Trey Parker and Matt Stone Convinced Comedy Central To Let ‘South Park’ Say This Word as ‘A Political Statement’
South Park has broken a lot of ground in its 23 seasons on Comedy Central. In the beginning, Trey Parker and Matt Stone pushed the raunch factor of The Simpsons and Beavis and Butt-Head even further. In the season 5 premiere, “It Hits the Fan,” South Park said sh*t unbleeped. And they didn’t just say it once.
When Season 5 came out on DVD, Parker and Stone gave a mini commentary at the top of the episode. They said they had to convince Comedy Central there was very good reason to say sh*t on South Park.
‘South Park’ didn’t just say it once
In 2001, you couldn’t say sh*t on broadcast television. Shows like NYPD Blue pushed those boundaries, but for the most part basic cable was following broadcast rules. So, in “It Hits the Fan,” the town of South Park is excited that Cop Drama is going to say the word on the air. The people of South Park get so excited about it they keep saying sh*t too.
“We had this idea to say sh*t on the show,” Parker said. “We were basically like, ‘Let’s say sh*t and let’s promote the hell out of it’ because this was the first show of the new season. So like what if we say sh*t and just promote it like crazy that we’re going to say sh*t? Comedy Central was like, ‘No, you can’t say sh*t.’ We went away and thought about it and then were like, ‘What if we say it like 200 times?’ They were like, ‘Well okay, that’s intriguing.’”
The political statement Trey Parker and Matt Stone made
The Cop Drama spoof was one thing. South Park says it way more times than NYPD Blue did, and the amount of curse words actually brings a curse upon South Park. The episode actually counts the number of times they say it and reaches 162.
Every time, we have to go in and think about how we can make a statement with it. So we’re like, ‘Well, what if we make a statement about saying sh*t?’ So we made a political statement about saying sh*t. We came up with all these different ideas and decided to have the counter in the bottom corner which was hard for us because the way we do the show, the number of times sh*t was said in the show changed about 400 times during the week that we were making it. At the last minute, we put a counter in the lower left corner. We didn’t know we would hit 162 until basically the night before it aired.Trey Parker, South Park Season 5 DVD commentary
Stone took umbrage with the acclaim NYPD Blue received for saying the word, too.
“The whole thing started because there was a cop drama, NYPD Blue and they said, ‘Sh*t happens on the air,’” Stone said. “There was a big deal about how bold and forward thinking ABC was. It was that thing that pisses us off. All of a sudden if you’re a serious show, or you’re high art, you can get away with saying sh*t but to do it in comedy was too lowbrow. Then Comedy Central let us do it, to their credit.”
‘South Park’ paved the way for way worse words
Years after South Park said sh*t 162 times, cable shows like Mr. Robot and American Crime Story have said the F and C words. South Park gets away with the F word now too.
“I think by now in South Park, we could probably get away with saying sh*t on the air,” Stone said back on the season 5 DVD.
Parker was already noticing the leniency circa 2005.
“Now there are a lot of shows on cable that are saying sh*t,” Parker said.