America has never been particularly comfortable with satire. A gentle poke at the powers that be is allowed, even encouraged — witness the success of good-natured softies like Jon Stewart অথবা The Simpsons, nudging decency in the ribs and tipping a wink to the audience. But genuine, hard-hitting satire is frowned upon: somebody might really be offended, and nowhere in the Constitution does it allow for that. There’s no American equivalent of British figures like Peter Cook অথবা Christopher Morris, authentic anti- establishment comics who nonetheless achieved mainstream success. Even so—called ‘dangerous’ American figures like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor kept their comedy largely personal. Topics like religious extremism, sexual abuse, disability, and AIDS, প্রশ্ন on the efficacy of democracy অথবা America’s role in history and the world, these were never acceptable topics for comedy in any mainstream venue.

Until in 1997, an animated প্রদর্শনী began that would eventually break all boundaries of accepted decency on television, and manage over the course of ten years to offend just about every living person on the globe, including me. There are moments of true horror in South Park, প্রতিমূর্তি and viewpoints so extreme আপনি can almost hear the complain and creak of boundaries being stretched. But there’s also clear-headed insight and inarguable intelligence, a bull-headed determination to resist censorship, and a quality of লেখা unparalleled in American comedy.

Like its precursor The Simpsons, South Park’s rise to fame was meteoric. দ্বারা the show’s সেকেন্ড বড়দিন in 1998 the must-have toys were figurines of the four central characters, and Isaac Hayes’ single in character as Chef, ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’, went straight to No. 1 in the UK charts. I was working in a Virgin Megastore that year, and the sheer quantity of South Park merchandise was astounding — the fluffy dolls, the books, the CD’s, Eric Cartman mousemats, Big Gay Al keyrings. Very quickly, the প্রদর্শনী became the modern equivalent of the Richard Pryor and Derek & Clive albums of the 1970’s, অথবা Eddie Murphy’s Delirious and Raw on VHS in the 1980’s — something for pre-adolescent boys to sneak off and enjoy furtively, for teenagers and students to flaunt as a badge of rebellion and cultural savvy. One had to wonder whether the parents (and especially the grandparents) who shelled out for this avalanche of filth-based memorabilia knew exactly what they were buying—there was a daycare centre near my house called South Park Nursery, with hardwood cutouts of the four main characters proudly displayed in the front garden. Had the proprietors even watched the show, অথবা did they just see four cute, জনপ্রিয় cartoon characters and run with it?

The irony was that, again mirroring The Simpsons, the প্রদর্শনী in its early stages was fairly unremarkable. South Park fever was driven দ্বারা controversy and দ্বারা the shock of the new—we’d never heard cartoon characters talk like this before, at least not on prime time TV. Gay সারমেয় and anal probes, obscenity and casual racism, broad swipes at celebrity culture and political hypocrisy, an endless, gushing torrent of scatological humour. Another predominant facet of the show’s appeal was the rough-and-ready nature of its presentation — the shoddy but intriguing content warning (‘this show… should not be watched দ্বারা ANYONE’), the cookie-cutter animation, which might have been constructed in somebody’s garden shed. It was DIY, punk rock, three chords and no frills. But it was also rather formless, uncertain, eager to please but lacking in confidence, and exhaustively lowbrow — there are only so many times আপনি can find farting funny, eventually it just becomes tiresome (though, as the writers were keen to point out, if আপনি keep doing it sooner অথবা later it becomes funny again. বৃত্ত of life). দ্বারা the end of the সেকেন্ড season the novelty was wearing off, and although the প্রদর্শনী had amassed a solid fanbase the prevailing wisdom was that South Park was, at heart, adolescent filth, amusing in its way but essentially forgettable. And in some quarters this perception holds today: in the UK the প্রদর্শনী hasn’t been প্রদত্ত a prime time slot in over five years.

It was the release and subsequent critical and commercial success of the show’s feature film spinoff, the unimaginatively titled South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut, in 1999 that heralded the show’s artistic rebirth. The film marked a quantum leap অগ্রবর্তী as writers for Parker and Stone, thrusting the show’s satirical aspects to centre stage, as an argument over censorship provokes a land war between the U.S. and Canada. For the first time the creators recognised that just because the প্রদর্শনী could be intelligent and provocative didn’t mean they had to tone down the fart jokes—in fact, the one complemented the other. The film’s critical success also proved that the key to long term success would have to be actual creative development. South Park didn’t just have to be funnier, it had to be better—the অ্যানিমেশন would have to advance, the characters would have to be আরো clearly defined, with real goals and recognisable traits, likes and dislikes. The প্রদর্শনী would have to work on multiple levels simultaneously, even if it meant alienating those adolescent অনুরাগী who tuned in every week just for the swearing.

