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Satire and geopolitics: vulgarity, ambiguity and the body grotesque in South Park

Thorogood, JOE; (2016) Satire and geopolitics: vulgarity, ambiguity and the body grotesque in South Park. Geopolitics , 21 (1) pp. 215-235. 10.1080/14650045.2015.1089433. Green open access

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Abstract

Humour and laughter have become the subject of recent geopolitical scrutiny. Scholars have explored the affirmative and liberatory possibilities of humour, and the affective bodily dimensions of laughter as tools for transformative action in critical geopolitics. Humour that is vulgar and politically ambiguous is yet to be explored as a potent geopolitical avenue of enquiry. Studies of satire have suggested that rather than contesting entrenched geopolitical beliefs, satirical shows can serve to further divide audiences both amenable and antagonistic to the satire in question. I argue that this should not involve a wholesale rejection of satirical shows, as humour that uses irony, subversion, and other discursive techniques is just one way satirical media becomes an effective commentator on political issues. I examine the show South Park and argue its satire combines bodily and scatological humour with more traditional satirical techniques to produce a comedy that ridicules contemporary issues by reducing complex politics to the most basic and crass condition possible. This is defined in a Bakhtinian sense of the body grotesque, a social inversion through reference to the common bodily functions of all human beings.

Type: Article
Title: Satire and geopolitics: vulgarity, ambiguity and the body grotesque in South Park
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2015.1089433
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2015.1089433
Language: English
Additional information: © Joe Thorogood This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476259
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