly, who is also a participant in "Closet."
- Prior to "Trapped in the Closet", Travolta was featured in "The Entity", demonstrating Mr. Garrison's monowheel vehicle known as "IT."
- George Clooney is considered a source of "smug" in "Smug Alert!" for his speech giving Hollywood credit in the American Civil Rights Movement, and in the movie for the doctor.
- David Blaine is satirized in "Super Best Friends" as being the leader of a cult known as Blaintology.
- In the episode "Red Hot Catholic Love", Martha Stewart uses Cartman's method of digestion (which involves shoving food up the anus and defecating out the mouth) to eat a whole turkey.
- In the episode "Here Comes the Neighborhood", Token convinces rich African-American celebrities such as Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Sean Combs and Bill Cosby (who is shown having an obsession with Jell-O pudding) to move to South Park. Oprah also makes an appearance on the episode "A Million Little Fibers", where she talks about selecting Towelie's memoirs as her book of the month.
- U.S. Army troops mistake a goat for Fleetwood Mac lead vocalist Stevie Nicks in the episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants".
- In the episode "Tsst", Cesar Millan from the show Dog Whisperer is brought in to discipline Cartman after Nanny 911 and Supernanny fail.
- Al Gore is satirized in the episode "ManBearPig", where he warns the town of South Park about a terrible creature that is "half-man, half-bear and half-pig."
- In the episode "Ginger Kids", when Cartman presents his report about red-haired, pale-skin, freckled people, his slideshow displays pictures of Carrot Top and Ron Howard.
- The Fab Five from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are parodied as Crab People in the episode "South Park Is Gay!".
- In the episode "The Snuke", Hillary Clinton has a nuclear weapon in her vagina.
- In the episode "Britney's New Look", Britney Spears' popularity is due to her being a sacrifice for corn Harvest.
- Taylor Swifting and Faith Hilling was parodied in South Park.
- In the episode "About Last Night...", Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Obama are members of an elite team of professional thieves after the Hope Diamond.
- "Imaginationland Episode II": Kurt Russell is depicted making fun of the movie Stargate. He goes into the imagination portal where he is raped by Cartman's made up forest critters.
- In the episode "The Ring", The Jonas Brothers are part of an evil plot by Mickey Mouse, unbeknown to The Jonas Brothers, to help Mickey Mouse sell sex to young girls.
- In the episode Sexual Healing instead of claiming responsibility for the sex scandals, various celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Michael Jordan, Ben Roethlisberger, David Duchovny, Charlie Sheen, David Letterman, Bill Clinton, Billy Bob Thornton, Kobe Bryant, Elliot Spitzer, and Tiger Woods use excuses such as sex addiction cast on them by an "Alien Wizard" to justify their own actions.
- In the episode "Prehistoric Ice Man", Marilyn Manson is performing a song called 'Stinky Britches' on a TV in a shop before Larry angrily smashes the glass and the TV.
The primary subject of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, censorship is a repeatedly cited concern in multiple episodes. Notable episodes involving censorship include "Death", "It Hits the Fan", "Cartoon Wars Part I", "Cartoon Wars Part II", "200" and "201".
- "Cartoon Wars Part II": Cartman wishes the president a major news corporation to prevent a television episode from going to air, and to prevent Kyle from interfering with his plan, Cartman states, "okay, I'll make it easy for you", and pulls out a gun and aims it at the president. When the president responds with, "okay, I'll listen to you", Kyle states to the president, "you can't do what he wants just because he's the one threatening you with violence!" When the president then responds with, "I can't be responsible for people getting hurt. Especially me", Kyle states, "yes, people can get hurt. That's how terrorism works. But if you give into that... you're allowing terrorism to work. Do the right thing here".
- "Ike's Wee Wee": Mr. Mackey is forced out of his job for losing a marijuana bud in a drug-education class. Ironically, he goes through a cycle of experimentation (ending up in his adopting hippie ideology and happily marrying a woman he meets), before an enforced treatment (after being captured during his honeymoon in India by the A-Team, no less) and becoming a spokesman against drugs.