The improvement was instantaneous. The first episode of South Park’s third season, ‘Rainforest Schmainforest’, uses a now familiar Parker/ Stone ploy, taking a well established socio-political truism (in this case ‘rainforests are good’) and turning it on it’s head: how would all those tree-hugging hippies who ramble on about saving the rainforest feel if they were actually হারিয়ে গেছে in one? And as the season continues the quality barely dips, taking on the religious right in ‘Starvin’ Marvin in Space’, meaningless toy fads in ‘Chinpokomon’, combining a commentary on small-town small-mindedness and homophobia with a dig at the ATF post-Waco in ‘Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub’.

For the পরবর্তি five years the প্রদর্শনী scarcely faltered, gaining in confidence and taking on larger and আরো hazardous subjects—religion and disability in ‘Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?’, racism and recrimination in ‘The Death Camp of Tolerance’ and ‘Cartman’s Silly Hate Crime’, the 2004 election in ‘Douche and Turd’, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in ‘I’m a Little Bit Country’, ‘Red Sleigh Down’ and ‘Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants’, which scrutinized the ongoing conflict through the filter of WW2 propaganda, particularly those outrageous buck-toothed Bugs Bunny anti-Japanese cartoons. But amidst all the crusading, there has always been মহাকাশ for gentler episodes which let the kids just act their age — setting out on a dangerous quest in ‘The Return of the Lord of the Rings to the Two Towers’, using a cool Island song to persuade George Lucas not to recut Raiders of the হারিয়ে গেছে Ark in ‘Free Hat’, being bored to tears দ্বারা Cirque du Soleil in ‘Quintuplets’.

For these six seasons South Park stood head and shoulders above all other American comedy, animated অথবা otherwise. If nothing else, the প্রদর্শনী was simply funnier than anything else on offer, joke-for-joke perhaps the finest comedy the country has ever produced, thanks to a combination of supreme লেখা and a willingness (and licence) to say things no one else would get away with saying. Trying to narrow down a তালিকা of worthy উদ্ধৃতি to illustrate the genius of South Park is no easy task. One thinks of Jennifer Lopez গান গাওয়া to her fiancé “I প্রণয় আপনি Ben, আপনি almost make me forget about Tacos”: offensive on so many levels, it’s also comedy approaching genius. অথবা the moment Krishna turns into a বীবর so that he can chop wood for Jesus, Master Carpenter, to build a mould for a giant stone John Wilkes Booth which Mohammed can bake dry with his fire-hands and Lao Tzu can bring to life with the power of his mind. অথবা the mountain lion cubs scampering joyfully around the spreadeagled legs of a young mother as they learn to perform abortions so that they can prevent the impending birth of the Antichrist. অথবা Santa Claus in an Iraqi prison (“you shocked Santa’s balls!”), অথবা Towelie the permanently stoned, genetically engineered towel, অথবা the Native American comedy club (“HA- hahaha HA- hahaha”), অথবা any of the many, many times Cartman starts singing. In fact, Trey Parker may be the first comic since the heyday of Monty পাইথন to consistently write effective, humorous songs, in a seemingly inexhaustible range of styles (a far cry from The Simpsons’ repetitive Broadway showtune addiction). There’s the Christian rock stylings of Faith +1 (“Gonna get down on my knees and start pleasin’ Jesus…”), the hi-NRG chart pop of Fingerbang (“I want to finger bang-bang আপনি into my life”), from backwoods bluegrass (“You do a line and I’ll do a line, honey”) and shimmering 30’s Noel Coward সঙ্গীত hall jazz (“I’ve got something in my front pocket for you”) to an entire folk-rock musical about the adventures of a lemming stuck up Mr. Slave’s ass. Best of all are the pastiches of জনপ্রিয় artists, like the aforementioned J- Lo with টাকো Flavoured Kisses, অথবা Alan Jackson’s attempts to cash in on 9/11 with his unique brand of heart-tugging country pop (“Where were yew… when they built that ladder to heaven? Did it make আপনি feel proud, অথবা did আপনি think it was kinda gay?”)

