With its sixteen seasons and over 250 episodes ‘South Park’ has some serious cultural impact on American society. “While confidence in media channels is lowering, the series is one of our guides. It is not just about the filthy jokes and the farts.”

Cheering for Obama

“The way Matt Stone and Trey Parker capture the American zeitgeist is very accurate”, says Brian Dunphy during his lecture on ‘South Park and the American Experience’ yesterday afternoon. To illustrate the show’s makers’ understanding of American society, Dunphy uses the episode that aired one day after the presidential elections of 2008. The entire episode is about Obama’s victory and people cheering on the streets like the way it really happened in November 2008. “The makers just knew Obama would be elected, there was no plan B episode if McCain had won the presidential elections.”

At the end of the episode Stan’s father Randy, who was crazy about the victory at first, wakes up without a job, poor and totally disappointed with Obama’s promises of change. That’s exactly what we saw during the president’s term, people getting crazy about the promise of change and hope, but ending up disappointed after a few years. Dunphy: “The episode predicted that already on the first day after the elections.”

“Equal opportunity offenders”

What about the American Experience? In what way does South Park contribute to American Society? According to Dunphy, the show is part of the Fifth Estate. Bloggers, satirists and comedians are taking over the traditional role of the media, while confidence in and reliability of media channels is declining. “South Park’s makers are sometimes called ‘equal opportunity offenders’. They ridicule and offend everyone, from every ideological corner”, says Dunphy. More importantly, the show is all about controversy. It shows us a mirror of society and our daily behavior in society and does that from every point of view. “South Park is more accurate than CNN, it is more accurate than any news channel.”

Did you miss yesterday’s lecture? Here you can watch a similar one. TF