You know that old "do video games/movies/TV shows make people violent" argument?
And you know how the answer is always "no, humans are just terrible people?"
Yeah, we're going back in on it and this time we're adding a few more layers to complicate things.
A whole lot of Cartman.
Journalist Dana Schwartz sparked an online debate about the cultural impact of South Park with a short series of tweets.
Whether people love the show or hate it, it's certainly something they're passionate about. Or at least something people passionately argue about.
Let's start with her tweets so we know exactly what her stance is.
In retrospect, it seems impossible to overstate the cultural damage done by SOUTH PARK, the show that portrayed ear… https://t.co/euevk0d8g8— Dana Schwartz (@Dana Schwartz) 1581617570.0
Smugness is not the same as intelligence; provocation isn’t the same as bravery. The lesser of two evils aren’t the same.— Dana Schwartz (@Dana Schwartz) 1581617657.0
It seems lie South Park has been trying to reckon with this—I admit I haven't been watching the show in recent seas… https://t.co/IfoyzpnDVI— Dana Schwartz (@Dana Schwartz) 1581628151.0
To be clear, I don't blame the show itself as much as I do the generation of boys who internalized it into their pe… https://t.co/aAljVtZt7l— Dana Schwartz (@Dana Schwartz) 1581632194.0
Dana, who is herself an author as well as writer for TV shows, was trying to talk about the ways South Park and it's attitude of nihilism and mocking was actually doing more damage than good. She expected some disagreement and was more than willing to talk about other people's opinions.
What she was not expecting was that South Park fans would make her point for her. They came at her in a wave of anger, misogyny, and general unpleasantness—calling her a whore, telling her she is genetically incapable of being funny since she is a woman and saying she "deserves the rope."
Oh, and there's a racial slur thrown in there, too.
Obviously not fun. That was sarcasm. Don't do this. This is trash.
My point was that South Park seemed to teach that it was always cooler to be reactionary and contrarian, and anyone… https://t.co/Py2xS6M6k8— Dana Schwartz (@Dana Schwartz) 1581696765.0
People saying “they make fun of everyone!!!” — that is my point. South Park IS a political show, but one whose mess… https://t.co/QOczSJMXfd— Dana Schwartz (@Dana Schwartz) 1581698040.0
We aren't saying all South Park fans are like this, we want to make that clear. There are terrible people in every fandom.
Our point is merely that these fans are definitely not helping the overall image many people have of what your average South Park fan is like.
Those kinds of comments weren't the only ones Dana got, though. Take a look at these.
Love it or hate it, people had some interesting insights.
@stealthygeek @DanaSchwartzzz Couldn't agree more. The whole point is the opposite of what people get at... If you… https://t.co/7DWRBHc8y1— James Spain (@James Spain) 1581713376.0
@DanaSchwartzzz I 100% know for a fact southpark fucked with my childhood. By 7th grade our entire friend group emu… https://t.co/wWoSxhRapA— InShane in the Membrane (@InShane in the Membrane) 1581713045.0
@DanaSchwartzzz I’ve been watching South Park on and off for 20 years. I’ve always seen it as a satire, holding a m… https://t.co/xW4mVUwEJo— danellek (@danellek) 1581620537.0
@DanaSchwartzzz I left the South Park fandom when I heard Matt & Trey proudly announce they don't vote because it d… https://t.co/H82y0WlquG— kristy (@kristy) 1581624103.0
@_aaronbnb @DanaSchwartzzz Or.. South Park mocks the people that take it too far. People who are too ideologically… https://t.co/CRMCReKr43— Lady🦡Honeybadger 🧢🌺 (@Lady🦡Honeybadger 🧢🌺) 1581646473.0
@DanaSchwartzzz I used to make a lot of excuses for them when I was, unsurprisingly, a teenager. I think their horr… https://t.co/5njvEfShsq— Shayne Valencia (@Shayne Valencia) 1581637768.0
@DanaSchwartzzz the toxic ethos of South Park permeates guy culture today, with its coarseness, its air of contempt… https://t.co/NT8ywoKdgI— The Library Owl 🎄🎅🦉 (@The Library Owl 🎄🎅🦉) 1581638940.0
@DanaSchwartzzz You seem to believe it spawned an entire generation of men who don’t give a fuck about anything, wh… https://t.co/b9gIcgqSUk— 👀 (@👀) 1581739319.0
@DanaSchwartzzz Mockery is both the best disinfectant and most powerful equalizer. Nothing deflates the puffed up… https://t.co/dxK6Bxomvz— furious_acquitted_forever_a (@furious_acquitted_forever_a) 1581636198.0
@DanaSchwartzzz I love South Park and I disagree with your take, but I respect your right speak to your mind withou… https://t.co/2Pt172WF0Q— Jenny Johnson (@Jenny Johnson) 1581637476.0
@DanaSchwartzzz They've made some pretty poignant, measured points lately with their episodes. The Amazon episode… https://t.co/0G70ttMPK9— The Crypto Fam (@The Crypto Fam) 1581719228.0
@DanaSchwartzzz I've read tweets making this point for like six years. South Park didn't invent disinterested nihil… https://t.co/5if9ky4XvS— ⚡5.8 Mega-Jules⚡ (@⚡5.8 Mega-Jules⚡) 1581631044.0
@DanaSchwartzzz Speaking as a media creator since the early 1990s, I feel the biggest mistake we made in those days… https://t.co/rtYuwHDEkn— Satyros Brucato is writing, furiously (@Satyros Brucato is writing, furiously) 1581652687.0
Of course that doesn't mean everyone had something of value to offer to the discussion...
@espiers @DanaSchwartzzz You're correct women could never be that funny.— timmytenders (@timmytenders) 1581720224.0
@DanaSchwartzzz https://t.co/kxVNMbPMHe— Dani VasNormandy (@Dani VasNormandy) 1581623644.0
@DanaSchwartzzz You basically begged for this..... https://t.co/ncF7sWRdXt— Paul M Winters (@Paul M Winters) 1581652507.0
Do you think South Park is responsible for causing the mindset Dana is talking about? Or is the show's popularity a symptom more than a cause?
Interestingly, South Park tackled the same question in their movie Bigger, Longer and Uncut, available here. But rather than blaming themselves, South Park urged everyone—in their Oscar nominated song—to "Blame Canada."