South Park creator Matt Stone says Netflix’s reputation went up due to their response to the controversy surrounding Chappelle’s The Closer special.
South Park creator Matt Stone says Netflix’s reputation went up due to their response to the Dave Chappelle comedy special controversy. Stone and Trey Parker are the creators of South Park, the animated comedy show that has been running since 1997 and is on its 24th season with more on the way. The duo created the series while in college, which later debuted on Comedy Central and became a cultural phenomenon. While billed as a comedy series, the show has long been a place for socio-political commentary on just about every topic imaginable, be it religion, celebrity, pop culture, politics, or any number of issues facing the U.S. and the world alike, all played out with often dark, profane, and hilarious hijinks through the eyes of four boys living in the fake town of South Park, Colorado.
Chappelle is one of the most-popular comedians working today and has faced controversy recently for his latest Netflix special, The Closer. The special caused an uproar within the Trans community, prompting a staged walkout of a few dozen employees to join in a protest of it. Netflix CEO, Ted Sarandos, stood by the creative freedom of Chappelle’s special, while noting that he “screwed up” the original wording of his message to staff that took issue with the special, but that it would remain on the streaming service. Sarandos has been adamant about supporting creative freedom on the platform, while adding that sometimes “…there will be things on Netflix that you dislike.”
In an interview with THR talking about the future of South Park, which has always been a source of controversy, Stone addressed the controversy, commenting on Netflix’s response in backing Chappelle throughout it. Stone says that he believes it’s improved Netflix’s reputation in the Hollywood community, particularly amongst the majority of the creative people in the industry. He says that they were happy to see Netflix’s decision to stand by their talent, which is something both South Park creators have had to endure since the beginning. Here’s Stone’s full comment on the matter:
“I think Netflix’s reputation in the Hollywood community went way, way up. That’s all I’m going to say. There are some people who do not agree. But the vast majority of creative people in Hollywood were happy with Netflix’s decision. That’s my feeling. I can’t prove that.”
Both Stone and Parker have faced similar backlash with South Park throughout the years and have “zero concern about criticism, outrage or cancel culture” with the full intent to tell “their stories, their way” with the animated show. “We have been waiting to get canceled for 30 years,” said Stone, elaborating that it may change who’s involved with the show, but it’s something they’ve both adjusted to. Stone says, “…we have been dealing with this shit the whole time we have been making the show. And we can’t complain. Things have been going fine for us. It gives us fodder and gives us something to talk about.” Both Stone and Parker are set to debut a number of South Park specials on Paramount+ in the coming years, with the show renewed through season 30 and a total of 14 additional projects in the works in their new deal with Viacom.
While it’s fair to protest or criticize any film or TV show, it’s easy to understand why those who are taking risks and pushing boundaries in Hollywood would be happy with Netflix’s decision to stand by their talent. Stone and Parker are two people who have fought that fight for decades and certainly have some insight into what it means to have a group try to silence your creative endeavors due to being offended. While listening to and understanding the complaints of any group over a specific project is a good rule of thumb, the cancellation, subversion, and restricting of creative endeavors over a perceived offense by one group or another is a dangerous path. Once the shackles of censorship are placed on projects that are meant to be controversial or challenging, the definition of creative freedom loses all meaning, which is a risk Netflix is obviously not apt to make and something the South Park creators understand all too well.
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