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Rude, crude and unapologetic

South Park‘s back with a new batch of episodes that are sure to keep censors on the edge of their seats. Also returning is Ren and Stimpy uncut. Relive the duo’s misadventures the way John K. originally envisioned. The series have dealt with more than their fair share of criticism for colorful language (South Park) and bizarre subversive messages (Ren and Stimpy).

With season eight of South Park continuing Oct. 27 and Ren and Stimpy’s first two seasons released on DVD this past week, it’s a great time for animated television. You can start with a fresh episode of South Park that takes whatever issue in pop-culture and rips it to shreds then follow that with a spacey, slightly demented episode of Ren and Stimpy.

Both animated series have been looked down upon as brash and a sign of moral decay. How can we sit back an expose our children to such vulgarity? This is a question many parents across the nation have raised. Simple: If you watch an average episode of South Park looking for profanity, you’ll undoutably find more than a few examples, but if viewed with an open mind, South Park can be politically poignant, intelligent and, dare I say, educational. That’s right, throughout my years of watching the show I’ve learned numerous seemingly useless things. I learned that chickenpox is a type of herpes (that tidbit came in handy later), discovered conjoined twin myslexia (known to the medical world as Cranio Pagnis Parasiticus or the “parasitic head”), began to fully understand metrosexuals and the importance of stem cell research.

Ren and Stimpy premiered on Nickelodean in the spring of ’91 and became an instant hit for the network. But creator John K. continued to push the buttons of public decency until the network fired him and his production company from the series. Ren and Stimpy returned for a third season, but the creativity and insanity were absent from the PG episodes. The subsequent episodes failed to connect with audiences and the series was soon pulled off the air. Ren and Stimpy was a chaotic commentary on pop culture from hero worship to hyping the next “hot item,” which of course was the log. Nick’s choice to assume creative control doomed the innovative animated hit and drove away loyal fans.

Comedy Central is pulling out all the stops promoting the return of South Park‘s eighth season. This weekend the network is unveiling the viewers’ favorite episodes of the series and capping it off with the supposedly “uncensored” premiere of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The South Park season is weird with the first seven or eight episodes playing throughout the summer and then another 10 airing in time for the holidays. Matt Stone and Trey Parker masterfully write episodes, capturing a current trend or issue in mainstream culture and humorously beating it to death. Stone and Parker have already tackled anti-Semitism, the controversy surrounding stem cells, Michael Jackson and the touchy Catholic sex scandal. What is left for this series? Plenty. What about a presidential election episode. Is there a line the show won’t cross? Well, judging by what we’ve seen so far, I’d say probably not. This is what makes South Park so unique: absolutely nothing is sacred or too controversial to poke fun at.

These animated shows have redefined humor and appealed to a much wider audience than a group of preteens. Even the most hardened critics of the shows can’t stop the laughter and cultural icons they’ve become. By watching South Park and Ren and Stimpy I’ve picked up many “useful” bits of knowledge and, in a recent argument with a coworker over whether or not chickenpox was a type of herpes, it was South Park that gave me gloating rights. A morally bankrupt television show taught me something that a soon-to-be USF biology graduate didn’t know. Proof that education can be found in the midst of “f” words and choppy animation.