A friend of mine recently told me that the South Park episode, World War Zimmerman, “was one of the most controversial episodes” he’d ever seen. As South Park pushes through their 17th season, I was shocked that he could still be offended by a show that was born out of controversy. If you watched the news in the late 90’s you could be convinced that South Park and Eminem were literally indoctrinating children into becoming gay-bashing hate mongers.
It was perhaps because of this controversy that South Park ever survived it’s first season and gained a fanatical following. In the past decade, most Mommy advocacy groups have switched their anger from South Park to gay JC Penny Ads but South Park has still been able to rile up controversy in the their first 17 seasons. These are the most controversial episodes of South Park.
Scott Tenorman Must Die
While most of South Park’s shocking moments have come from biting social commentary, this season 5 episode rubbed many people the wrong way.
The episode features guest performances by Radiohead and the climax of the episode shows the depth of Cartman’s evil way. Long story short, Cartman feeds Scott Tenorman a chili filled with the meat of his dead parents.
This episode is was controversial for two reasons. First, a bleeding statue of Mary reportedly heals the public of whatever ails them. The only difference is this statue is bleeding from its anus. Obviously, Catholics were up in arms about the desecration of the Madonna.
Additionally, the episode goes after alcoholism and basically says that it’s not a real disease.
It Hit’s The Fan
It’s funny that this episode drummed up so much controversy over a word. But in the season 5 opener, Trey and Matt comment on the inane censorship rules of the FCC by saying the word “shit” 162 separate times in a 22-minute episode.
They also play around with context; by showing Mr. Garrison can say the word “fag” because he himself is a gay man.
All About the Mormons
Most of South Park’s controversies have come from their relentless lampoon of religion. In this episode a Mormon family moves to South Park and shocks everyone with their polite attitude and is actually inspired by a Mormon girlfriend from Trey Parker’s youth.
The dogma, rituals and mythology are presented in a straight forward manner, with a lot of attention to detail and very little humor. This lets the absurdities in the religion speak for themselves.
Mormon groups were upset about the episode, but in actuality a lot of people have learned the basics of Mormonism from this episode!
South Park went on to lampoon Scientology in several episodes.
Cartoon Wars Pt.1 and 2/ 200 &201
Perhaps the most controversial episode of South Park in recent years, Cartoon Wars started off as a send up of South Park’s comedy rivals, Family Guy.
The episode breaks down Family Guy’s lazy writing and “smash-cut” comedy formula. It is revealed that Family Guy plans to show an image of Mohammed in their next episode, which meant South Park, was going to air an image of Mohammed.
In the end, Comedy Central censored the image and replaced it with an ominous black screen reading, “Comedy Central will not allow an image of Mohammad to be broadcast on their network.”
The controversy continued when Matt and Trey decided to have Mohammed as the center piece of their 200th episode aptly titled 200. Following the airing of 200, the NY-based radical group Revolution Musilim threatened violence should South Park depict Mohamed.
Comedy Central then aired the sequel 201 heavily censored, with every mention of Mohamed bleeped out and images of the prophet covered with a black censored box.
Comedy Central has removed the episode from syndication and it has not been included in streaming services such as Netflix and South Park Studios.