Although some may believe that irony and satire are on their last legs in American pop culture, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are doing their best to keep them alive. And, last night at least, being recognized for it.
South Park was named as one of 32 winners of the prestigious Peabody Award. The profane and lacerating show made even more headlines recently when Isaac Hayes quit, citing the producer’s purported intolerance of Scientology. In an episode that Comedy Central has since pulled from the air, Parker and Stone took aim at Tom Cruise, John Travolta and other celebrity church members.
The Peabody committee at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications rewarded the show for an episode centering on a Terry Schiavo-type case. Schiavo was the severely brain-damaged woman whose family and husband fought for a decade about whether or not to remove her from life-support.
For ten years, South Park has poked a satirical stick at Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the Catholic Church, Cruise, Scientology and many others.
“The judges felt that (the Schiavo episode) was a bold program that probably offends just about everybody at some point and in doing so reminds us that we need to be tolerant,” says awards director Horace Newcomb. “It’s also consistent in its insistence on noncensorship.” Newcomb said the decision was unanimous.
HBO Family’s animated special Classical Baby, ITVS’ animated offering A Room Nearby, SCI FI Channel’s Battlestar Galactica, FOX’s House, ABC’s Boston Legal, BBC America’s Viva Blackpool series, HBO’s movie Yesterday, BBC’s Bleak House and FX’s The Shield were among the other winners. Jon Stewart will host the 65th Annual Peabody Awards on June 5 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. For more info, visit www.peabody.uga.edu.