- "My Future Self n' Me": Stan and Butters' parents find an indirect and strange way to try to prevent their children from using drugs. They hire representatives to act as though they were future versions of the children, who travel back in time to tell them how the use of drugs has made their lives miserable. While the episode does condemn the use of drugs, it parodies the tendency of people (especially parents) to overreact to the substances and deceive their children to ensure their safety.
- "Towelie" and "A Million Little Fibers": Towelie is forced to confront his marijuana addiction in times of crisis, eventually coming to the "conclusion" that he should only partake in drug use when he accomplishes something good, not in order to.
- "Up the Down Steroid": Jimmy Valmer is chronicled through his use of steroids; combines the subject of performance enhancing drug controversy frequently seen in baseball and other sports with a Lifestories: Families in Crisis episode about steroid use.
- "Die Hippie, Die": The hippies have their Jamfest in South Park to "Stop Corporations" and Kenny, Kyle and Stan join the hippies. In the end, the boys realize the hippies smoke way too much pot and are just as selfish as the corporations they complain about by trying to forget about their troubles when they don't have any.
- "Major Boobage": Kids across the nation, particularly Kenny, have found a new way to get high. The episode references the glue-sniffing, paint snorting, and marker sniffing epidemics.
- "Quest for Ratings" To get ideas for South Park Elementary's closed-circuit television system, the boys decide to get high on cough medicine. Remembering that they had seen Craig's program while high and thought it to be brilliant, they conclude that a majority of the school must be perpetually high on cough medicine, accounting for his ratings. They then decide to produce a special report that gets cough medicine banned from school.
- "Medicinal Fried Chicken" is about medical marijuana being legal while KFC portrays as addicted drug and now illegal.
- "Best Friends Forever" shows an archangel presenting a battle strategy to Kenny on a whiteboard while casually sniffing the marker he's using.
- "Guitar Queer-O": Stan plays a video game called "Heroin Hero", in which the only objective was to shoot up heroin and chase a dragon around.
Environmentalism and global warming
- "Rainforest Shmainforest" parodies environmental activism and portrays celebrity environmental activism as motivated by a desire to feel better about themselves.
- "Spontaneous Combustion" uses global warming as a source of trouble for the townspeople, caused by their own flatuence.
- "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow" and "ManBearPig" making fun of overreactions and doomsday predictions concerning global warming. ManBearPig is also more specifically a mockery of Al Gore.
- "Smug Alert!": Hybrid automobiles, while praised, nonetheless have owners who are touted as a source of "smug" (caused by the incredible selfish and self-centered behavior of their owners); San Francisco is considered as the "smug" capital, destroyed in a "smugstorm" à la The Perfect Storm.
- In "Terrance and Phillip: Behind the Blow" Earth Day people come to South Park. The Earth Day people utilize a jedi mind trick to make the townspeople not only believe that all they say is correct, while that which conservatives say is slander, but to also build for them a massive Earth Day celebration. When Stan says "My dad is a geologist and he says there actually isn't any concrete evidence of global warming", they answer "That's not true, global warming is going to kill us all. The Republicans are responsible".
Homosexuality and gay marriage
- Big Gay Al is used in several episodes and the movie to promote tolerance and acceptance for homosexuals.
- Mr. Garrison later comes out as gay for several seasons, and lives with Mr. Slave until he undergoes a sex change operation in "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina". Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave are later married in "Follow That Egg!". South Park parodies the real-life "civil union" compromise by proposing gay couples be allowed to have the same rights as married groups, but be called "butt buddies".
- The 2007 episode "Cartman Sucks" parodied and criticized the ex-gay movement, focusing on children whose parents force them to attend conversion therapy.
- Stan's dog 'Sparky', who is voiced by George Clooney, is gay, and humps other male dogs in "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride".
