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Golly, Mr. Peabody
April 5, 2006 5:43 PM   Subscribe

"Primitive animation is part of the charm of TV's boldest, most politically incorrect satirical series. Its simple style also makes possible the show's unmatched topicality." For its "notoriously rude, undeniably fearless lampoon of all that is self-important and hypocritical in American life, regardless of race, creed, color or celebrity status," South Park was announced today as a recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award, arguably the most prestigious award in television news broadcasting.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (56 comments total)

 
I've always thought South Park was pretty much the most cutting edge show on TV.
posted by borkingchikapa at 5:46 PM on April 5, 2006


Holy crap.

I don't know if I should stand up to applaud and cheer or if I should throw well-ripened tomatos and jeer - at who, I dunno - or even perhaps cower in a dark corner wondering where we all went wrong.

Screw it. Time for some Beefcake.
posted by loquacious at 5:48 PM on April 5, 2006


I actually preferred the old South Park with its utter lack of topicality. While knocking out and airing a Terry Schiavo episode while the she's still alive (!) is fairly impressive, I can't help but think of how unwatchable the later episodes will be even a decade from now. Plus the whole topicality thing seems to have degenerated into a sort-of "let's make fun of whoever we're angry at this week," e.g. Scientology, talent agents, and television executives.
posted by Ndwright at 5:50 PM on April 5, 2006


Well deserved, especially for the past few seasons.

You really think "Best Friends Forever" won't hold up over time? The war in heaven? The "Last Starfighter" thing with Kenny and the PSP? "They have a Keanu Reeves"? Wow, ok. I felt that worked on a lot of levels, as with most of the other "topical" episodes. There's enough going on that it's not just a one note joke that freezes everything in a certain time period..
posted by First Post at 5:59 PM on April 5, 2006


Bill O'rielly (who claimed to have a Peabody). 0
Trey Parker and Matt Stone ........................ 1


ha ha
posted by Megafly at 6:02 PM on April 5, 2006


Amen. One of the most important contributions to a free society, and one of the most important applications of our First Amendment, is courageous, good-natured, insightful parody — and South Park is currently the best in that business.
posted by cribcage at 6:02 PM on April 5, 2006


I actually preferred the old South Park with its utter lack of topicality. While knocking out and airing a Terry Schiavo episode while the she's still alive (!) is fairly impressive, I can't help but think of how unwatchable the later episodes will be even a decade from now.

That's actually exactly how I feel, too. I find the award kind of interesting because as far as quality of writing the episodes about an actual generic funny topic are much better. When the DVDs started coming out I just thought to myself "really, who the hell wants to watch the Elian Gonzales episode in 2003?" The softball episode from last year was their finest work, in my opinion, not the silly "gotcha" Chef episode they did the other week.

That said, there's never been an animated program that tunes itself to current events so quickly and frequently. It's basically the first full-length animated news opinion magazine, and that deserves credit even if only on the technical level.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:03 PM on April 5, 2006


heh, megafly, I was gonna chime in here with a "big deal, Bill O'Reilly won one of those!" joke, but you beat me to the punch.
posted by jonson at 6:07 PM on April 5, 2006


I'm not knockin' South Park or its deservedness -- deservedity? -- but it wasn't the only fictional creation honoured. Also getting Peabodys were Boston legal, House, The Shield (?) and... Battlestar Galactica.
posted by docgonzo at 6:09 PM on April 5, 2006


On one hand, excellent news - on the other hand, sad news. As much as I appreciate South Park and the Daily Show for their occasionally devastatingly spot-on critiques, it's depressing that television news broadcasting awards have come to this. I'm sure Murrow et al. would have some choice words to say on the topic of them winning.

Comedy tells the truth, but how has it replaced the institution of journalism?! *old fogey moment, goes back to rocking chair*
posted by rmm at 6:10 PM on April 5, 2006


Comedy tells the truth, but how has it replaced the institution of journalism?!

Exactly the reason why I might choose to cower in a dark corner wondering where we all went wrong.

What the hell happened to the US that the best news programs we have left are cartoons or comedy shows that have to resort to speaking in code and hiding behind the permeable umbrella of satire?

