The show South Park is arguably the most controversial show on television, having sparked debate for its crude humor, foul language, and questionable subject matter. Conceived in 1992 by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show aired in 1997 and is still running strong. Each episode focuses on the lives of four fourth-grade students—Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny—in a small town in Colorado named South Park. The episodes largely feature debates in modern society, such as, ironically, inappropriate shows on television, and usually culminate in some sort of epiphany or ethical realization.
South Park utilizes a very iconic style of animation. It's style is often compared to Charles Schultz's comic strip Peanuts. Although both Schultz's strip and South Park utilize an iconic style, they're similar styles accomplish different tasks. Peanuts' style allows the viewer to see the world from a child's perspective. Its simplicity makes the characters more relatable and easier to sympathize with. In contrast, South Park uses the viewer's expections and preconceived notions about a simple animated style in order to shock its viewer. The viewer expects a family friendly storyline and is instead given a sharp, satirical commentary upon authority and society. In addition, the child perspective is effective because it allows Parker and Stone to criticize the problems of authority in our society.
The crude method of animation used in South Park is part of what allows the show to be so grotesque. The simplicity and hyper-iconicity of the animation creates a distance between the audience and the show so that the audience can accept and then laugh at the atrocities being depicted. If the show used a more realistic animation style, the show would be even more controversial than it is today, and the majority of people would not be able to accept its grotesque content.
The crude animation also forces the viewer to focus on the content of the show. In movies by studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks, every scene is a spectacle. This is not the case in South Park. The visuals in South Park are extremely simple and allow the audience to focus more of their attention on the satire and content of the show. The fact that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone would do this indicates that they are encouraging audiences not only to recognize the problems in society addressed in the show, but also to go out and do something about them.
In the beginning, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone actually used cutout animation. However, they began using a computer program to rearrange the thousands of colored shapes that make up their characters and backgrounds. This allows for rapid production, and thus South Park is known for its quick responses to public issues.