Using Satire In Real World Issues

Two weeks ago, the animated television series, “South Park” premiered season 20. This of course would be considered a milestone for any television series, but I feel it is extra special for “South Park.”

Due to the show’s vulgar content, it has been the constant subject of controversy.

South Park is at its root a satire, and a really good one at that. Underneath the constant vulgarity and toilet humor there is usually a very smartly written social commentary. What makes this better is the show lampoons everyone and everything ranging from our three most current presidents, 9/11 and to every religion.

The show is unbiased in its targets and no target is too sacred for the show.

“South Park’s” no-holds style is possibly the greatest symbol of freedom of speech and its intentional purpose. The show is able to have people think and converse about real current issues.

A big example is the episode, Best Friends Forever where Kenny is in a vegetative state and his friends debate whether to pull the feeding tube that keeps him alive. This episode was a reference to the Terri Schiavo case where Schiavo was in the same vegetative state, and was the subject of a media circus. The brilliance of the episode is while they in the end favored removing the tube, the episode was still able to criticize the giant media state made out of the issue, and even hinted that some proponents of removing the feeding tube were just supporting it for political gain. This episode was aired right after Schiavo’s tube was to be removed, and many cite the episode as a reason for shrinking the media circus.

The beauty of satire is that by getting its audience to laugh, it is also able to get the audience to think about real issues, and sometimes even get them to take action.

On John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”, Oliver did a segment about net neutrality and why it was important. Previous reports on net neutrality were bland and hard to understand, but Oliver’s simplification and hilarious description of net neutrality actually got people to care about a real issue.

As a result, over 40,000 US citizens complained to the FCC website, crashing the site. That right there is the greatest representation of the First Amendment and by using your voice to raise concern about an issue and getting people to do something about it.

Satire is our greatest form of action to voice our concerns because the heightened qualities of the situation motivate people to listen, and if there is strong critical commentary underneath, then it can actually inform a citizen.

There is one comment

Leave a Reply