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The Invisible Hand in Popular CultureLiberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV$
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Paul A. Cantor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813140827

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813140827.001.0001

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Cartman Shrugged

Cartman Shrugged

The Invisible Gnomes and the Invisible Hand in South Park

(p.189) 6 Cartman Shrugged
The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture

Paul A. Cantor

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter Six defends one of the most offensive shows in television history—South Park—against its many critics. It argues that the vulgarity, obscenity, and blasphemy of the show have deep roots in a tradition of philosophical comedy that stretches back to such figures as Aristophanes, Rabelais, and Mark Twain. Comedy is by nature transgressive, and South Park derives its bite and its energy from the way it violates contemporary norms of political correctness. The chapter focuses on episodes of South Park that defend large corporations against the charge that they compete unfairly. Instead, the show suggests that small businesses enlist government on their side to ban outside competition and thereby to restrict consumer choice artificially. The chapter analyzes South Park as consciously libertarian in its viewpoint; the show rejects both liberals and conservatives insofar as they seek to restrict freedom.

Keywords:   South Park, Aristophanes, Rabelais, Mark Twain, comedy, political correctness, libertarian

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