Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Real South Park

While driving south from Denver on the way to the Black Canyon, we came across this incredible vista.  At the next overlook, we stopped and had a good laugh when we read the bronze marker.   Spread before you lies the famous South Park.  Turns out that Trey Parker, one of the creators of the hit animated sitcom, grew up near this grassland basin and borrowed its name for the show.  The fictional town of South Park is located down in this beautiful valley, somewhere in Parker's head.

Oh, how I tried to prevent my impressionable little boys from watching this cartoon, but it was a losing battle.  It was never meant for children even though Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Eric were children themselves.  Once my boys discovered South Park, their Age of Innocence was over.  The crude language, warped sex and dark humor were over their heads (or at least that's what other parents told me), but I knew better.  All of a sudden, t.v. shows and movies were being censored by them; not me.  "Mom, you better leave the room," my eight-year-old would advise.  "This show is too gross for you to watch."  Just who was raising whom here?

We all laugh about it now.  My sons have turned into compassionate and intelligent young men.  I guess I shouldn't have worried so much.  Still, the real South Park and its history has lost some of its appeal.  Who cares that Lieutenant Pike explored the area?  Who cares trappers hunted thousands of beavers here and traded their fur in Santa Fe and Taos?  Who cares the Colorado Gold Rush brought thousands of prospectors to the area?  It all pales in comparison to the other South Park, a cultural phenomenon of 20th century America.

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