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Entertainment Earth

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Entertainment Earth

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"I bet that Kenny kid has trouble getting insurance."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

SOUTHPARK

South Park is an American animated television series created, written and voiced by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Distributed by and airing on Comedy Central since 1997, it follows the adventures of four grade school boys who live in the small town of South Park, Colorado. South Park satirizes (sometimes surreally) many aspects of American culture, and challenges deep-seated convictions and taboos, usually employing merciless pop-culture parody and black comedy and is known for its characteristically blunt, provocative and frequently offensive handling of current events. On April 5, 2006, it was announced that the show had won a Peabody Award. This is the third Comedy Central show to win, following two awarded to The Daily Show for its 2000 and 2004 presidential election coverage and one given to Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1994.

South Park began in 1992 when Parker and Stone, then film students at the University of Colorado, created an animated short called Jesus vs. Frosty. The crudely-made film featured prototypical versions of the kids of South Park, including a character resembling Cartman but called 'Kenny' and an unnamed character that resembles Kenny bringing a murderous snowman to life with a magic hat.

South Park began in 1992 when Parker and Stone, then film students at the University of Colorado, created an animated short called Jesus vs. Frosty. The crudely-made film featured prototypical versions of the kids of South Park, including a character resembling Cartman but called 'Kenny' and an unnamed character that resembles Kenny bringing a murderous snowman to life with a magic hat.

Executives at FOX saw the movie, and in 1995, executive Brian Graden commissioned Parker and Stone to create a second short film to send to friends as a video Christmas card. Titled The Spirit of Christmas, it closely resembled the style of the later series, and featured a martial arts duel and subsequent truce between Jesus and Santa Claus (two characters who have since been recurring characters in the series) over the true meaning of Christmas. This video was later featured in the episode "A Very Crappy Christmas" in which Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, Mr. Hankey and his family 'save' Christmas. The video was a hit and was quickly shared, both by underground duplication and over the burgeoning Internet. This led to talks to create a series, first with FOX, then with Comedy Central, where the series premiered on August 13, 1997. A clip of the short can actually be seen in the opening sequence for the series contained within a billboard. The first short can also be seen during the opening sequence on an old television.

The characters and backgrounds of South Park are crude; in fact, paper cut-outs were used in the original pilot Parker/Stone animation and in the very first Comedy Central episode. Every subsequent episode aired on TV has been produced by computer animation that provides the same look, though the animation has arguably become less crude over time. The style of animation used for South Park was inspired by the paper cut-out cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Trey Parker and Matt Stone are lifelong fans. For perspective, the average episode of The Simpsons takes eight weeks to create, while episodes of South Park have been completed in as little as three days (which explains why current events that occur mere days before episode airdates are often included, such as the capture of Saddam Hussein).

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The main characters of the show are four elementary school students (often called "the boys" when as a group for easier reference):

Stanley "Stan" Marsh
Often the "straight man" of the group. Generally good natured and clear-thinking, Stan usually tries to come up with logical solutions to their outrageous situations. Designed as the alter-ego for co-creator Trey Parker, Stan often summarizes the message or moral of the episode. He is best friends with Kyle and their relationship is central to several episodes.

Kyle Broflovski
Easy-going, Jewish, skeptical, intelligent and at times short-tempered. Kyle is effectively the alter-ego of co-creator Matt Stone. Along with Stan, Kyle often provides a reasonable perspective on the crazy behavior of the adult world around them. Kyle is often depicted as the most moral member of the four. Kyle wears a bright green ear-flapped cap (or ushanka), a bright orange polyester jacket with black-edged pockets with a dark green collar, dark green pants, and lime-green mittens. He is rarely shown without his cap, but underneath it, he sports a curly red 'Jew-fro', first seen in the episode "How to Eat with Your Butt", a hairstyle which he seems to resent (it is likely based upon the hair of series co-creator Matt Stone). He enjoys TV shows like The Terrance and Phillip Show and Family Guy.

Eric Theodore Cartman
Based on Archie Bunker, and almost always the catalyst for the plot, Cartman is campy, aggressive, greedy, bigoted, self-centered, overweight, rude, racist, and manipulative. He regularly insults Kyle for being Jewish and Kenny for being poor. His pretentious and sociopathic ways often cause him to be disdained by the other boys, who don't quite know why they put up with him. Cartman commonly acts in a manner directly opposed to, or against, that of the other boys. He also demonstrates an uncanny ability as a businessman and leader, and is sometimes seen dressed in a way that mimics Adolf Hitler, whom it is thought Cartman idolizes to some extent because of his anti-Semitic views. Cartman also occasionally serves as a mouthpiece for some of Parker and Stone's more extreme, conservative commentary, and has a rabid dislike for hippies. Every episode in which he appears to be doing something good ends with his true motives being revealed. This is particularly evident in the two part episode Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?. Cartman also shows a fair proficiency for Spanish in numerous episodes.

Kenneth "Kenny" McCormick
Kenny is the mis-understood kid who comes from a poverty-stricken family. He is the most perverted of the four boys and is often sought out for answers when the other boys encounter a sexual term they have never heard before. His speech is difficult to understand due to the fact that his hood is closed around his face, although all of his lines are real dialogue that are always understood by Stan, Kyle and Eric; however in some episodes, Kenny's dialogue is visible by closed captioning. The show's oldest gimmick is Stan shouting, "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" followed by Kyle responding, "You bastards!" whenever Kenny is killed. During the first five seasons, Kenny served as the eternal victim; routinely killed in a number of grotesque ways meant to entertain during each episode, only to inexplicably reappear alive in the next episode. Parker and Stone let Kenny live in only one episode from the first season ("Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo"). At the end of Season 5, Kenny was more permanently killed off. Parker and Stone explained at the time that this was due to their feeling creatively boxed in by the requirement to kill Kenny in each episode. In season 6 he is replaced by Butters and Tweek as the boys' "fourth friend". However, due to Kenny's lasting popularity, they brought him back for the seventh season (so Kenny went one season without appearing), and now he no longer dies (except on the very occasional episode).

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