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HIt me, babY: Culinary Arts Club President Dan Ricks looks none the worse for being pelted with tomatoes on the Quad. Click Arts&Life for a link to more photos. / Photo by Mikaylie Kartchner

Today's word on journalism

Friday, September 1, 2006

"[F]ew things are as much a part of our lives as the news. With the advent of sophisticated mass communication, the news has become a sort
of instant historical record of the pace, progress, problems, and the hopes of society. On the other hand--and here's the puzzle -- the news provides, at best, a superficial and distorted image of society. . . . The puzzle, simply put, is this: How can anything so superficial be so central to our lives?"

--W. Lance Bennett, political science professor, 1988

Offensive, drawn, and somewhat political -- that's 'South Park'

By Ben Gertz

May 1, 2006 | The show's characters range from a marijuana smoking towel to a giant stone John Wilkes Booth, which has caught the attention of a variety of viewers.

Since its beginning, Comedy Central's South Park has been under constant scrutiny as its creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, attack virtually every topic.

"They just go too far, I can see where the show is funny, but they are just too offensive," said Matt Liechty, a junior majoring in economics.

The show's offensive nature and political commentary has recently won a Peabody Award for its spoof of the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. The controversy surrounding the show many times hides its message.

"This show really is amazing; the guys who made this show are really good at showing both sides of a debate and then settling somewhere in the middle," said Kile Fischer, a network specialist at Cache County School District.

Fisher said he has slowly become a fan of South Park over the years. He found a similarity between his conservative background and the message of the show. Fisher isn't the only one.

In 2001, Andrew Sullivan coined the term "South Park Republican" on his Internet blog. This term grew in popularity as more and more people found they also agreed with the messages of the show.

Almost every South Park episode, recently, has been receiving media attention.

"I am amazed when I see gossip about South Park headlining CNN's Web site," said Jesse Mace a freshman majoring in electrical engineering.

Recent controversies over Tom Cruise, Scientology and even Muhammad have been covered by all major news agencies.

These episodes have led to banned episodes, censorship from Comedy Central and even a cast member quitting the show.

Isaac Hayes, composer for the 1971 film Shaft, quit after an episode that attacked Scientology. Hayes was the voice for one of South Park's best known characters, Chef.

"It was a shock to see Isaac Hayes leave," said Fisher "Next to Butters, Chef was my favorite character."

Hayes' quitting has sent shockwaves through fan sites. The topic has been highly debated and has left a lot of people confused. The members of Web sites such as, which has 3,000 registered members, have lengthy discussions about the whole situation.

South Park has created a large community of people from all different backgrounds. No other sitcom show has had an impact such as South Park has.

"I can't wait to see what they are going to do next," said Fisher.

Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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