Re: South Park B/L/U: another opinion

Ian Andrew Bell (
Wed, 07 Jul 1999 15:18:07 -0700

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Well, we're rewarding them because it's entertaining.

It's unclear to me that there's really a sociopathic difference between the
type who would actually have the compulsion to picket a movie such as "South
Park" and the type who would use it as the inspiration for a brutal high
school killing.

At most, movies like "South Park" (which I probably won't see, since I have
led a blissful ignorant existence having not seen the TV show) or something
like Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" are gently tugging at the end of
a long rope that inches your society towards moral degradation. Within the
context of a social sickness perpetuated by vast inequalities in wealth,
poor and unequal access to education, and insufficient social services to
help struggling families, this rope gradually gets pulled further towards

I watched "Natural Born Killers" and have no compulsion to slaughter the
world even though I found the violence in this and other films like "Pulp
Fiction" to be entertaining. What's different about me? I was raised by
parents who cared to, and had the time to, explain things to me. I went to
good schools and learned proper behaviour, I have never committed a crime
(well..) and I have been taught the skills of leading a productive life
within mainstream society. Education, social assistance, free health care,
and other social programs are partly responsible for my relatively
unmitigated development as a person. From my 10 months of living and work-
ing in the US, it is readily evident that most Americans do not have the
same support networks to count on.

Make these essential elements of nation building relevant again, reduce the
US Military's testosterone driven maniacal control over the national agenda
to pay for them, and over successive generations watch as the people grow
to be absorptive of such ideas without being directly influenced by them.
Why does Europe have permissive laws regarding sex and violence on televis-
ion and yet have lower teen pregnancy rates, and murder and crime rates?
Statistics "suggest" (you cannot prove these links to be causal) that soc-
ial programs are major contributors.

If the church wants to help moral degradation they should curb their spend-
ing on hookers and theme parks and work to heal the sick, and feed and edu-
cate the poor. Go ahead and spoon feed them the Real Truth about Jesus
while they're at it -- see if I care. GOD, just like television, is
responsible for many mass killings (eg. the conquest of New Spain certainly
outmatches the Columbine High School killings in sheer numbers). It's all
in how we interpret and use the ideas that we're presented with.

Short of helping society as a whole YOU, Jim Whitehead, are perfectly wel-
come to access the means of cultural production to tell your own story and
pull the rope in the other direction. The challenge is to make it enter-
taining to the audience that needs it -- these are the undereducated, the
easily influenced, the faceless hordes that social theorists thrust forth
as the lowest common denominator. SO get to writing, and sell the script
to some cocaine-snorting Hollywood producer type (and maybe grease the
wheels on your train to moral triumph by scoring him some premium-quality
hashish -- yes I love the irony there).

You know what a good example was? "Clueless". This, and some of the John
Hughes movies, have been very successful at eroding the football-star-as-
hero and cheerleader-as-conquest high school culture that once permeated
the teenage definition of "cool". Also, organizations like adbusters (at are exemplary of countercultural revolut-
ionaries that use the same mechanisms as those whose ideas they combat. A
little more significant than redefining teen culture, I'll admit.

Anyway, you wanna battle sickness in the media? Give people a societally
acceptable context in which to consume it by nurturing their growth, or
get down in the trenches and fight their memes with your own.


Jim Whitehead wrote:
> Perhaps I wasn't clear here -- I didn't suggest the movie should be
> censored. Personally, I find censorship to be completely abhorrent. I'm
> well aware of our right to free speech, and I completely favor it.
> Thus my careful choice of the word "condone".
> My point is: why are we celebrating this movie, rather than standing in
> front of movie theaters exercising our right to free speech to publicly
> criticize it?
> Though I grant them the full right to make South Park, or any movie they
> want, why are we rewarding a movie containing these elements with a profit,
> and incentive to repeat it?
> - Jim
> P.S. -- anyone who replies that I have the right to just not watch the movie
> gets 20 demerits. Grant me the credit for having actually thought of such
> an obvious reply, and that despite it, I'm still raising objections.
> > Jim sez:
> >
> > > After all, can anyone on this list really make a rational defense for
> > why a
> > > movie containing: [...] Should be condoned in any way by society?
> >
> > Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
> > of
> > religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
> > abridging
> > the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right
> > of the
> > people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
> > Government for a redress of grievances.
> > The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
> [Snipped: A competent defense of first amendment rights]

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