But the প্রদর্শনী has other strengths—over the years the অ্যানিমেশন has improved immeasurably (to the chagrin of some purists), and the character development has been equally successful, resulting in the inexorable rise of one of the most complex and terrifying psychopaths in টেলিভিশন history – Eric Cartman. his single-minded pursuit of his own selfish goals was played largely for laughs throughout the first few seasons – he was the mean-spirited fat kid, spoiled and self-absorbed but essentially harmless. There were moments of concern—the relish he took whenever a flicker of authority came his way, his willingness to ইঁদুর out his বন্ধু even when his own life was in danger. But then Season Five kicked off with ‘Scott Tenorman Must Die’, and the rules were changed forever. In this episode Cartman, faced with continuous humiliation দ্বারা his nemesis, the eponymous 6th Grader, develops the most heinous of all revenge strategies, and executes it with cold and flawless precision- Scott’s parents are lured to a remote field, murdered, cooked into chilli and fed to Scott at a chilli cookoff to which Scott’s favourite band, Radiohead, have also been invited. The episode ends with Radiohead leaving in disgust at the ‘little cry-baby’, as Cartman licks the tears from Scott Tenorman’s face:

CARTMAN: Yummy, yummy, আপনি guys. The tears of unfathomable sadness!

Since the Scott Tenorman incident, Cartman’s psychosis has only deepened, from having his left hand possessed দ্বারা Jennifer Lopez (and runaway con artist Mitch Connors) to attempted murder with a whiffle-ball bat when Kyle threatens to ইঁদুর him out.

Stan and Kyle act largely as proxy characters for the show’s creators, though each has developed throughout the show’s run. Now freed from the Machiavellian clutches of Wendy Testaburger, Stan has become the moral centre, firm in his beliefs even when the world is falling apart around him. Kyle is the focus of doubt in the show, always plagued দ্বারা guilt and questions, willing to follow anyone who promises to rid him of a yawning inner emptiness. Parker and Stone’s depiction of childish fear and ignorance is heartfelt, and often acts as a welcome counterpoint to the wider issues up for discussion: celebrated episode ‘The Passion of the Jew’, which deals with the প্রশ্ন of anti-Semitism in Mel Gibson’s যীশু film, would lack much of its impact if it weren’t filtered through the guilt- ridden eyes of Kyle, who comes to believe that his people really do owe the world an apology for killing Christ.

Then there’s a ভেলা of classic supporting characters, from decent, down-to-earth folks like Chef, Mr. Mackie, and Jesus, to bug-eyed lunatics like Officer Barbrady and Mr. (now Mrs.) Garrison. Of the parents, Randy Marsh is the most convincingly developed as a character, his seething homosexual leanings and boyband past hidden beneath a thin veneer of familial respectability and barely controlled alcoholism. The kids, দ্বারা contrast, are relatively normal — even initially stereotyped characters like handicapped standup Jimmy and paranoid Tweek become part of the gang in due course. The most memorable has to be Butters, the lovable innocent, perhaps the most unfortunate and put upon character on টেলিভিশন — in one episode alone (‘Good Times with Weapons’) he is severely wounded in the eye with a throwing star, covered in hair and glue, disguised as a dog and abandoned in the snow before being mistaken for an actual dog and thrown into an animal shelter where he’s repeatedly peed and shat on. In other episodes he’s sold to Paris Hilton দ্বারা his parents, exposed to pornography so hardcore that he loses his mind, is locked in an underground fallout shelter for a week and forced to wear false testicles on his face so he can go on daily talk shows.

BUTTERS: I always fall asleep to the sound of my own screams. Then I always get woken up in the morning দ্বারা the sound of my own screams. Do আপনি think I’m unhappy?

For the past two seasons, the working practices behind South Park have been altered, bringing about a sea change in the show’s fortunes and notoriety. South Park is now the first authentically topical cartoon show, written and animated inside of a week so that the creators can keep up to তারিখ with current events, leading to episodes like ‘Two Days Before the দিন After Tomorrow’ about the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, অথবা ‘Cartoon Wars’ which dealt with the Mohammed cartoon furore. But in 2005 the episode ‘Trapped In The Closet’ took on the Church of Scientology in the most confrontational manner imaginable, not only offending the organisation’s most high পরিলেখ members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta (‘oh my gahd!’), but calling the Church’s entire ethos and culture into question, taunting them to react:

STAN: I’m not the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, and Scientology is just a big fat global scam.

SCIENTOLOGISTS: আপনি think আপনি can say our religion is a lie? We’ll sue you, buddy. আপনি are so sued. আপনি can’t make fun of Scientology, kid. We are gonna sue you, and your boss. How dare আপনি mock our faith, আপনি little punk? You’ll be hearing from our lawyers tomorrow.

