South Park is an American animated television comedy series created and written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for Comedy Central, which follows the adventures of four foul-mouthed grade school boys living in the little town of South Park.
The show is well known for its pop-culture parody, scatological humour and satirical handling of current events.
The show is set in the Colorado town of South Park, where weird things keep happening - whether it's being abducted by aliens, overrun with panhandlers or faking illness so as not to get into trouble.
South Park's controversial characters are Eric Cartman, the rude, obnoxious, sadistic, racist, fat kid; Stan Marsh, a quiet kid with a huge crush on Wendy Testaberger; Kyle Brofloski, the religious Jewish kid who Cartman picks on for being Jewish; and Kenny, the orange parka-hooded kid who dies in every episode.
Apart from the continuously "vulgar" presentation of issues, South Park implements several recurring themes that it frequently uses, including current events, disabilities, political issues, racism, gay rights, death, environment, censorship, political correctness, abortion, sex, atheism, and religion, many of which are widely viewed as controversial.
Controversies over South Park have occurred numerous times. The show depicts what many people find to be taboo subject matter, from its use of vulgarity to its satire of subjects such as religion and cults, sexuality, steroids and global warming.
Stone and Parker are self-described "equal opportunity offenders" and episodes often lampoon all sides of a contentious issue, rather than taking a concrete position.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the co-creators of South Park. Parker, Stone, Anne Garefino and Frank C. Agnone II are the executive producers. Eric Stough, Adrien Beard, Bill Hader, Bruce Howell and Vernon Chatman are Producers.
South Park began in 1992 when Trey Parker and Matt Stone, at the time students at the University of Colorado, met in a film class and created an animated short called Jesus vs. Frosty.
The low-budget, crudely-made film featured prototypes of the main characters of South Park, including a character resembling Cartman but named "Kenny", an unnamed character resembling what is today Kenny, and two near-identical unnamed characters who would resemble Stan and Kyle.
In 1995, FOX executive Brian Graden saw the film, and commissioned Parker and Stone to create a second short film that he could send to his friends as a video Christmas card.
Titled Jesus vs. Santa, it resembled the style of the later series more closely, and featured a martial arts duel and subsequent truce between Jesus and Santa Claus over the true meaning of Christmas.
This video was later featured in the episode "A Very Crappy Christmas" in which Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and Mr. Hankey "save" Christmas for the town. The video was popular and was widely shared, both by duplication and over the Internet.
This led to talks to create a series, first with FOX, then with Comedy Central, where the series debuted on August 13, 1997.
During the first four seasons of South Park, clips of the shorts can be seen in the opening sequence within an old television and a billboard.
Construction paper cutouts were used in the original pilot animation and in the first episode made for Comedy Central. Subsequent episodes have been produced by computer animation providing a similar look to the originals.
The appearance of characters and scenes has become less crude over time, largely in order to enhance the comedic effect. Special effects, such as prepackaged explosions, have replaced cardboard-style fires.
Light shading has been used to highlight "sappy," movie-like moments as well as some of Cartman's dramatic poses.
Some episodes, such as Tweek vs. Craig and Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina, have even incorporated sections of live action video.
CorelDRAW is used to create the characters, which are animated using Maya, or in early episodes, PowerAnimator.
The style of animation used for South Park was inspired by the paper cut-out cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been lifelong fans.
Thanks to this efficient method, episodes of South Park are usually completed in six days (although some, such as AWESOM-O or Woodland Critter Christmas have taken only three or four).
The first 11 seasons aired in South Africa on M-Net, after which the channel handed first-run rights to sister channel Vuzu and discontinued the show.
Vuzu repeated seasons 10 and 11 (which had aired on M-Net) then took over first-run airings of South Park for Season 12, after which it began broadcasting the series from Season 1. Once it had caught up the first 10 seasons the channel discontinued the show, which was picked up Comedy Central.
Comedy Central Africa
When Comedy Central debuted in South Africa on DStv in December 2011, the channel took over from Vuzu as the exclusive broadcaster of South Park and began airing episodes from Season 15. It later began broadcasting all seasons of the show, swapping the order of some seasons.