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Evidence and criminal procedure professors will warn students not to take too much out of television shows like Law & Order and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. One can only imagine what they would have to say about juvenile cartoons such as South Park. But beyond the foul language and crude storylines, South Park provides a profound, yet unexpected forum for the discussion of important legal issues. Through the brilliant use of satire, South Park imparts a dynamic commentary of contentious, cultural battles that pushes us to expand not only our conception of the world, but also how that lesson is taught–through profanity and fart noises.
Stay tuned for Respect My Authority! South Park’s Expression of Legal Ideology and Contribution to Legal Culture in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law‘s Spring 2009 edition (Vol. 11, No. 3). Professor Podlas’s Abstract of the Article follows:
This Article recognizes that television programs outside of the law genre can engage in legal discourse: to wit, South Park. South Park has been called one of the most profane programs on television as well as one of the most ideological. Indeed, through sophisticated, no-holds-barred satire, South Park contemplates a number of American culture’s most complex and contentious legal issues. This Article systematically analyzes the legal ideologies conveyed by South Park, combining an interpretive ethnographic analysis with quantitative content analyses. Ultimately, these examinations reveal that South Park communicates a libertarian ideology of law. In doing so, however, it does not so much tell us what to think, as it provides us with a framework for how we think. In this manner, South Park informs how we think through legislation, perceive the law’s authority (or as Cartman would say, “authoritay”), and understand its role in our culture.
Article Author: Kimberlianne Podlas
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