STAN: Well, go on then, do it. I’m not scared of you. Sue me.

The incident called worldwide attention to the প্রদর্শনী for the first time in years. The Catholic Church soon joined in, protesting over an episode, ‘Bloody Mary’, in which a statue of the Blessed Virgin shits blood in the new Pope’s face, though Trey Parker himself admitted he could understand why people were offended দ্বারা that one. Things came to a head with 2006’s ‘Cartoon Wars’, in which a brief glimpse of the prophet Mohammed was shoehorned into an episode attacking the rival cartoon series ‘Family Guy’. But the image was blacked out দ্বারা Comedy Central, fearing a backlash from Moslems — never mind that the episode ‘Super Best Friends’ had featured Mohammed as a character back in 2001, as part of a league of religious superheroes which also included Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna and the Mormon founder Joseph Smith, and nobody had batted an eyelid.

So how did South Park manage for so long to get away with courting such radical controversies? If a mainstream film অথবা drama series depicted the Catholic Church as a society populated entirely দ্বারা dedicated child molesters led দ্বারা a decrepit Pontiff who worships a giant মাকড়সা (as in ‘Red Hot Catholic Love’), they would not only be facing trouble from the FCC and Christian groups, but possible prosecution under laws governing discrimination and religious freedom. Similarly, if a Hollywood comedy depicted the North American Man-Boy প্রণয় Association’s pursuit of a group of eight year-olds in the style of bedroom farce complete with French accordion সঙ্গীত and a pratfalling waiter, it would quite rightly be seen as monumental bad taste. But for years South Park had done all this and more, with nary a raised eyebrow. Only when the machinations of Tom Cruise and his fellow Scientologists drew attention to the প্রদর্শনী did religious and moral groups begin to take notice, and complain.

It’s partly a প্রশ্ন of context. অ্যানিমেশন has for so long been the provenance of innocent entertainment that South Park’s trangressions were easily overlooked, dismissed as harmlessly childish. Parker and Stone worked slowly, almost imperceptibly, the facile potty humour of the show’s early seasons অভিনয় in their favour — quite simply, nobody was watching. The boundaries of decency were expanded ever so gradually, starting with established satirical targets like the Catholics and the religious right before widening their horizons to take on extremists and hypocrites of all stripes, creeds and faiths.

Parker and Stone’s attacks are bolstered দ্বারা a clear-headed intelligence and self-awareness absent from their peers, allowing them to walk the knife-edge between comedy and indecency with practiced skill. Allied to neither political party (to the great frustration of activists on both sides), every attack Parker and Stone make is morally inspired, heartfelt, and personal but also objectively even-handed, motivated দ্বারা a high-minded willingness to expose and lampoon duplicity wherever it may hide. The episode ‘I’m a Little Bit Country’ deals with the run-up to war in Iraq in the context of clashing marches দ্বারা both anti-war protesters and pro-war ‘patriots’. Neither side is left unscathed, but their differences are solved when Cartman flashes back in time to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and uncovers the great hypocrisy which underlies the entirety of U.S. history: America will always be at war, both for financial gain and self-preservation, but the Constitution also promises freedom of protest, ensuring that the national conscience can always be placated. It’s an astonishing conclusion: without the hawks the country would collapse, but without the doves they’d just be seen as warmongering criminals. At a time when the country was divided into two irreconcilable and increasingly তিক্ত camps, only South Park was able to ignore the ongoing war of words and uncover an even greater, আরো disturbing lie, one which America will almost certainly never choose to face.

Another of the great joys of South Park is that the show’s attacks, particularly on shadowy অথবা misunderstood organisations, are often backed up দ্বারা a genuine desire to educate. Everything আপনি need to know about either Scientology অথবা Mormonism can be learned here, the writers sticking as close as possible to the facts because it’s damn close to comedy already. Other episodes stray further from the truth — it’s unlikely that the Pope does, in fact, worship the কুইন Spider, অথবা that the OJ trial was won using the Chewbacca defence.

Many of the most vicious, pointed attacks in the series are reserved for যশস্বী — David Blaine, Steven Spielberg, and Rob Reiner have all paid the price for perceived crimes and double standards. Perhaps the most vicious celebrity attack of all can be seen in the episode ‘Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset’, in which Paris Hilton drinks until she vomits, drives her pets to suicide, attempts to buy poor helpless Butters and engages in a ‘whore-off’ with consummate whipping boy Mr. Slave, wherein she inserts a pineapple into her vagina and is eventually swallowed দ্বারা Mr. Slave’s anus, to the delight of the gathered crowd. The episode could, and occasionally does, come across as mean-spirited — Paris is obnoxious, but she hardly seems an appropriate target for such bilious hatred. But, again, the target is wider than one person — Parker and Stone are attacking the industry that has sprung up around figures like Hilton, the culture which encourages young women to prize appearance and attitude over intelligence and self-worth, which pushes them to dress and behave like pampered heiresses.

