When done correctly, satire is the most powerful comedic tool in the universe. It is the Death Star of comedy, able to lay waste to all other forms with a single well-focused attack. Now imagine that the Rebel Alliance had never destroyed the Death Star...or the second, not as aesthetically pleasing but still fully operational Death Star. Imagine that it had been allowed to "position itself" all over the galaxy and crush any hint of rebellion in its tracks. Such a reign would be terrifying, but since we are talking about satire here, it would be hilarious...terrifyingly hilarious.
I have been a long time fan of South Park. Sure, at first it was just how crude both the paper cut out style animation and jokes were. As the years went on, however, the razor sharp edge of the show's humor sliced through all sorts of topic that were previously considered taboo. Whether it be religion, racism, disabilities or comedy itself, nobody has escaped the rapier wit and ruthless criticism of South Park's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
And that is really the key. If they made fun of only the people that disagreed with their social, political or personal views, their satire would be just plain mean. But the genius of South Park's humor comes from the fact that they think that we are all ridiculous idiots and somehow manage to make us realize that they are right, we all suck. To top it all off, they turn the microscope of their satire inward occasionally and admit their own shortcomings.
In their latest episode, South Park poked fun at obesity, our obsession with shows like Honey Boo Boo (my favorite moment coming when they point out that it is on The Learning Channel) and James Cameron's love of himself. In doing so, they pointed out that the bar had sunk to an all time low. That was, in fact, what James Cameron had dove into the depths of the ocean to try and find. Once the bar was discovered, they suggested that South Park itself might bear some of the responsibility. They managed yet again to make fun of everybody, including themselves with a distinct start-to-finish story line, not just random jokes.
That is how satire is done. Take notes, Family Guy.
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