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Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper Has Nothing But Kind Words To Say About South Park

After more than a quarter of a century on the air, "South Park" has been many things to many people. For the average viewer, it's a crude but riotously funny animated series which frequently makes salient points about politics and culture through satire. For some of the public figures it has mocked, it's a thorn in the side. And to the people of Colorado, it's a cultural institution unto itself.

"South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker famously met while studying at the University of Colorado. The two created stop-motion animated short films using construction paper and an 8mm camera. Those goof-off projects would soon become the building blocks for "South Park," named after the real Colorado mountain valley in which the show is set. Parker and Stone have since been hailed as hometown heroes. In 2021, they purchased Casa Bonita, a Mexican restaurant in West Denver that was something of a local phenomenon before it gained widespread recognition as the subject of a "South Park" episode. And during a show celebrating the 25th anniversary of "South Park" at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Governor Jared Polis named August 10 "South Park Day" (via Westword).

Polis isn't the only local politician to sing the praises of "South Park." Among its many fans are current United States Senator and former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper, who expressed his favorable opinions of the animated series in a 2016 interview.

John Hickenlooper considers South Park as a form of journalism

In a 2016 interview roundup celebrating the 20th anniversary of "South Park," The Hollywood Reporter spoke with then-governor and current U.S. Senator for Colorado John Hickenlooper about the impact of the animated series. The local politician had nothing but praise for the show's creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and the exaggerated version of Colorado they portray in the series. "Trey and Matt are a rare breed," Hickenlooper said. "How many artists consistently create smart, incisive, and wickedly funny material? Let alone for 20 years straight?"

As Hickenlooper's kind words continued, the senator went on to frame "South Park" as serving in the same public role as journalism, a fourth estate that holds power accountable, saying, "We think of journalism as the unofficial fourth branch of government — a free, independent press is crucial to the success of our democracy. Likewise, satire is key to keeping our culture honest. 'South Park' keeps it real — and keeps us real — and we love it for that."

In recognizing the ability of "South Park" to influence opinion and point out misconduct, Hickenlooper places the show and its creators on a historical continuum alongside Jonathan Swift, Stanley Kubrick, and other important satirists of their times.