I've never watched South Park, but now I wish I had. Featured on the Newsbusters.org site, a clip and partial transcript from a hilarious episode aired the other day lampooning the hysterical response to Hurricane Katrina. (Hat tip: Protein Wisdom.) Two of the boys, Stan and Cartman, accidentally crash a motor boat into a dam and cause the flooding of Beaverton, "home of the world's largest beaver dam." There ensues breathless media hype (Reporter:“We’re not sure what exactly is going on inside the town of Beaverton, Tom, but we’re reporting that there’s looting, raping and, yes, even acts of cannibalism.” Anchorman: “My God, you’ve actually seen people looting, raping and eating each other?!” Reporter: “No, no we’ve haven’t actually seen it, Tom. We’re just reporting it”) and political finger-pointing, as some of the citizens blame Bush ("George Bush doesn't care about beavers!") while others see the work of Al Qaeda terrorists ("they've been buiding beaver dam WMDs for years now")!
Kudos to the creators of South Park for creating a funny and smart episode (at least the roughly two and a half minutes I watched were funny and smart!) on a subject that doesn't easily lend itself to humor.
Check it out. Quite amusing, too, is the comments thread at Newsbusters where people are arguing about whether South Park is poking at conservatives or liberals. Is our culture so polarized that, for many people, "a plague on both your houses" doesn't resonate anymore?
Friday, October 21, 2005
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Considering the strong libertarian bent they have, I'd imagine it'd be both.
Is our culture so polarized that, for many people, "a plague on both your houses" doesn't resonate anymore?
Yes, it is.
I was trying to remember when this happened. I don't remember the rhetoric during Reagan's years being so polarized; yes, there were plenty of people who opposed the republicans then, but I don't remember the relentless classification of everybody and everything into left/right.
I think it must have started under Bush I, toward the end. Remember the militia movement? About then.
You really need to see the whole episode. It also takes on The Day After Tomorrow and global warming in general, it's brilliant.
No, independent-minded people LOVE South Park for its equal opportunity bashing. And the fact that its libertarian in many instances goes right over the head of lots of others.
South Park is often gross and tasteless, and goes over the line quite a bit. But that's necessary to make the political lampooning as funny as it is.
If you have a chance, be sure to catch the episode on the Iraq War schism, where Cartman travels back in time to learn from Benjamin Franklin that the genius of America is that democracy allows the US to go to war while at the same time appearing that it doesn't want to go to war.
Welcome to blogland, Cathy. I'm a fan, and often excerpt your columns over at centerfield, the centrist coalition's blog.
Thanks, bk! good comments. I'm thinking of getting me some South Park DVDs now.
And I'll be sure to check your blog!
I don't remember the rhetoric during Reagan's years being so polarized
It is easy to forget now, but Democrats loathed Reagan even more than they loathe Bush today.
National opinion was polarized, too, you just didn't see it on television because there were no significant media outlets, aside from the Wall Street Journal, that weren't pro-Democrat. You didn't see Democrat X screaming at Republican Y because Democrat X had a solo network news program and Republican Y was stuck writing surly opinion pieces for The National Review.
If you go back a few decades further, to when the media was less exclusively aligned with one political party, you'll see that partisan rhetoric was absurdly overheated back then, too.
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