Cogito

... AS appears on a South Park episode

12 posts in this topic

In the South Park episode Chickenlover (Original air Date: 1998-05-20), the driver of the Booktastic Bus gives

the formerly illiterate Officer Barbrady

a copy of Atlas Shrugged

for learning how to read.

You see a full view of the cover for a few seconds, and the bus driver says something along the lines of

"it's time to move up to the big leagues"

. The episode itself was terrible, but the reference at the end was nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen the episode but I've heard about it long ago. Doesn't the show take a crack at Atlas Shrugged later in the episode? I might be remembering it incorrectly, but I also can't imagine anything positive coming out of that show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I haven't seen the episode but I've heard about it long ago. Doesn't the show take a crack at Atlas Shrugged later in the episode? I might be remembering it incorrectly, but I also can't imagine anything positive coming out of that show.

I think it is a sign that the most recognized example of a "big book" in popular media is no longer "War and Peace."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That (in)famous episode is easier to put in context now that South Park has been on the air for more than 10 years. At that time, it seemed like they were targeting Ayn Rand for ridicule. After years of poking fun at just about everything, I don't think they had it in for Ayn Rand. Anything in their radar is fair game, including Mormons and Scientologists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was curious, so I googled the episode. I remembered right.

From Wikipedia:

<blockquote>

In the South Park episode "Chicken Lover," Officer Barbrady reads Atlas Shrugged after overcoming his illiteracy. He later states to the town that he "read every last word of this piece of garbage" and because he did so "will never read anything ever again."

</blockquote>

On another site, Barbrady used a word much worse than "garbage."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was curious, so I googled the episode. I remembered right.

From Wikipedia:

<blockquote>

In the South Park episode "Chicken Lover," Officer Barbrady reads Atlas Shrugged after overcoming his illiteracy. He later states to the town that he "read every last word of this piece of garbage" and because he did so "will never read anything ever again."

</blockquote>

On another site, Barbrady used a word much worse than "garbage."

Huh. I didn't see this part of the episode, my DVR must've cut off early :) Whoops.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was curious, so I googled the episode. I remembered right.

From Wikipedia:

<blockquote>

In the South Park episode "Chicken Lover," Officer Barbrady reads Atlas Shrugged after overcoming his illiteracy. He later states to the town that he "read every last word of this piece of garbage" and because he did so "will never read anything ever again."

</blockquote>

On another site, Barbrady used a word much worse than "garbage."

I have seen that episode twice. After the first time, I wasn't sure if they were taking a crack at AS or not. So, I paid special attention the next time. I did think they were making fun of it, but in neither episode did Barbrady say that. It's possible that the original airing or some other version had that, but not in the ones I saw.

In fact, I recall Barbrady saying (from memory), "That was a gooooood book." However, since his character is known to be an idiot, the "joke" was either that he is too dumb to judge a book's merit or that only an idiot would like that book. I don't know which, but I took it to be a slight. However, I also agree with Jason Lockwood that those guys target everyone, and so I can only take so much offense to it. Also, as Betsy suggests, it may even mean something positive in a certain context.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember that episode. The book is projected as being a "higher level" book they get the cop to read. In the last scene the cop declares that he read the whole thing and it was so boring he's never going to read again.

I don't think they were endorsing it, it felt more like someone told the writers they had to read the book and they didn't buy into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I remember that episode. The book is projected as being a "higher level" book they get the cop to read. In the last scene the cop declares that he read the whole thing and it was so boring he's never going to read again.

I don't think they were endorsing it, it felt more like someone told the writers they had to read the book and they didn't buy into.

I think the reference to Atlas is a positive one for several reasons. Officer Barbrady is arguably one of the most dim-witted characters on the show. (That says a lot, given the abundance of other not-so-bright characters.) He is inarticulate and displays a clear inability to comprehend situations that he encounters, which makes him incapable of rendering proper judgment on the parties involved.

To top it off, we learn in this episode that Office Barbrady is completely illiterate.

So what does the dullard do as soon as he develops the ability to read the word "cat"? He runs out, reads Atlas Shrugged, and decides that he hates it.

If the creators intention was to pan Atlas, why would they do it in this way? Why select an idiot to criticize the book? I give the creators more credit than to choose such a poor approach to attacking Atlas.

It is clear to me that they carefully crafted this episode to present the viewer with the type of person who reads Atlas and hates it--dim-witted, uncultured, can barely read, and so on.

I also think this is about the best method available to encourage viewers to give Atlas a look without sounding like cheer leaders for Objectivism (which would have had the oppostive effect of what they intended).

Given the various views presented in this thread, maybe their approach didn't work out as planned, though it certainly got people talking about the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, they were poking fun at Ayn Rand. But, that is kind of there job; to poke fun at anyone and everyone. In an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they said the only person they truly dislike is Barbara Streisand. Other than that, I see it as nothing more than clean harmless fun. (Well, not exactly clean, but still harmless :-D.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No, they were poking fun at Ayn Rand. But, that is kind of there job; to poke fun at anyone and everyone. In an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they said the only person they truly dislike is Barbara Streisand. Other than that, I see it as nothing more than clean harmless fun. (Well, not exactly clean, but still harmless :-D.)

I think part of what they do it to poke fun at certain ideas or people in order to promote their antipode.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

South Park is great. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are great -- relatively speaking. They brutally satirize and savage a great deal of our Dark Age society. But they really missed the boat on that cultural reference! :) I'm pretty sure that they never read Atlas Shrugged. If they did, they certainly didn't read it right! Someone needs to go up to them and point out personally what a horrific error they made. They're good guys who may well make amends in a future episode! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites