[…] After a scatological start, South Park found its voice as a satire of the liberal left. It made joke figures of Barbra Streisand, Bono, Alec Baldwin, Toyota Prius drivers, pacifists, grievance-mongers, public sector bureaucrats, the politically correct and, in a double episode after the Danish cartoon furore of 2006, those who would cave in to religious intimidation. There were rightwing victims, too, but every other comedian picked on those. What gave South Park its electric effect — and its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, hero status among me and my friends — was its willingness to go after the hardest targets, and with style. The only liberal-baiters we had grown up with were oafish standup comics on Britain’s seedy club circuit.
The Anglo-American writer Andrew Sullivan, a “punk Tory” in his youth, went so far as to hail “South Park Republicans”: irreverent young people driven rightward by the priggishness of the other side more than by any doctrinal commitment. Parker and Stone winced at the link but knew he had half a point. “I hate conservatives,” said Stone, in a quote for the ages, “but I really fucking hate liberals.”
Their artistic influence is still unmistakable — in Family Guy, in the standup work of Bill Burr, in the derision with which celebrity pronouncements on serious matters are now met, in the fact that South Park itself is entering its 21st season. The question is whether the show had an unintended political influence, too, creating a kind of anti-PC chic that curdled into what is now the populist right. Through no conscious design of their own, did Parker and Stone invent a monster?