South Park Confidential


The latest ish of Rolling Stone has a profile of South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who were Reason's own cover boys for our December 2006 issue.

Some snippets regarding SP and politics:

It's also the most ideologically opaque political show on television, fostering an open-ended dialogue on difficult questions like whether one has a duty to obey unfair laws or if there is a God in an evil world. Unlike The Simpsons, which is intellectual and pleasantly dumb in its portrayal of American life, using both to further a leftist agenda, South Park offers simple parables—often with an optimistic message—to take aim at all issues without ever showing its hand. "If Matt and Trey came out and said what they were about, all of a sudden people would watch the show with a map," says Penn Jillette, a close friend. "But you shouldn't have a map to look at during the ride. You must trust the art and not the artist. They'll never say what they're about."…

Most of South Park's humor either advocates radical individualism (everyone is stupid, so don't listen to anyone but yourself) and/or a conservative agenda (this is a great country, and you're a pussy if you're down in the mouth about President Bush). Neither Stone nor Parker will delineate his political views, and both contend that the libertarian label, which has been applied to them in recent years, is not entirely appropriate….Neither votes—"like, ever," says Stone. Parker waves a hand in the air. "Each election is a choice with a douche or a turd, so who cares," he says. "If Gore had beaten Bush, things wouldn't be much different."

While Stone is in fact deeply immersed in politics and a serious reader of nonfiction books about the Middle East, I practically have to wrestle him to hear a smidge of his politics: He's against the War on Drugs, pro-gay marriage, against socialized medicine and basically in favor of free markets, except in cases like dropping public funding for roads or education.

The whole thing here.

I think Penn Jillette–a good friend of Reason, btw; check out these two mindblowing interviews we've done with him here and here–is right that these guys are artists first and foremost (and it remains way beyond impressive how their edge has dulled not at all in a decade of mirthmaking). As Stone put it to Reason, "South Park has a lot of politics in it, but ultimately we want to make a funny show and a good show."

That said, there's a consistent politics to South Park that is best understood, I think, as pre-political. That is, it's not about right-wing or left-wing, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democratic, ad nauseam. Rather, it's a sentiment that is much more basic and informs other affiliations. As Matt Stone, who said that libertarian is "an apt description for me personally," told Reason:

I had Birkenstocks in high school. I was that guy. And I was sure that those people on the other side of the political spectrum were trying to control my life. And then I went to [University of Colorado at] Boulder and got rid of my Birkenstocks immediately, because everyone else had them and I realized that these people over here want to control my life too. I guess that defines my political philosophy. If anybody's telling me what I should do, then you've got to really convince me that it's worth doing.

Read Reason's interview with South Park (which, incidentally, is the single-highest traffic piece we've ever run online).