Occasionally Parker and Stone’s fury gets the better of them. ‘The Passion of the Jew’ begins in classic fashion, as the various arguments are laid out and examined: is the film anti-Semitic? Is the bible? Is Mel Gibson? The উত্তর are yes, probably, and yes. But then the episode moves onto a larger question: Is the film any good? It’s an appropriately lopsided South Park approach, as Stan and Kenny set off to Malibu to confront Gibson and get their admission fee back. And here the episode falls down — the writers’ hatred for the burly Australian homunculus is so intense that they can’t seem to bring themselves to deal with him at all, except as a freakish, shit-flinging madman — it’s sledgehammer satire, and less funny for it.

But this tendency to take everything personally can also be rewarding — many of the episodes are driven দ্বারা a real moral fervour, an outrage against the horrors that exist in the world. The aforementioned ‘Cartman Joins NAMBLA’ does indeed depict the ravenous sexual pursuit of pre-teen boys, but the episode is steeped in a genuine sense of disgust that serves to sharpen both the comedy and the social comment. As usual, the characters of Stan and Kyle serve as proxies for Parker and Stone themselves:

NAMBLA REPRESENTATIVE: We are human. Most of us didn’t even choose to be attracted to young boys. We were born that way. We can’t help the way we are. And if আপনি all can’t understand that, well, then I guess you’ll just have to put us away.

KYLE: Dude, আপনি have sex with children.

STAN: Yeah, আপনি know, we believe in equality for everybody and tolerance and all that gay stuff but, dude, fuck you.

KYLE: Seriously.

But the most reviled figures in Parker and Stone’s world, responsible for আরো heinous crimes than religion, government and NAMBLA put together, are the parents. In the universe of South Park, parents are irresponsible, morally wavering, easily influenced, so convinced of their intellectual superiority over their hapless offspring that they are blind to the reality of the world surrounding them. The most flagrant example of this comes in the film Bigger, Longer And Uncut, in which the mothers happily lead the U.S. into a war with Canada to protect their children from foul language, but the theme reoccurs throughout the series. In the episode ‘Cherokee Hair Tampons’, Kyle’s mother is assured of the efficacy of New Age remedies to the point where her son almost dies of a kidney infection. In ‘Child Abduction Is Not Funny’, the parents become so paranoid that their children might go missing that they have the local Chinese restaurant owner build a দেওয়াল around the town to keep out potential abductors (it is instead attacked দ্বারা hordes of angry Mongolians). An episode dealing with the Michael Jackson case, ‘The Jeffersons’, throws the issue into stark relief—Parker and Stone are less interested in whether অথবা not Jackson is a child molester than his skills as a dad:

KYLE: Let’s say all the bad things ব্যক্ত about Mr. Jefferson are lies. Let’s say the police department does just go around spending their time framing people for crimes they didn’t commit. Let’s say it’s all made up, and Mr. Jefferson is just a nice guy who’s trying to be a child because he never got to have a childhood. Well that’s fine, except that he has children now, and when people have children they have to grow up.

MR. JEFFERSON You’re right… Blanket doesn’t need a playmate. He needs a father.

In South Park, the worst thing anybody can be is a bad parent.

Occasionally the series does go too far and risks becoming a crass display of crude shock tactics—it was saddening to see Cartman’s image in that desperate parade of washed-up comics, The Aristocrats, but occasionally South Park suffers from a similarly skewed desire to horrify without real purpose. When the first episode after Isaac Hayes’ acrimonious departure, ‘The Return of Chef’, included references to child abuse and molestation, it felt like a cheap and immature attempt to send Hayes off in the most insulting way imaginable. Other সাম্প্রতিক episodes have similarly struggled — the প্রদর্শনী concerning Mr. Garrison’s sex change operation was graphically disgusting, but contained precious little insight, as did an episode concerning an argument between Oprah Winfrey’s private parts. The episode ‘Bloody Mary’ that so angered the Catholic Church made a number of supremely intelligent points about alcoholism, but was somewhat railroaded দ্বারা the unnecessarily grotesque blood-shitting incident.

