Esquire Malaysia, December 2014
Respect Their Authori-tah!
The controversial animated series has finally reached our shores, so prepare to be offended.
By Sophia Goh
We’ve all heard the saying “better late than never”, but when it comes to television, is there such a thing as “so late you might as well not bother”? Perhaps, but not in this case – because South Park has finally made its way to us! Now in its 18th season, the notoriously irreverent, crudely animated (by today’s standards), yet very clever series has made its Malaysian debut on Comedy Central HD, which is available on HyppTV.
Co-created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park launched in 1997, and is actually based on an animated short titled The Spirit of Christmas. Featuring four very foul-mouthed, troublemaking boys – Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick – it is set in a small town of the same name in the Colorado Rockies. But its location doesn’t seem to deter a host of famous people from paying a visit, from Al Gore and Oprah to Elton John and Kanye West. And nothing stops the show from lampooning current affairs in its signature un-politically correct, often offensive manner.
If you’ve never watched South Park, now is a good time to start. The series has, inevitably, evolved over the past 17 seasons, losing some fans along the way while gaining others; but its longevity warrants a viewing or three. On that note, here are three random facts about the show:
1. Parker and Stone couldn’t have done it without a man named Brian Graden.
The Spirit of Christmas was actually a video Christmas card that Parker and Stone created for FoxLab executive Brian Graden. He hired the duo after he saw an animated short called Jesus vs Frosty that they had made when they were both at the University of Colorado. The Spirit of Christmas was a five-minute short that had Santa Claus and Jesus fighting to the death over who would get to control the Christmas holiday (spoiler: they ultimately settled on a truce). The video made the rounds, one thing led to another, and before long, there was South Park.
2. There’s a real-life Kenny.
The character of Kenny McCormick is best known for his orange parka, and for dying in almost every episode in the first five seasons of the series. Like many of the characters in South Park, he is based on a real person – one of Parker’s childhood friends. Back in 2000, Parker revealed that his friend Kenny was actually the poorest kid in the neighbourhood, and always wore an orange parka that made it difficult for people to understand what he was saying. Kenny would apparently skip school from time to time, and the other kids would joke that he had died.
3. George Clooney was willing to do anything to be on South Park.
When he inquired about guest-starring on South Park in season one, Parker and Stone leapt at the opportunity, offering Clooney the role of Stan’s dog, Sparky, in the episode “Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride”. As it turned out, he was very good at barking.