TV shows

If ‘South Park’ is 20, there is only one reason: No holy cows

How Trey Parker and Matt Stone made it for the long haul. Parental advisory: explicit content.

My first visit to South Park was the animated short The Spirit of Christmas: Jesus vs Santa. I was fresh from art school and working as a 3D animator, producing “cut-scene” narrative shorts for computer games for some of the biggest companies in the field. We were mostly animating life-like characters, striving for photorealism within the limitations of the software of the time. Then came Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny.

Jesus vs Santa went around the studio like wildfire. It was one of the first viral videos I can remember. Animators, artists, writers, programmers and managers huddled around monitors to watch an animation made from crude – really crude – stop-motion style cut-out paper and cardboard.

In true South Park style, it was a highly un-politically correct and sweary yarn that was really just an excuse for an extended fight sequence between Jesus and Santa Claus over the true meaning of Christmas:

JESUS: Christmas is for celebrating my birthday.
SANTA: Christmas is for giving.
JESUS: I’m here to put an end to your blasphemy.
SANTA (tossing kid off his knee and rising to his feet): This time we finish it. There can be only one.
STAN to KYLE: Dude, this is some pretty fucked up shit right here.
(Battle commences)

Trey Parker and Matt Stone made Jesus vs Santa in 1995, having met at the University of Colorado Boulder. They had already made another South Park short, The Spirit of Christmas: Jesus vs Frosty in 1992, plus various other short films, including musicals.

But it was Jesus vs Santa that really got the young filmmakers noticed. It won them a highly prestigious best animation award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association in 1996. On the back of the success, Parker and Stone were commissioned to develop some episodes for Comedy Central.

South Park premiered on August 13, 1997, starting as it meant to continue with Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. By episode four, Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride, Comedy Central had committed to a full series and the show was on the way to becoming a sensation.

While conservatives were horrified, ratings kept growing. As well as the unique blend of playground filth and razor-sharp observation, it had a great voice cast – with Parker and Stone joined by the likes of soul singer Isaac Hayes as Chef McIlroy. The first season went on to win numerous accolades, including five Primetime Emmy awards and a Peabody award. A new production pipeline was soon on the way.

South Park.

South Park’s arrival ruffled the feathers of certain animation studios whose higher production values and costs were not winning those sought-after awards. Yet the sudden demand for episodes did force Parker and Stone into a rethink, since physical cut-out stop motion is crushingly time-consuming and could not be sustained for a full season.

They turned to to the same 3D software we were using in the games industry, taking great care to recreate the original look (initially using PowerAnimator, but later Autodesk’s Maya). This meant they could do an episode in three weeks, and later they streamlined the process down to a one-week turnaround. With other animations commissioned months in advance of transmission, this was unheard of.

It meant South Park could be highly topical, which was another thing that made the show unique. During the 2000 US presidential elections, for example, South Park ran an episode in which a deadlocked vote for class president spoofed what happened with Bush and Gore. And in 2005, the show famously turned on Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology in Trapped in the Closet, getting them sued for their trouble.

Many critics were quick to label South Park a flash in the pan when it started; a gimmick that would tire quickly. Yet, 20 years later, the show is still going strong – and still highly controversial. Season 20 had Donald Trump in its crosshairs and just kept firing, earning some high ratings along the way.

When Season 21 starts next month, Stone and Parker are promising something of a return to stupid-kid basics. With the show currently commissioned up to season 23 in 2019, headlines of Oh My God They Killed South Park will have to wait a little while yet.

Throughout the show, there have never been sacred cows. Nothing in politics, race relations or religion is off limits. One favourite target is Canadians, who always get depicted as morons with heads that bounce up and down. They really got it in the neck when the feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut came out in 1999 – particularly in the musical interludes Blame Canada and Uncle Fucker. This didn’t stop the movie from making a good profit worldwide, and Blame Canada even got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

South Park.

South Park will never be to everyone’s taste, but it has endured because of the creators’ unapologetic approach to controversy. The characters comment on our society in surprising depth and in ways that other animations would not get away with. The scripts work on a number of levels, and Parker and Stone still have a hands-on approach to the show, so their voices are still heard.

It is a reminder that for all the flashy CG imagery we have become so used to, viewers still heavily identify with a show which could have been produced by someone in their bedroom with a cheap video camera and some cut-out paper and scissors. It’s substance over style, dude. Now get back in the kitchen and make me some pie.

Phillip Vaughan, Director MSc Animation and VFX, University of Dundee.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

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Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch. For those of you just looking for a high quality fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge has Rs. 4500 off on 22nd September.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of and not by the Scroll editorial team.