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Let kids see South Park

Rafael Olmeda
It's been a while since I sat down and watched a full episode of South Park. One was on the other night. Stan's father, Randy, was on "Wheel of Fortune." The category was "People Who Annoy You." Only one letter was missing. The first letter was "N." The last five letters were "GGERS."

Unfortunately, Randy did not give the correct answer, which would have been "naggers."

The answer he did give prompted the dumbfounded looks that have become a trademark of the series. It also served as a springboard for a devastating assault on political correctness and the culture of offense, apology, victimization and demonization.

That's not why I kept watching. I kept watching because it was funny. Shockingly funny. "Oh-my-God-I-shouldn't-be-laughing-but-how-could-I-not" funny.

But should kids watch it?

Years ago, I refused to allow my nephew and niece to watch the South Park movie, despite the fact that I owned a copy and considered it a brilliant treatise on censorship and a powerful admonition aimed at parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children, instead finding blame in government, movies, television, society and Canada.

Their mom let them watch the movie anyway. And the kids lived. And I think part of it had to do with the fact that their mom was there. They were able to talk about what they saw. Personally, I think they were too young at the time (they were pre-teens). I'd have waited until they were teenagers. But that wasn't my call.

And it's not my call whether you let your kids watch it either. It's yours. And no one else's.

The point is moot in my household: I'm the only one who finds that particular brand of humor amusing, and even then it's only half the time. When it comes to this type of thing, I'm a committed member of the "if you don't like it, watch something else" camp. (Yes, you will catch me rumbling about the things that are said on certain news and commentary shows, but that's not what we're talking about here). I don't think South Park is always funny. That episode with Cartman's hand pretending to be Jennifer Lopez? Not funny. Towelie? Not funny. Tweak the caffeine addict and the Underpants Gnomes? Hysterical.

Disagree? Cool.

Honestly, I think we need to stop pretending that our teens and pre-teens are these innocent, fragile-eared cherubim and start recognizing that when our backs are turned, they hear everything we try to shield them from. And often, they're the ones saying these things. "Kids are not nice, innocent, flower-loving little rainbow children," co-creator Matt Stone said in a 1999 interview with the BBC. "Kids are all little bastards; they don't have any kind of social tact or etiquette."

So what does it all mean?

It means that, yes, we need to worry about what our kids are picking up from television. But more importantly, we need to be sure that we're the ones passing on the values we find important. No television show can do that for us, and if we do our jobs right, no television show can take it away.

By the way, do you like fishsticks?

Categories: Entertainment (114), Rafael Olmeda 2010 (42)


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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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