It’s now becoming unavoidably clear that, like The Simpsons before it, the heyday of South Park is past. In their ongoing bid to become as topical as possible, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have sacrificed some of the cool headedness and insight that made the প্রদর্শনী work — it feels rushed, because it is. There are still moments of near-genius, angles on current events that provoke us into re-learning what we think we already know. It will be interesting to see how the fallout from the Scientology and ‘Cartoon Wars’ episodes affects South Park’s ability to address serious issues — Comedy Central’s decision to censor the image of Mohammed has set a worrying precedent. But even without the threat of outside influence the show’s edge is getting blunt, the satirical swipes cheaper and আরো obvious. A case in point, the সাম্প্রতিক episode ‘Manbearpig’, in which former Vice President Al Gore attempts to warn the world about the increasing threat from the titular beast, which exists only in his head. The parallels are achingly clear: global warming, pollution. But the show’s take on the issue seems badly thought out — are they trying to প্রশ্ন the now irrefutable science behind global warming, and if so, why? It feels like senseless devil’s advocating, taking the naysayer’s position just for the hell of it. It’s hard to believe Parker and Stone care much for the environmental issue either way, so why tackle it?

Perhaps it’s not too late. If Parker and Stone were willing to ignore the yes-men, sacrifice some small measure of pertinence and accept a larger workload, perhaps the প্রদর্শনী could regain it’s former standing — it’s been less than two years since the quality first began to slide. But even if things continue as they are, we still have six seasons worth of sporadic perfection, moments of stark truth and genuine insight, and better jokes than anyone else.

It would be remiss of me to end this প্রবন্ধ without drawing attention to one of the great প্রশ্ন of our age, which has pursued me through pubs and bars across the free world: which is the better show, South Park অথবা The Simpsons? It should be clear দ্বারা now on which side my allegiances lie, but such a bold claim requires backup, and I’m happy to provide it.

For a start, let me say that I don’t hate The Simpsons. For at least six অথবা seven years, from about the third to the eighth অথবা ninth seasons, The Simpsons was classic টেলিভিশন — rounded characters, tight, effective plotting, genuinely funny. But those days are long gone, and the hollow sham that was a great প্রদর্শনী keeps lumbering forward. Now that South Park seems to be headed in the same direction, we can look back to each show’s peak and compare.

On the level of satire, South Park is a million miles ahead of The Simpsons, which always seemed to pride itself on being a bit dangerous but whose attacks were in fact confined to petty jibes at the expense of nuclear power and big government, and occasionally prejudice of one sort অথবা another. And the fact remains that The Simpsons is produced দ্বারা the শিয়াল network, so however much they try to proclaim their independence and countercultural credentials they are in the pay of a man who poses a grave threat to democracy and liberty the world over, who happily hands power to warmongers and extremists. So they really don’t have a leg to stand on.

As regards characters, the Simpsons may once have had the edge, but it’s a ছবি finish. If nothing else, the warmth of personality in The Simpsons nudges it ahead of the rather আরো brutal (though perhaps আরো realistic) characterisation in South Park.

But the bottom line is that both are comedy shows, and South Park is now, has always been and will always be funnier. There are some great gags in The Simpsons, slapstick and wordplay, ironic and sweet. But in South Park the laughs hit harder, and last longer. As an easy example, take the movie references in each show: while The Simpsons tends to stick to rather overbaked, obvious references to familiar, populist classics – 2001, The Godfather, A Few Good Men, TV shows like The Sopranos – South Park has to তারিখ included references to films as divergent as It’s Alive!, Children of the Corn, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Aliens, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and most gloriously They Live, wherein one of cinema’s longest fight scenes was restaged between wheelchair-bound Timmy and crutch-carrying Jimmy. But the point is less which films were chosen but how the references are treated—in The Simpsons, if আপনি don’t know the film আপনি won’t get the joke, it’s an isolated, often purely visual reference with no other connection to surrounding events. But in South Park, these homages work organically within the story, serving as inspiration and enhancement even though the scenes would work just as well without them.

I find the continued popularity of The Simpsons perplexing—as the প্রদর্শনী grows ever আরো smug and desperate, the wonder of South Park only shines brighter in contrast. I doubt if South Park will ever get as bad as The Simpsons is now, if only because it’s written দ্বারা two smart people instead of a faceless committee, and I trust Parker and Stone to recognise when it’s time to stop. Though judging দ্বারা some সাম্প্রতিক episodes, that time could be closer than any of us want to believe.

Huddleston.T,© 2007