I guess it's not really anything new, but, damn.
posted by loquacious at 6:16 PM on April 5, 2006


Boston legal Got a Peabody?

Man. I don thin that means what they thin it means.

I don't have cable and don't watch much TV. I came late to South Park via seeing the movie at a theater with out ever having seen it before. My friend Gary and I were the ONLY ones in the theater. 25 seconds into Uncle Fucker I remember thinking "Holy SHIT! This is on TV!?" Having been raised rather unconventionally as both (and neither) a Mormon and a Catholic I was actually afraid we'd get struck by lightening during some of it.

Since then we have been NetFlixing it. And it has gone way down hill in the sense that it's simply frat-boyish and predictably nasty. IMHO it has lost some of that charm of really "getting" childhood from the perspective of the characters in favor being mean spirited and nasty.

It's interesting that it's now "mainstream" - what does that say is going to be cutting edge next?
posted by tkchrist at 6:28 PM on April 5, 2006


Also, a 17 year old kid got a Peabody for the report "How Far Will the Army Go" on Denver channel 4
posted by Megafly at 6:28 PM on April 5, 2006


Hella awsooome.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:42 PM on April 5, 2006


Screw you guys. I'm going home.
posted by ColdChef at 6:44 PM on April 5, 2006


I'm sure Murrow et al. would have some choice words to say on the topic of them winning.

Murrow wouldn't be able to get a job at CBS these days. Kind of ... dour. Not perky. Nope, we need ... perky.
posted by swell at 6:44 PM on April 5, 2006


Hey, c'mon it's WAY late for April Fool's posts. Sheesh.
posted by The Deej at 6:57 PM on April 5, 2006


"Bold" isn't the word I'd use for a show that always cops out and sits on the fence wimpishly concluding "you're both right". That's not bold, that's wimping out to avoid losing market share.

The only time southpark will ever takes a stand on something is when they mock something that doesn't apply to their viewers, such as making fun of some celebrity, ie, when it's completely safe.

I love the show, but it's gutlessness on "issues" bugs me - if you're going to make a point, don't then take it back and say everyone is right, make a point.

If southpark is the boldest we've got, we're in trouble.
Ok, yeah, I guess it was obvious that we've been in trouble for quite some time now :-)

OTOH, southpark is definitely "bold" on the language / potty humour front, at least by free-to-air USA television standards. But that's not really the kind of bold that holds much merit. That's the easy kind of bold.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:20 PM on April 5, 2006


Actually, I should temper that - they sometimes conclude "you're both right - in a way", suggesting you're both also partly wrong. Such as the Morman episode, which boiled down to "Yes we think the morman story sounds dumb, but it works so it's good" and "Just because the morman story sounds dumb doesn't mean you should be a dick about it".
Not totally gutless, but not very bold either.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:28 PM on April 5, 2006


I should note that I posted my earlier comment praising South Park before I realized this week's episode would conclude with, "Come back next week to find out what happens!" Now I think it sucks.
posted by cribcage at 7:38 PM on April 5, 2006


Learn how to spell, Mormon.
posted by loquacious at 7:38 PM on April 5, 2006


The only time southpark will ever takes a stand on something is when they mock something that doesn't apply to their viewers, such as making fun of some celebrity, ie, when it's completely safe.

Ummm. Did you see tonight's episode? About taking a stand on free speech and showing depictions of Muhammad in a cartoon?

The suggestion is that next week "South Park" will show a caricature of Muhammad in order to (possibly) incur the wrath of Muslims worldwide. And their suggestion that Americans only bury their heads in the sand to avoid the problem seems right on the mark. They even discuss whether it is worth the loss of life to make a point on the freedoms of expression that America is founded on.

Say what you want, but that's far from a "safe" stand.
posted by ColdChef at 8:06 PM on April 5, 2006


I should note that I posted my earlier comment praising South Park before I realized this week's episode would conclude with, "Come back next week to find out what happens!" Now I think it sucks.

