Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

South Park's Foul Language Makes Trey Parker And Matt Stone More Creative

No one had ever seen anything like "South Park" before it began. Part "The Simpsons," part "Beavis and Butt-Head," and part "All in the Family," the animated series wore its influences on its sleeve but had a flavor all its own. From its humble beginnings of a VHS video short being passed around Hollywood to a blockbuster movie event with "South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut," the show rose above controversy and became a pop culture juggernaut.

While fans may claim that there are times when "South Park" went too far, the goal of the show isn't based on shocking or alienating fans. Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have gone out of their way to say that they don't actually want to offend their audience. Back when the show first came to be, parents were disgusted by a show that featured kids and their potty mouths. The creators, however, found it more creatively satisfying figuring out what their characters like Kenny, Cartman, Stan, and Kyle could say instead of swearing.

The kids could be foul without swearing

In a vintage interview from 1997 for Bikini Magazine (via PaulSemel.com), Matt Stone explained that the foul language the kids in "South Park" use forced he and fellow co-creator Trey Parker to be more creative and is rooted in authenticity. The interview was conducted before the influential and controversial series even debuted, so the concept of showing kids swearing so much on TV was still shocking for late-'90s audiences. Stone explained, "On Comedy Central, we can't say 'f***' and we can't say 's***' ... it's actually made the show better."

Later in the show's run, during its golden age in Season 5, "South Park" actually followed in the footsteps of CBS with their milestone episode of "Chicago Hope" and made an episode where they could indeed say "s***" on Comedy Central. Being "South Park," of course, they said it 162 times, but it broke down barriers, leading to today when characters on shows like "American Horror Story" and "The Walking Dead" can say swear words on television all the time.

Despite being purveyors of bad taste, Stone said that Parker and himself think relying on cursing is a bit of a crutch. He said, "It really works in five minutes, but if that's [what] you do for 22 minutes for 13 episodes and all you have is a bunch of cussing, it just gets old. It hasn't even been a challenge; it's just made us more creative, because we actually have to think of real jokes." Fans have noticed over the years that a well-placed censor sound effect can be way funnier than hearing the real swear word. Even with more leniency on language in 2023, "South Park" will still bleep a word they can technically say on TV for comedic effect.

South Park was smart enough to know that kids swear when left alone

Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker being forced to creatively think of more ways for the "South Park" children Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny to be foul without swearing also led to more authenticity. Stone said, "If you happen to walk in on a bunch of little third graders, they're cussing their brains out. They love it. That's the only words they use. But they use them in a way that's kind of wrong, 'cause they don't really understand the words." He goes on to say that swearing runs in the family and he had a specific example proving his point about kids swearing a lot. He said, "My little cousin, man: dirtiest mouth of anybody I know."

Stone admitted that he doesn't remember why they didn't try to take the show over to HBO before it landed with Comedy Central so that they could get away with more, but he said overall that he's glad they didn't. He said that had a great experience with the network they landed on because they had total creative freedom. Being on a cable channel with "Comedy" in the name meant that they only had one task that Stone and Parker were happy to meet, and that was just to be funny. And "South Park" has been funny and going strong for Comedy Central for 25 years and counting.