POLITICS - Would You Like To Buy a Log Cabin in South Park?

Aunt Tom (or Little Roy Cohn as Eric Alterman calls him) just couldn't be prouder of the little meme that he birthed several years ago, "South Park Republicans". He unceremoniously dumps it out again, just in time for the new year. I normally don't pay much attention to anything Sullivan says, but I am tired of this phrase "South Park Republican" and I have already blogged about conservative pundits using it.

He begins with a decent question about the trend in contemporary youth politics:

WHEN, one wonders, did conservatism in America become hip? In the US the new millennium seems to have entrenched a growing trend among the younger generations that, if not culturally conservative, is anti-liberal.

It's a fair question that I believe is fundamentally answered later in the article, here:

The younger generation is more liberal in some respects: they tend to be more pro-gay and more comfortable in a multiracial society. But, in a natural reaction against their parents, their distaste for do-gooder cant is well developed.

Today's youth are reacting against their parents, including the older generation's ideology and the academic liberalism of the 60's and 90's. They are reacting against the somewhat liberal status quo, resulting in the negative attitude toward "do-gooder" causes like welfare, affirmative action, artic drilling, and internationalism. It's understandable that such a shift will create a little anxiety or distress, but liberals can only allow the trend to run its course. We can't prevent it, but we can try to minimize the damage it can do to the national liberal movement, as a whole.

The swing from left to right is a natural dynamic fundamental to any established Democracy, and I don't think that either side should be very surprised. The youth's embrace of Bill Clinton in 1992 was partially driven by a natural rejection of the previous twelve Reagan/Bush years. The current embrace of Bush II is partially driven by a natural rejection of authority (i.e. the Clinton Administration) and the resulting return to patriotism (or borderline jingoism) marked by the 9/11 attacks. Even if Bush is re-elected by a landslide, America’s youth will swing back toward the left in 2008 or 2012.

These generational polar swings can’t be prevented, and I’m tired of seeing my favorite shows dragged into the middle of a culture war. South Park was initially embraced by liberal groups, because they enjoyed the fact that small town rednecks were portrayed as gun-toting neanderthals, hiding their bigotry behind the American flag. Liberal and gay rights groups even gave South Park key awards in their first season for the Sparky (Gay Dog) Episode. South Park responded to this attention from Liberals with an episode about the Rain Forest that went against every acceptable liberal standard. Now that Christ-loving conservatives are paying attention to the show, Matt and Trey came up with this key exchange in an episode about Christian music:

Cartman: "This weekend is Christfest, the single largest gathering of Christians in the Midwest. Each one of them is a walking, praying wallet full of cash and I'll be there selling my album."

Stan: "Yeah, you don't even know anything about Christianity."

Cartman: "I know enough to exploit it."

(Actually, that basically describes Rove/Bush’s views on national security…)

The show clearly doesn’t endorse any candidate or ideology in our present two-party system. The term “South Park Republican” might describe some of today’s youth, but so would the term “South Park Democrat”. Unfortunately for Sullivan, Parker and Stone are none of these. Trey Parker is rumored to belong to the Libertarian Party and is not shy when discussing hard drug use. Matt Stone was featured in Bowling for Columbine, a film not endorsed by any GOP group (including the Log Cabin Traitors). When asked in a Q&A about their personal political affiliation, they respond:

Trey: We avoid extremes but we hate liberals more than conservatives and we hate them.
Matt: I hate conservatives but I really fucking hate liberals.

I consider myself to be fairly liberal, but I find myself agreeing with several of Matt & Trey’s points about people like Barbra Streisand, Rosie O’Donnel, or Sally Struthers. I support enivornmental causes, but I’m pretty tired of the arguments presented by the liberal academics who just want to sit and blame everything on Republican policies. On the other end of the political spectrum, I can say that I enjoy personal spirituality, but I don’t want an elected official to claim that God is placing people in office.

South Park’s humor is based on children’s natural sense of pragmatism, set against the harsh realism of adulthood. I guess that Aunt Tom & Co. can only see the moments when South Park’s humor aligns with their own, and decide that this must be a moral victory for the Conservative movement. But any quick glance through a South Park message board will prove that the show’s fans are basically split 50/50 over Bush and/or the Iraq War. The show itself is not a bellwether of the youth anymore. That’s for shows like The O.C. or Alias

So what do fans of the O.C. think of Bush? Let’s look at their message boards… Let’s see what today’s youth think of President Bush.

Original Thread:
i'm just wondering... what do you all think of bush?

Here are the first ten replies, I'm not hand-picking the best.


-You mean our own little dictator? Let's just say his name aptly describes what he has the intelligence of.

-Bush? who cares...this is a O.C. message place hello!

-they should give him a war game on pc then he hasent have to start war everywhere :p

-Not much, not much at all, the guy is lying moron puppet who wasnt even elected into office. Draft his daughters.

-I think that President Bush is a very respectable man. He has done his best to lead our country through these rough times. Though sometimes his actions may not seem to be in the peoples best interest, they are. He is a wonderful president and I hope that he is re-elected.

-hes just an a$$.

-hehe i agree

-He needs to be voted out of office!!!

-he was never voted into office

If I wanted to be partisan, I would say that the support among today's hottest show amoung young adults seem to be biased against Bush. If I was Andrew Sullivan, I'd instantly try to come up with a nice catchy slogan like Orange County Democrats (The OCD's, for short). But those type of extrapolations only cloud the legitimate issues that require debate, and that's why I leave them for Mr. Sullivan. After all, he's the type of guy who wants to praise Bush's dodgy responses about gay marriage as "clever". (Yeah, Aunt Tom, it's real clever how Bush continually looks at homosexuals like you and says, "I don't like you, and my religion believes that you are an abhorration in God's eyes." In South Park terms, Bush would probably like to send all the homosexuals to live with the crab people deep beneath the crust of the earth.)

If Dennis Miller or the creators of South Park identified themselves as Republicans, I probably wouldn't care about these type of articles or terms. (I blogged earlier about Brian Anderson's article.) I get upset when South Park's (or Dennis Miller's) pragmatic idealism is co-opted into some pundit's self-serving interests. Their comedy underlies a national ignorance of issues like security and personal rights, an ignorance caused by empty rhetoric and political correctness. If we really need to elicit more than a laugh from these comedians, the message surely won't come from partisans like Anderson or Sullivan...


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