If (as cribcage suggests) that the "stay tuned" part was a cop-out, then yes, this episode does suck. But I think they've got something bolder in mind.
posted by ColdChef at 8:08 PM on April 5, 2006


Dammit! I forgot to watch South Park tonight!
posted by yhbc at 8:12 PM on April 5, 2006


The combined superpowers of Shatner and Spader make "Boston Legal" worthy of whatever awards it gets.

Tonight's "South Park" was another great one. It's working on so many levels it's almost Joycean, especially if you've been following the things that have been happening behind the scenes with the show lately. Plus they got plenty of funny licks in on "Family Guy", heh.

If you're not feelin' it, I can't help ya. Not everybody likes everything, I suppose. But for myself (and, apparently, a few others), it's really a treat to have a show of this caliber to watch every week.
posted by First Post at 8:20 PM on April 5, 2006


Get a Tivo, Commish! (this episode will be repeated later tonight and several times this weekend.)
posted by ColdChef at 8:24 PM on April 5, 2006


Joycean?
Are you fucking kidding me?
posted by papakwanz at 8:26 PM on April 5, 2006


Comedy tells the truth, but how has it replaced the institution of journalism?!

Despite what the FPP says, I can find nothing at the Peabody site that restricts the award to news or journalism.

The awards recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious service by radio and television networks, stations, producing organizations, cable television organizations and individuals, which could be just about anything, not merely news...
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:34 PM on April 5, 2006


Simpsons did it!
posted by Otis at 8:35 PM on April 5, 2006


If (as cribcage suggests) that the "stay tuned" part was a cop-out...

Dude, I'm not suggesting anything. I'm flat-out saying, "To Be Continued" episodes S-U-C-K. If you're writing a half-hour show, wrap that shit up in 30 minutes. I'm not watching Days Of Our Lives, here.
posted by cribcage at 8:50 PM on April 5, 2006


Except, of course, that the reason why it is "to be continued" is so that Comedy Central will have a week to decide if they're going to let "South Park" get away with inciting a holy war.

(If, as I said, this turns out to be the case.)
posted by ColdChef at 8:57 PM on April 5, 2006


Also getting Peabodys were Boston legal, House, The Shield (?) and... Battlestar Galactica.
posted by docgonzo at 8:09 PM CST on April 5 [!]


Oh, so basically Peabody awards now are like trophies at the Special Olympics. Everybody gets one.

South Park is usually brilliant, and often absurd. It's not for everybody, and that's part of what it is. Family Guy is never brilliant, but usually hilarious. That also is part of what it is, and also why it just isn't for some people. I'm a huge fan of both.

South Park has great episodes and mediocre episodes, but 10 years later, there's still nothing like it on television.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:14 PM on April 5, 2006


As a South Park fan from the beginning (yeah, the internet postcards of Santa and Jesus...) i lost the love of South Park about three seasons in. And the love came flooding back with the genius episode that had Jesus rescue Santa (calling homage to Lethal Weapon, Three Kings, and several others that i'm forgetting).

It may be too topical, but i still really appreciate what Matt and Trey do every couple of weeks.

And once in a while they mess with me and have a Butters moment that harkens back to Predator, which is just damn funny.

So, here i have to go with, Suck it, Haters!

[and to this day ColdChef still can crack me up with a single post.]
posted by quin at 9:34 PM on April 5, 2006


"Bold" isn't the word I'd use for a show that always cops out and sits on the fence wimpishly concluding "you're both right".

I've always understood those show-ending denouements as a running-joke parody of the kind of wimpy bullshit conflict resolution that most of TV actually does offer. Perhaps I give them too much credit.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:41 PM on April 5, 2006


The FPP is somewhat inaccurate; the Peabody Awards are not strictly for news programming, and have recognized excellence in dramatic and entertainment programming practically from its inception. As the previously linked Wikipedia list of winners shows, one of the first recipients of the award for Outstanding Entertainment in Drama was Against The Storm, a radio soap opera aired on NBC affiliates. The show received the award in 1941, the second running of the Peabodys and the first year individual programs were recognized. Other dramatic/fictional winners include A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Mr. Roger's Neighbourhood (1968), M*A*S*H (1975) and The Cosby Show (1986).

