Just the idea of Buddha, one of the most worshipped deities, being portrayed snorting coke, shows South Park has no limits when exploring controversial topics. Here are other irreverent moments they've given us.
Where do we start when talking about South Park? For starters, no matter how much controversy, hate, and threats it has received in the 21 years it's been on the air, they’ve never let anything silence them or tone down their content, and that is something praiseworthy. Another thing that’s great about the show is the clever and irreverent way they are constantly challenging us. Is that really funny, should I laugh at this, should I be offended by that? These are only a few questions that they’re constantly making us ask ourselves. No matter how great or how edgy your sense of humor is, at some point, you’ll feel confronted by your own points of view and ideas, and to be honest, that’s quite refreshing. The show is turning 21 in 2018, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to go back to their most controversial and envelope-pushing movements.
Buddha’s little problem
Well, as you got from the title, we had to start with what is perhaps one of the most controversial storylines of the entire series. After Tom Cruise decides to gather a group of people who have been ridiculed by the town of South Park, he reaches an agreement to drop a lawsuit against them, if the town helps him get Muhammad to do a public appearance. Stan and Kyle decide to go to the Super Best Friends (which had already appeared in a couple of episodes) formed by Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Laozi, Muhammad, and Joseph Smith. In one of the scenes, we see a calm Buddha snorting a couple of coke lines before Jesus nags him, claiming that his habit is turning into a serious problem, while Buddha retorts that it's not that different from Jesus’ taste for online porn.
The cure for HIV
There are some themes that have become absolute no-no’s for comedy and one of them is naturally HIV and AIDS. In this episode, Cartman gets HIV after he’s mistakenly infected through a blood transfusion. Kyle, who finds this is karma for Cartman’s bad behavior, starts mocking him. In revenge, while Kyle is asleep, Cartman decides to infect him by feeding him his infected blood. Soon, the two boys decide to find a cure, which they do in the basketball star Magic Johnson, who has been living with AIDS for years. They discover that money is the solution and they decide to inject themselves with it. Naturally, a very blunt comment on the AIDS crisis.
Dealing with immigrants
When Trump’s presidential campaign started, the creators of South Park saw this as a golden ticket. During the nineteenth season, things got irreverently political, with Mr. Garrison becoming the representation of Donald Trump. In one particular episode titled “Where my Country Gone?," Garrison realizes that a wave of Canadian immigrants has reached South Park, which makes him really angry. He decides to rally all over town against this immigration wave and proposes to literally “F**k em all to death” and then build a wall on the north to prevent more immigration. As you can imagine, this episode was censored in many countries.
Anything related to Scientology will always be controversial, but South Park basically exposed what many around the world had been thinking and wondering. In this episode cleverly called “Trapped in the Closet,” Stan joins the Scientologists to discover he’s the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology). Soon, all the important members of the religion appear in South Park to honor the new “Hubbard.” Stan walks into his room to find Tom Cruise, who asks him if he likes his acting, to which Stan replies he’s not bad but not good enough. Feeling he’s a failure for his leader, he decides to lock himself in Stan’s closet. The whole episode offers a very fantasy-like explanation of what Scientology is by mocking its foundations, to the point that Isaac Hayes (Chef’s voice and a Scientology member) quit the show.
Remember episodes 200 and 201, where Buddha appears a couple of times snorting cocaine? Well, that wasn’t the only controversial part of the episode. Actually, it was nothing compared to what the naming and “ridiculing” of Muhammad's appearance provoked. Muslim radicals sent a threatening message to the show, saying that if they dared to air the show, there would be severe consequences. What's amazing is that Muhammad had actually appeared on one episode of the fifth season (2001), where the Super Best Friends League is introduced. The threats and controversy ended up exposing what the episodes claimed: that censorship is stupid and incoherent.
Not that immaculate Mary
After being pulled over for drunk driving, Randy Marsh is sent to AA, where he’s told that his drinking is a disease. As it happens in South Park, Randy literally believes he has a terminal disease with no cure. By that time, in a local church, a statue of Virgin Mary starts bleeding from her butt, which makes people believe the statue can grant miracles. Full of hope, an emaciated Randy appears before the statue, and when the blood drenches his face, he claims he’s cured. Soon, even Pope Benedict XVI appears to inspect the statue, and after being drenched as well, discovers she’s not bleeding from her anus but from her vagina making it not a miracle but something all women experience. Of course, this enraged many Christians, who saw it as a huge offense. But actually, it’s a great comment on how blood and women have always been perceived.
As you can see, basically, there isn’t any taboo subject that the series hasn’t touched in the past 21 years. Hopefully, we’ll be able to laugh and be challenged by their edgy and irreverent humor for years to come.
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