In a world of constant war, endless "economic recoveries," and only two years left of Joe Biden gaffes, it's hard to be upbeat about the future. I mean, what kind of joyless world are we leaving for our children?
So thank Xenu—or Richard Dawkins—for South Park, which starts its 18th incredible season tonight at 10 p.m. eastern time on Comedy Central. What's more, original episodes of the show will continue through at least 2016, meaning the next presidential election will be covered the way it should be: with scabrous humor….
South Park is that rarest of birds: an envelope-pushing commercial success. In a new Daily Beast column, I argue that Trey Parker and Matt Stone's creation is qualitatively different that past TV standouts:
Classic TV shows such as I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Cheers, and even the path-breaking Seinfeld all provoked laughs that made the world disappear for a half-hour. South Park is not just funnier than any of those shows—it refuses to let us escape the god-forsaken world in which we live. Indeed, episode after episode (glorious, full list here) rubs our noses in the ugliness of our world, whether it be caused by terrorists, legally elected politicians, insufferable atheists, ultra-pious and delusional businessmen, idiot celebrities, or our own love of fast food and video games.
Even better, South Park not only allows us to laugh at the darkness rising all around us—it also teaches us to navigate the endless slurry of bullshit firehosed at our faces in the so-called Information Age. God help us all, but South Park is more educational than all the endless hours of Sesame Street or Between the Lions that ever aired or will ever air on PBS. It teaches us all real media literacy, how to identify and spot phony philosophizing, moral panics, and self-interested crusades a mile way.