I was going to mention that the recognition of Battlestar Galactica was a first for science fiction television, which is never considered to be quality television. But it turns out I was wrong; an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation won in 1987. As for South Park, good on 'em. It's a far more controversial and genuinely interesting show than most everything else on television today. In fact, the only winner I don't understand at all is Boston Public (though I must admit to being confused about House as well—but hey, if St. Elsewhere gets a Peabody...).
posted by chrominance at 10:03 PM on April 5, 2006


Wait, hang on. Obviously I've got Boston Legal (the actual winning show, a David E. Kelley legal drama that used to be called The Practice) and Boston Public (another David E. Kelley drama about a high school). Hilariously, both shows, in addition to having Boston in the name and being the creations of David E. Kelley, have also both won Peabodys; Boston Public won in 2002 for an episode entitled "Chapter Thirty-Seven."

Without having seen the episode, I can't say for sure, but I choose to stand by my statement of suckitude.
posted by chrominance at 10:15 PM on April 5, 2006


Amen. One of the most important contributions to a free society, and one of the most important applications of our First Amendment, is courageous, good-natured, insightful parody — and South Park is currently the best in that business. --Cribcage

I agree.

South Park says things that need to be said. Sometimes they do present their fair amount of fart jokes, and sometimes they're just downright obscene. But, by the end of most episodes, they have made a statement that has real substance, and real value for the public.

In any case, South Park is great..

Now, Kenny, there are velociraptors here, here, and here...
posted by Raoul.Duke at 10:48 PM on April 5, 2006


Count me as another person who watched it religiously for a few years and then ignored it for quite a few more; recently, however, I've come back to it and discovered that it's actually an excellent show and in a lot of ways better than it ever was. There are some classic moments that may not be topped, but it's definitely a thousand times smarter than its simple-minded "it's all fart jokes and swear words" critics.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:55 PM on April 5, 2006


Eric Cartman is the most fully realized fictional character since King Lear.

OK, I don't really believe that.

But the fact that Robert Smith of The Cure was the only person who could defeat MechaStreisand was really funny.

And I like their almost polemical centrist stance: they spend much of the show making fun of lefties, then present a rightie dystopia; and the resolution is always, "SEE?"

I agree the topicality has gotten out of hand, but in one way, that's the joy of it. We have to wait months before the Simpsons chime in with an opinion, and by then the topic is stale. South Park manages to do it astoundingly quickly.

And you can all "suck my balls......"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:19 PM on April 5, 2006


The Shield (?)

Yeah, The Shield. Easily one of the best dramas on TV at the moment. House is the only one on that list that makes me raise an eyebrow, but even that is fairly compelling, within it's format.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:29 AM on April 6, 2006


ColdChef, if I remember right, "Muhammad" (whatever, however you want to spell that) has already appeared on South Park.

Oh, and I live right close to the real South Park and it's really not all that great. Just like the show.
posted by Eekacat at 2:24 AM on April 6, 2006


err, Just like the show portrays. I like the show just fine. But man, what a great insult wasted...
posted by Eekacat at 2:25 AM on April 6, 2006


Except, of course, that the reason why it is "to be continued" is so that Comedy Central will have a week to decide if they're going to let "South Park" get away with inciting a holy war.

(If, as I said, this turns out to be the case.)


Which would be a bit disturbing, really. That would make it the second out of three episodes this season they felt a need to generate some controversial build-up for for ratings (the first being the "return of Chef" nonsense they floated). It's ironic given that "they're going to say SHIT... twice!" episode a few years back that basically made fun of all the shock-value ratings grabbing they're aiming for now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:06 AM on April 6, 2006


Oh, so basically Peabody awards now are like trophies at the Special Olympics. Everybody gets one.


And from what I've read upthread, Bill O'Reilly hasn't gotten one -- and has lied that he has?

That's sad.

Heh, heh.
posted by pax digita at 6:02 AM on April 6, 2006


Well deserved.
posted by fungible at 6:14 AM on April 6, 2006


Parker and Stone can be so, so ham-fisted at driving home their peeve of the week, and the episodes that they do this in tend to be, for me, the worst. The Scientologist episode, in my mind, was pretty poor because it didn't to anything remotely clever in panning them. They actually did a much better job in the more recent Death-of-Chef episode with the Super Adventure Club. It was still pretty blatant, but a more incisive critique of the church because it was more back-handed.

