Comedy Central's Censorship of South Park Doomed the Show | Fanboys Anonymous

Comedy Central's Censorship of South Park Doomed the Show

Posted by Unknown Monday, August 25, 2014
As the 18th season of the long-running animated comedy show South Park nears, let us look back a few years and examine what happened when the legendary show hit their epic 200th episode, appropriately titled "200", and its direct sequel, "201". The controversy has had lasting ramifications on the show and been a contributing factor to the current downswing in quality. When Comedy Central bleeped and censored the episodes, they crimped Matt Stone and Trey Parker's creativity and doomed the future of South Park.

south park has jumped the shark in show quality after censorship
It's my suspicion this capitulation on the part of Comedy Central has slowly eroded Matt and Trey's creativity and hunger to do edgy topics and push the envelope. They have stated that after the episode aired in its altered form, they didn't even want to do the next episode. The writing duo was worn out and exhausted from the whole ordeal. It's sad, frustrating, and troubling that a warning from a Muslim extremist group not to air an animated depiction of Muhammad would lead to violent retaliation and that the network caved to the pressure.

As difficult as it is to blame them too much, as this situation would scare anyone, it is also painful to see a once brilliant show become so mediocre. Last year's season 17 was horrid, with only one or two funny episodes, where before almost all of them were great. They have also cut it from the standard 14 episodes per season down to 10, and you can see the air deflating for Matt and Trey. Sure, they have other commitments these days like their Broadway show Book of Mormon, but the enthusiasm for their original baby South Park has faded.

South Park has become safe, and to borrow a favorite word of Eric Cartman, lame. The creators are too worried about offending people to push things like they have in the past. Trust me, when you speak your mind and are as outspoken as these two are, the blowback begins to wear on you after a while. As an artist, a creative force, you begin to second guess your choices and the possible consequences of making those choices. It's a horrible, agonizing way to work. 

I think most of us encounter political correctness in our daily lives, and it makes me grind my teeth in frustration. What's so infuriating with episodes "200" and "201" is that they are brilliant celebrations of a great show and demonstrate what Matt and Trey are so good at, but because of the censorship, we may never see it as they intended.

The boys issued this statement before "201" aired:

"In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We'll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we'll see what happens to it."

comedy central censorship of south park
Extremist Muslims are frightening, no doubt, and I can understand the network wanting to protect their people and themselves from potential harm. But they destroyed their flagship show and killed the creativity of the creators. The two episodes that were meant to celebrate the past 199 episodes have been tarnished. What Matt and Trey described as a "clip show without being a clip show" was an amazing look back and also a great story, using past references as story beats instead of throwing away garbage as most clip shows would be; loose ends with who Cartman's dad is, his evil past catching up to him, characters we loved but maybe forgot about, and a deep, compelling visual treatise on violence and caving to political pressure. All this was buried by censorship.

I'll sign off with everyone's full speeches at the end of "201" that Comedy Central bleeped out:

Kyle: That's because there is no goo, Mr. Cruise. You see, I learned something today. Throughout this whole ordeal, we've all wanted to show things that we weren't allowed to show, but it wasn't because of some magic goo. It was because of the magical power of threatening people with violence. That's obviously the only true power. If there's anything we've all learned, it's that terrorizing people works.

Jesus: That's right. Don't you see, gingers, if you don't want to be made fun of anymore, all you need are guns and bombs to get people to stop.

Santa: That's right, friends. All you need to do is instill fear and be willing to hurt people and you can get whatever you want. The only true power is violence.

Do you agree? Has the show dipped in quality since season 14, and was the censorship of these episodes at least partially responsible? Sound off below.

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