- In "The F Word (South Park)," the word faggot is used quite satirically to reference middle-aged men who ride Harley-Davidsons and even the homosexuals petition for the word's definition to be changed from meaning homosexuals to middle-aged bikies.
- In "A Ladder to Heaven", kittylitter is a collection of books.
- In "Pip", the book Great Expectations is parodied throughout.
- In "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs", books that (allegedly) cause the death of a major celebrity are often barred from sale. It is also a fact that if an author finds success, people will always assume that the written work contains hidden meanings.
- Every author is obsessed with receiving approval from Oprah Winfrey, especially Towelie.
- "Starvin' Marvin in Space": Christian missionaries and Pat Robertson attempt to cajole Starvin Marvin's people and the Marklar into accepting their faith. This episode in general portrays missionaries in a rather unfavorable manner, as when the missionary character attempts to get the Africans to read the Bible. "Remember, reading the Bible plus accepting Jesus equals FOOD", suggesting that the Christians would have let the emaciated Africans starve if they did not convert.
- "Are You There God? It's Me, Jesus" addresses the Year 2000 hype/hysteria and introduces God (in a non-stereotypical visage) to the series.
- "Super Best Friends" has the key members of the world's faiths join together to fight a cult.
- Christian rock music is the subject of "Christian Rock Hard": Cartman attempts to start a Christian Rock band as a scheme to win a bet with Kyle.
- "Red Hot Catholic Love" parodies the Catholic sex abuse scandal (the town's pastor is seen trying to convert other Catholic priests from molestation) and the separation of church and state as demanded by atheists.
- Cartman Sucks features Butters' stay in a Christian conversion therapy camp, where he, completely oblivious to the euphemisms used to designate homosexuality ("confusion", "bi-curious"), witnesses suicides and the psychological pressure applied on homosexual children. The episode ends with Butters realizing that "If I'm bi-curious and I'm made from God, then I think your God must be a little bi-curious too."
- "All About the Mormons?" chronicles the arrival of a Mormon family in South Park, and lampoons the story of Joseph Smith. Yet in conclusion to the episode, Gary, Stan's Mormon friend, tells Stan, "Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life. and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don't care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. And even though people in this town might think that's stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you're so high and mighty you couldn't look past my religion and just be my friend back. You've got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls".
- "Bloody Mary" was criticized for its portrayal of a Virgin Mary statue as bleeding from her anus (later found out to be from her vagina, as declared by Pope Benedict XVI in the episode). It also addressed the religious origins of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" and "Probably" depicts Stan, Cartman, and Kenny being frightened by the town Priest's descriptions of hell and those who are headed there. Determined to save their souls and those of their friends, including Kyle, a Jew and Timmy, who is mentally handicapped, they seek out advice from the local clergy. When the boys find the priest having sex in the confessional, they decide to make their own church aimed at salvation. They continue this course until it is revealed that Cartman, in an obvious nod to televangelism, only did it to make ten million dollars, and Jesus shows up to bring an end to Cartman's prosperity gospel church. The episode pokes fun at charismatic evangelicals.
- Scientology is the subject of "Trapped in the Closet" where Stan is declared the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard.
- "Go God Go" and sequel, "Go God Go XII" attempt to show that atheism can be just as radical as religion. In the future, all religion has been destroyed by Richard Dawkins and Mrs. Garrison and everyone is atheist in hopes that reason will prevent war. However, fanaticism nonetheless grows and there are several warring factions trying to decide whose logic is correct in determining their name. They also use 'Science' as an alternative to 'God' as a curse, e.g. 'Science Damn You', 'Science H Logic!'.
- In "Fantastic Easter Special", the episode suggested (lampooning The Da Vinci Code) that Saint Peter was a rabbit and that God wanted all the popes to be rabbits so they'd keep their mouths shut.
