SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT
South Park is a show that sets out to offend everybody. Initially, the series was centred more around scatological and foul-mouthed humour but, as it went on, Parker and Stones humour became more sophisticated. They began to take potshots at numerous celebrities, public figures and issues of controversy, firing off at both sides of the political spectrum and conducting a number of biting attacks on religion most controversially the Catholics (in an episode featuring the Virgin Mary menstruating on the Pope), Scientology (the infamous Tom Cruise in the closet episode that had Cruise forcing Comedy Central to drop the episode from re-runs) and Islam, the one episode that was finally banned by Comedy Central who were afraid of jihadist reprisals. The show, which makes a virtue of its low-tech animation, is mostly known for its absurdist humour, including Jesus Christ as a resident of the town, a talking poo named Mr Hanky and appearances from Satan, Santa and other surreal figures, which makes South Park one of the few modern inheritors of the Menippean Satire.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was a film spinoff made during the shows second season. Bigger, Longer & Uncut has a celebrated reputation. It has been included on some Best Animated Films lists, while the song Blame Canada was even nominated for an Academy Award (reportedly because it was the only PG-rated one in the film). Bigger, Longer & Uncut also holds the world record for the most four-letter words used in an animated film (something like one every six seconds apparently). I missed seeing South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut during its initial theatrical release. My misfortune was to come to it some time later, after having seen Parker and Stones Team America: World Police (2004) and some of the later seasons of South Park. It is there that the satire and taboo-baiting challenges that the film conducts seem somewhat the lesser subsequent seasons of the tv series built the satire with much sharper and more absurd bite, while the low-tech animation became more polished.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut sets out to be rude and offensive. The bulk of the plot readily launches into the debate on R-rated material influencing children and about foul-language on the airwaves that was raging at the time that the film came out indeed, South Park was the prominent target of ire by real-life concerned parents groups, while the copious foul-language in Bigger, Longer & Uncut upset a surprising number of people even though the film comes with an R-rating. As with much of Parker and Stones product, they happily name and poke fun at celebrities, with Brooke Shields, Conan OBrien and Winona Ryder being in their targets eye. The Canadian Minister of Film is seen apologising for the country having produced Bryan Adams and there is even a scene where one of the generals shoots Bill Gates in the head. Like Michael Moores sole work of fiction Canadian Bacon (1995), South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is an American film that takes satiric aim at Canada where clearly both works regard their neighbours friendliness and lack of overall aggressiveness as either an objective of derision or personal ire (it is hard to decide which). Canadians oddly enough love the film.
As with much of Parker and Stones humour, there is the downright bizarre and surreal. One of the running subplots is Kenny (who is always killed somewhere throughout every episode of South Park and inexplicably alive again by the next episode) ending up in Hell where he witnesses Satan and Saddam Hussein as gay lovers. This comes with decided amusement the image of Saddam in bed waggling a dildo and yelling “Oh yeah, be my bitch” while Satan feels increasingly dissatisfied at being used for sex and that Saddam does not respect his feelings. At one point, Satan is seen sitting in bed reading a book entitled Saddam is From Mars, while later he has a dippy love song about being lonely and feeling that he does not fit in in Hell.
There was a subsequent South Park film with the dvd-released South Park: Imaginationland (2009), although this was merely edited from a three-part episode of the tv series.
South Parks creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone met at the University of Colorado in the early 1990s and became best friends. They started making films as students, beginning with the Spirit of Christmas shorts, and have remained a partnership since. They first branched into live-action with Alferd Packer: The Musical/Cannibal: The Musical (1996) made while they were still in college, a musical-comedy retelling of the story of a true-life cannibal that comes in their characteristic wackily absurd style. Parker, with Matt Stone as an associate, then went onto direct and star in Orgazmo (1997), a parody film about a Mormon who becomes a porn star and a superhero. Then came South Park and Bigger, Longer & Uncut. They followed it with one further film, the hilarious and wilfully offensive puppet show Team America: World Police (2004). Elsewhere the duo have also made the satirical comedy tv series Thats My Bush (2000-1), a satire on the private life of George W. Bush for Comedy Centrals, which lasted for eight episodes.