Their best episodes, and they're still making good ones, are the silly ones, without a big agenda. My favourite episode remains 'It's Butters!'. Unlike say, Family Guy, they can create a pretty great story, and the jokes serve the plot.
posted by picea at 7:01 AM on April 6, 2006


The Scientologist episode, in my mind, was pretty poor because it didn't to anything remotely clever in panning them.

I feel exactly the opposite. I thought the "This is what Scientologists actually believe" section was pure genius.

They can't sue you if you are accurately representing their beliefs. And accurately representing their beliefs was much more damning than any parody they could ever manufacture.

The fact the credits listed every production member as John Smith or Jane Smith was an added flair.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:55 AM on April 6, 2006


Optimus Chyme: me too.

For instance, I missed all the Butters episodes. Pretty funny! I definitely like the episodes with the kids just talking trash on each other more than the crazy zany stuff.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:58 AM on April 6, 2006


For anyone still wondering about Boston Legal inclusion on the list, I think it's for this episode (google video), which made it on to the intarwebtron a few weeks ago.

And kudos to Battlestar Galactica. It's like The West Wing, IN SPAAACE.
posted by eurasian at 8:39 AM on April 6, 2006


"Bold" isn't the word I'd use for a show that always cops out and sits on the fence wimpishly concluding "you're both right".

I disagree, often they are suggesting that there is a decent middle ground between two opposing views. Often it seems people focus on the two extreme sides, to me, South Park presents a rarely heard Moderate view, which makes the whole South Park Conservative thing funny to me.
posted by drezdn at 9:48 AM on April 6, 2006


drezdn : "decent middle ground between two opposing views"

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!
posted by graventy at 11:12 AM on April 6, 2006


All: Watch The Boondocks. Think South Park with production values and something to say.
posted by effugas at 12:15 PM on April 6, 2006


South Park does not present a "moderate" view, for the most part. They present the view of the ignorant Everyman who thinks that in every debate just take a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B and smush them together to get the truth.

Occasionally, they will do a great job of expressing the common citizen's frustration with partisan politics and truly put forth a position of moderate compromise. I'm thinking here in particular of the Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich episode, which brilliantly 1) poked fun at the involvement of celebrities in politics, 2) expressed the frustration many feel of being faced with generally unappealing candidates in just about every election, 3) expressed the old adage (Churchill's I think) about democracy being the least evil form of government because, hey, at least we get some say in things, so we should go ahead and get involved, and 4) lampooned PETA, who are always deserving of scorn and derision.

(And I'm not trying to say that "ignorant" thing an elitist way. Most people, myself included, can't possibly be educated on every issue. Matt and Trey just seem to be uneducated on many, many issues. Take their stance on global warming as an example of their ignorance at its worst. Team America, while hilarious, also suffered from the same wishy-washiness over taking a stand.)

And effugas has it right: The Boondocks is the best political/social satire on TV today.
posted by papakwanz at 12:44 PM on April 6, 2006


Papakwanz: I think South Park doesn't express the everyman viewpoint. Take for example the Immigration episode where the people where coming from the near future to get jobs in South Park. The everyman was clearly lambasted by the "Theirtakingourjorbs!" chorus.

When it's on, it's really on, when it's off though, the show can be terrible (last night was pretty blah).
posted by drezdn at 1:14 PM on April 6, 2006


Eekacat, initially I thought you were referring to the Bin Landen appearence, but now that I think on it, there was the religous superfriends appearence...So yes, South Park has already depicted Mohammed in cartoon form.
posted by nomisxid at 3:32 PM on April 6, 2006


I just watched this week's episode on Tivo. I thought it was genius. Every line in the show drips irony, and they rip on Family Guy, one of the few things on which I would concur with Cartman. The two-parter was great only because they got to say the line "Will Comedy Central puss out?" Has anyone ever seen a network air a rip on themselves so blatantly?

My question to MeFi: What movie were they biting in the whole Hot Wheels sequence? It seems so obvious, yet it escapes me.
posted by fungible at 8:50 PM on April 6, 2006


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