- "Canada on Strike": A husband and wife driving are witness to Ike holding a sign: "Honk if you support Canada", the husband honks twice, and upon his wife confirming to him "Oh, we're supporting unions" he states to her "That's right; we're a very progressive couple", and later "Well we've done our good deed for the week. I think now I can make love to your anus without making God angry".
- "Imaginationland Episode III": Within a plead to US generals not to "nuke our imagination" despite it having gone wild in the Pentagon's Operation Imagination Doorway, Kyle states that "I mean, whether Jesus is real or not, he... he's had a bigger impact on the world than any of us have. And the same could be said of Bugs Bunny and, a-and Superman and Harry Potter. They've changed my life, changed the way I act on the Earth. Doesn't that make them kind of 'real'. They might be imaginary, but, but they're more important than most of us here. And they're all gonna be around long after we're dead. So in a way, those things are more realer than any of us"
- "Ginger Cow": Cartman's prank, dressing a cow as a "ginger", fools Christians, Muslims, and Jews into thinking its a doomsday prophecy. They come together in peace and harmony, while Cartman blackmails Kyle to hide the truth to keep the peace going.
- "Trapper Keeper": The kindergarten class votes for Class President; satire on the 2000 U.S. presidential election and the inclusion of many famous figures (especially Rosie O'Donnell) only further complicating issues.
- "Douche and Turd": the school votes for a new mascot, and P. Diddy terrorizes the cast into voting; satire on the 2004 U.S. presidential election. This episode essentially depicts the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as being not particularly desirable (a douche and a turd sandwich). When Stan points out that there isn't any point in voting if the only options are a douche and a turd, at the end it is pointed out that most elections that will ever occur will be between a douche and a turd.
- The concept of political correctness is criticized in "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo", "Chef Goes Nanners", "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000", and other episodes.
Saddam Hussein, 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Iraq War
- In Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus and onward, Saddam tries to take over Canada, becomes Satan's lover in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, in future episodes is caught trying to manufacture weapons of mass destruction in Heaven, and is eventually captured in "It's Christmas in Canada" (after the real life one was captured in Iraq).
- The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and September 11 attacks are used as backgrounds for "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants".
- The Iraq War is also premised or discussed in "Red Sleigh Down".
- In "I'm a Little Bit Country", war protesters are portrayed as needing the war supporters so that the United States would not become weak and unable to defend itself from attack, while war supporters are shown as needing the war protesters so the U.S. would not seem like a power hungry or tyrannical government. The theory was discovered by Cartman (in a flashback) to have originated from the founding fathers, who referred to it as "having your cake and eating it too".
- "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" discusses and parodies many of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, which are showed as being created by the government in an effort to appear to have power over the events.
Daniel Synder and the "Redskins" Episode
- "Conjoined Fetus Lady" and "Timmy 2000" address the acceptance of people with disabilities.
- "Proper Condom Use" addresses the teaching of sexual education in schools with a Mad Max 2-esque storyline.
- "Sexual Harassment Panda" addresses frivolous lawsuits - especially those against public institutions, because the public's money is your money.
- "Here Comes the Neighborhood" lampoons Class hate with allusions to racism by pitting townspeople who happen be white against "richers" who happen be black.
- "Gnomes" addresses corporate take over of small businesses, and teaches that America was founded on free enterprise and capitalism.
- "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" has a subplot about Kyle and his father having both self and body image problems with themselves not being perfect. They refuse to accept their physical appearance (Kyle not being tall black and Gerald not being and wanting to be a dolphin) and they used cosmetic surgery to "help" the problem.
- "Night of the Living Homeless" addresses homelessness with a storyline similar to George Romero's Living Dead series.
- "Butters' Bottom Bitch" points out the social disadvantages to prostitution being illegal, and proposes an alternate system wherein prostitutes need not suffer abuse and instead receive housing and health care.
- "Whale Whores" addresses the subject matter of Japanese whaling.
- "The Hobbit" also addresses body and self-image issues as well as the views of a world with programs like Photoshop.