Monday, July 26, 2010

Cannonball Read Entry #32: South Park and Philosophy - Richard Hanley

You know, I learned something today; There are two types of South Park fans in the world. The first are people who watch the show and actually understand the message of the week's episode. The other group consists of those who watch the show and merely impose their own tightly-held belief onto it.

Guess which group Richard Hanley, the mind behind South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer and More Penetrating, belongs too?

That's not entirely fair; as a professor of philosophy, Hanley has interesting ideas, and while they're not always entirely right, they're never entirely wrong. It's just that, well, the dude is just so fucking smug about them. So smug that he ends up suffering the same fate as San Francisco does in "Smug Alert", disappearing up his own ass.

If we're using the "Dicks, Pussies and Assholes" dichotomy from Team America: World Police, Hanley is an asshole that likes to think he's a dick. While he likes to think that he's fucking the system good and hard, all he's really doing is shitting on everything. He shits on religion, he shits on banning steroids, he shits on anyone who doesn't agree with him ... After a while, you just want to grab his smarmy little mouth and seal it shut.

Not to say the book is completely full of it; the essays NOT by Hanley are well worth the price of admission. Not only because they aren't completely up their own ass, but also because they actually examine the characters, ideas and philosophy behind the show, unlike Hanley who just says "This is what I believe" and then picks a bunch of clips from the show to prove his point. Honestly, I'd much rather read about how each of the boys represents a function of the human psyche then suffer through some tripe about how Richard Dawkins will save us all from the religious zealots.

In the end, about 1/3 of the book isn't written by Hanley, and this is the part of the book that I most enjoyed reading. It's one thing to have ideas, but if you're only going to use them as an excuse to shit on other people's ideas, then you're really just an asshole ... Or at best, a limp dick.

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