May 1, 2005


Conservatives Love 'South Park' (FRANK RICH, 5/01/05, NY Times)

Conservatives can't stop whining about Hollywood, but the embarrassing reality is that they want to be hip, too. It's not easy. In the showbiz wrangling sweepstakes of 2004, liberals had Leonardo DiCaprio, the Dixie Chicks and the Boss. The right had Bo Derek, Pat Boone and Jessica Simpson, who, upon meeting the secretary of the interior, Gale Norton, congratulated her for doing "a nice job decorating the White House." Ms. Simpson may be the last performer in America who can make Whoopi Goldberg seem like the soul of wit.

What to do? Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger's poll numbers have sunk, the right's latest effort to grab a piece of the showbiz action is a new and fast-selling book published by Regnery, home to the Swift Boat Veterans, and promoted in lock step by the right-wing media elite of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal's editorial page and The New York Post. South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias, by Brian C. Anderson of the conservative think tank the Manhattan Institute, gives a wet kiss to one of the funniest and most foul-mouthed series on television. The book has even been endorsed by the grim theologian Michael Novak, who presumably forgot to TiVo the "South Park" episode that holds the record for the largest number of bleeped-out repetitions (162) of a single four-letter expletive in a single television half-hour. Then again, The Weekly Standard has informed us that William Bennett, egged on by his children, has given the show a tentative thumbs up.

Conservatives generally applaud South Park for poking fun at liberals, but many of them also decry the show's bad language and gross antics. In other words, conservatives are able to carefully consider the show's merits and pitfalls and then render a balanced verdict that transcends either complete condemnation or unqualified support. It's true enough that conservatives are often willing to employ black-and-white moral judgmentalism, but they usually reserve it for weightier matters than a simple TV program.

This surely doesn't mesh with Mr. Rich's preconceived stereotypes about conservatives, but if his biases are hamstringing his judgment in this regard, that's his problem and not ours.

Posted by Matt Murphy at May 1, 2005 9:18 AM

Give me a break. For the leading Hollywood conservatives of '04 Frank Rich trots out the forgotten Bo Derek and Pat Boone and the forgettable Jessica Simpson.

Has Frank Rich forgotten so soon Mel Gibson? Having smeared him once in print during his year of greatest acclaim, I suppose Rich has reason to push him down his own private memory hole.

Posted by: Pontius at May 1, 2005 10:32 AM

If Novak is "grim" -- which he's not of course -- then what does that make Frank "Chicken Little" Rich?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 1, 2005 11:29 AM

If I remember right, Parker and Stone's focal line at the end of the Terri Schiavo parody episode Rich fixates on was "You're right for the wrong reasons, and you're wrong for the right reasons" when talking about the opposing sides of pulling the plug on Kenny. Basically, they came down on the right-to-die side, but were disgusted with the glee in real life that the supporters of starving Schiavo were taking in getting her to die. Not exactly the lesson Rich wants Times readers to take from that episode.

Posted by: John at May 1, 2005 11:54 AM


Yeah, I noticed that too. Anybody who reads Novak knows he's not grim at all. Rich just thinks all religious people are grim by definition.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 1, 2005 12:05 PM

I've watched little of SP, but always thought it provided the right an opportunity to laugh at themselves as well ... and isn't that the essence of the best humor ... as opposed to the acidly destructive "humor" of the left who are too damned self rightous to tolerate any self deprecation.

Posted by: at May 1, 2005 12:15 PM


The left has better celebrities. Let's not try to deny it.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at May 1, 2005 1:51 PM

Matt: Save yourself the brain damage. Don't read Frank Rich. It is not worth the effort, unless you are his neurologist and you are trying to figure out the nature of the lession.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 1, 2005 4:20 PM

Mr. Schwartz:

True enough. As I said, it's his problem and not ours.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 1, 2005 4:38 PM

David: better?

Well, that calls for a value judgment, which seems so unfair.

Posted by: old maltese at May 1, 2005 6:19 PM

Frank Rich's mom's a bitch and his columns smell like ass!

Posted by: Eric Cartman at May 1, 2005 7:03 PM

mrff arfff alf mmff uff efrufefffuf!!!!

Posted by: Kenny at May 2, 2005 12:31 AM

"You bastards!"

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 2, 2005 5:57 AM