“South Park conservatives” is unlikely to join “soccer moms” or “NASCAR dads” in the political lexicon as a descriptive term for any definable voting bloc. The idea that the audience for the popular cartoon featuring foul-mouthed 4th graders who satirize American culture might be conservative was inspired by political commentator Andrew Sullivan, who called “South Park Republicans” people who want a “hard-ass foreign policy and are extremely skeptical of political correctness.” If true, this idea is more indicative of a moment in history—a turning point in the culture wars. “South Park” is where popular culture turned against liberalism.
Brian C. Anderson’s book, South Park Conservatives (Regnery—a Human Events sister company), analyzes what he believes is the end of liberalism’s stranglehold on the media. The “South Park” phenomenon takes up only a single chapter of the book, but he uses it as the key indicator of a cultural sea change in which it can now be acceptable and even outrageously funny to satirize liberal sacred cows, such as the anti-smoking movement, mainstreaming of the mentally challenged in public schools (Timmy!) and even voter registration drives (the show satirized Sean Combs’ “Vote or Die” campaign, illustrating the absurdity of scaring uninformed voters into the polling booth).
It’s important to note that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of “South Park,” do not endorse Anderson’s thesis and would not grant Anderson an interview. They have not spared conservatives from their biting satire, having written the short-lived “That’s My Bush” parody sitcom. The cover of the book features a disclaimer indicating that they had nothing to do with the book. They have been quoted as saying they hate conservatives, but just hate liberals even more.
This undermines the idea that the audience of the show can really be deemed “conservative” in the sense that they vote conservative, if they vote at all. Anderson’s broad point is that the humor of “South Park” clearly slants toward the conservative or libertarian viewpoint with a dose of small-town morality filtering through. He argues that if the marquee program on Comedy Central is conservative, then an aesthetic change in American humor has taken place, such that the outrageous cutting edge of satire is now anti-liberal.
He has a generous list of examples to illustrate this trend, including past Comedy Central programs such as “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.” Liberals blasted the show as racist, even though it regularly featured black comedians engaging in frank, politically incorrect racial humor and dialogue forbidden by the liberal media. Comedian Chris Rock currently does a bit in his stand-up routine in which he suggests that black domination of sports can be attributed to generations of breeding strong slaves together to create “super slaves.” This was the same theory that got commentator Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder fired from CBS Sports nearly 20 years ago for being so offensive. Something has changed.
Anderson writes that it’s the “illiberal liberals” who created an environment in public discourse so hostile to debate or discussion on topics deemed important to their social agenda that they inadvertently created a bevy of new taboo subjects perfect for comedy.
The book shows where we are and how we got here, complete with dozens of endnotes and interviews with the principle conservatives leading the revolt against liberal media bias. Anderson leaves the conservative reader with hope that the current generation of youth is rejecting liberal ideas such as affirmative action and left-wing elitism and speech codes, just as the generation before them cast aside Jim Crow segregation and sexist discrimination. People, Anderson notes, tend to get more conservative as they get older.