South Park –Trey Parker is the Master of Neologisms

Everyone is voiced by one man… mostly

When COVID first became critical throughout the world, I had assumed that it would be something that would last no more than six months, like the swine flu of 2008. But I was wrong, and it turns out that COVID is a pretty big deal and lasted much more than what I thought initially. Aside from the many subjects it influenced due to its sheer potency as a virus, it also affected popular culture. As an animation lover, I couldn’t help but notice that the quality of certain cartoons is not up to par with those that came before it. But if it didn’t affect the production quality, it affected the writing.

South Park is a show that had an interesting evolution. It started as a show about four boys and their misadventures through various comedic situations. Still, today it’s mainly about a geologist-turned-farmer (of cannabis) undergoing a neverending mid-life crisis in an environment that constantly satirises today’s global issues.

South Park today is an entirely different show compared to what it was in the beginning. Still, the same person has been writing the show since the beginning and providing most voices throughout all seasons.

Among other things, South Park is known for its unorthodox production schedule, where the production of a single episode starts roughly six days before airing. In contrast, most animations require several months of production due to the sheer complexity of the subject. Still, South Park is designed to produce animation relatively faster than usual.

One time, they had a blackout at the studio that required postponing the episode that was meant to air that week to the following week because apparently, this is what happens when you make cartoons in a single week.

But even more remarkable is the fact that Trey Parker is doing all of this by himself, as in “ writing the episodes, directing them and voicing the characters”. As the show is done today, all the episodes are written by this one man who voices almost every character. You’ve got to hand it to this guy, especially with the creativity he presents in the show, and not just in comedy but also in coining weird terms that have seemingly no connection to reality. Still, just whatever he considers funny… and it is funny!

He means “integrity”

South Park always had a consistent style of humour, mainly because it was written mainly by one man. But what’s even more impressive is Parker’s propensity for coining random words on the fly and just going with it. What results from this are gags that were meant to be one time only but became running gags due to the sheer hilarity they bring to the show and the positive reception from viewers. Right now, the most relevant neologism has to be “Tegridy”, which is a wordplay on “integrity”. What does it mean? It means nothing; it’s just a nonsense word that is often used in relation to whatever fascinates Randy at the moment, Randy being the most outrageous character on the show, of course.

But with a show as popular as South Park, you can’t help but realise the influence it has on its audience. One recent neologism is present in the COVID specials, where masks are referred to as “chin diapers” because of how they look when people put them under their chin. And the characters in the show behave as if that’s the official term because nobody ever uses the word “mask”. I’m such an avid fan of South Park that I started saying chin diapers because it seems more descriptive than just “mask”. After all, masks can be a lot of things. But how effective is it really?

South Park isn’t the first show to popularise weird neologisms, as The Simpsons and Family Guy did it as well. But due to the sheer popularity of these shows, whatever weird stuff that comes out of the characters’ mouths has the potential to be in tomorrow’s dictionary. I can only imagine how many people actually say “chin diaper” with a straight face because I haven’t met anyone like that yet, and I probably won’t because I live in the wrong community. With that being said, I do not have the resources necessary to research how many people say chin diapers. But this shows that today’s lexicon is slowly transforming into tomorrow’s lexicon, but I see all kinds of weird things that they write on the internet on all those social platforms (mainly Reddit), weird terms that would have never been used 20 years ago. So… where is contemporary slang going?

The next weird thing after “chin diapers”

So, as I said, these shows greatly influence modern culture, not just with the language. The infectious internet meme “derp” may or may not have its origins with South Park. But think about what you can do with these shows and how people listen to them.

Right now, the one subject that nobody can get enough of is COVID, right? So once that’s over, the next big thing hits and now it’s time to make fun of that, so you have to come up with a script in six days, and whatever you write, you keep because you don’t have time for other drafts. All the fun stuff you probably regret is now on TV, and people on the streets are using those funny terms because South Park is highly influential.

What I’m saying is these shows, not just South Park, should make better use of their influence in teaching people how to refer to masks because “chin diaper” is just ridiculous.

What do you think “masks” should be called?

I really don’t know what I’m supposed to call masks, but for the time being, I’ll just call them “masks”… because that’s what they are. In any case, due say your opinion on what kind of influence you think South Park has on modern culture, or just want to talk about your impression of the COVID specials because those were a blast.

In Conclusion…

I’ve been watching South Park for eternity, and unlike other prime time TV cartoons, this one just seems to be getting better, and it’s probably attributed to the fact that it’s written by one man, as shown in the show’s credits. The COVID made-for-TV movies are the first in the franchise to depict the kids as adults, so I recommend watching those if you’re looking for a good laugh because I enjoyed it.

I don’t know what tomorrow’s dictionary will look like, with or without South Park. People will always adopt new habits and new figures of speech to express whatever they’re feeling at the moment, and it’s an eventuality that was always meant to happen. Why? Humanity just needs more, I guess. But now I’m talking psycho-socio-anthropology, so I’m going to stop here.

One last thing: maintain social distance but, more importantly, always wear a chin diaper, but Omicron probably won’t be the last variant.

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