From Superhero Movies To Scientology: ‘South Park’ Is The Comedy King Of Satire

The absurdity of the world we live in often requires satire to hold up a mirror to ongoing events. While political commentary is necessary and useful, comedy often exaggerates current affairs beyond the realm of possibility to provide an outlet that highlights societal issues, while at the same time making us laugh.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have used their outlet of South Park to provide a rich, vulgar, but ultimately relevant commentary for almost two decades. The game in the franchise, South Park: Fracture But Whole (hehe) was no different. The trailer itself pokes unrelenting fun at the superhero genre, mocking both Marvel, DC and the industry as a whole.

Often thought of as a controversial show, South Park is saturated with serious issues, often tackled in a delicately crude manner. Like it or not, the adult cartoon knows exactly what buttons to press to ignite debate.

To celebrate the E3 announcement, let’s take a look at moments when Stone and Parker nailed the social commentary in South Park:

1. “All About Mormons”

Gary and Stan
Gary and Stan

Season 7, episode 12

The show’s apparent critique of the culture of Mormons is a great illustration of balancing both sides of the story. Drawn heavily from the experiences of Parker and Stone, the show infused flashbacks to the 19th century with the story of a mormon family arriving to South Park.

As well as mocking the origin of the Latter Day Saint movement, the episode also ended up fitting monologue from son of the family, Gary, who highlights that if religion is used to form the basis of good morals, there really is no harm.

2. “The Passion Of The Jew”

Kyle watching Passion of the Christ
Kyle watching Passion of the Christ

Season 8, episode 3

The episode serves as satire toward Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ (2004), the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life which found itself draped in controversy. In the episode, Kyle, who is mocked by the others for being Jewish himself, watches the film and is disturbed at its content.

The episode received praise for its critique of the movie, with Jewish newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward calling it “the most biting critique” of the film, as well as approval from the Anti-Defamation League.

3. “With Apologies To Jesse Jackson”

Season 11, episode 1

Opening with Randy’s racial slur while appearing on Wheel of Fortune, the episode focuses on the use of the “n” word (the word is even said 42 times during the show) and the strong repercussions that it can have, largely told through the character of Token.

Considering the tension surrounding the topic, South Park was praised by Abolish the “N” Word for its depiction of how the work can effect individuals.

4. “Le Petit Tourette”

Cartman in 'Le Petit Tourette'

Cartman in ‘Le Petit Tourette’

Season 11, episode 8

Tourette’s syndrome was the subject in question for this episode, when Cartman feigns the neuropsychiatric disorder in an attempt to get away with saying what he likes.

In what was a huge compliment to the show, the Tourette Association of America admitted that why they expected the show to be insensitive. However, upon viewing the episode, they said:

“The episode was surprisingly well-researched. The highly exaggerated emphasis on coprolalia notwithstanding, for the attentive viewer, there was a surprising amount of accurate information conveyed.”

5. “Trapped In The Closet”

Season 9, episode 12

Scientology is in itself a contentious topic, and there were no reservations when Stone and Parker decided to shine a light on the religion during this Emmy nominated episode. At times, a disclaimer stated “this is what Scientologists actually believe” to highlight events were not satire.

The fallout and discussion following the episode was significant; famous Scientologist Tom Cruise was alleged to have tried to prevent any repeats, and Isaac Haynes — who played Chef on the show and was a Scientologist himself — quit the show as a direct result.

What are your favorite satirical South Park moments?


Staff Writer at MP. It ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.