This is a show, after all, that once painted God as a gap-toothed rhinoceros-monkey, portrays Satan as a simpering milquetoast and regularly features Jesus as a superhero—the kind who’s not afraid to ignore the peaceful teachings of the Sermon on the Mount to smite his opponents. The show has mocked Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Scientologists and atheists, among (many) others.
It’s a formula that’s generally served “South Park” well, allowing it to score comic points by riffing on hypocrisy while emphasizing a message of libertarianism and tolerance, and it’s one that goes back to the show’s beginnings, points out former Dallas Morning News TV critic Ed Bark, who blogs at UncleBarky.com. After all, he recalls, the show began as a Christmas short violently pitting Santa Claus against Jesus.
In the beginning, it wasn’t so much the religion that bothered observers but the language used by the series’ pint-sized cast, he said.
“The most shocking thing back then was, you had little kids exercising a vocabulary that you hadn’t heard before [from children],” he said. “I go back to the days when [the sitcom] ‘Uncle Buck’s’ ‘You suck’ was a major point of contention on a CBS sitcom and everybody went crazy about ‘how can they have an 8-year-old kid saying this?’ And then ‘South Park’ ratcheted that way up.”
However, the show can still ruffle feathers