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Flush With Laughter.

By Coury Turczyn

JUNE 7, 1999:  Despite the recurring proclamations by our nation's moral leaders, poor taste is not exactly a recent invention by Hollywood studios. In fact, toilet humor has been an integral part of cinema since its beginning. If you've ever watched more than one film by The Three Stooges, then you know that Beavis and Butthead aren't radical new lows in American culture. Lately, the most pilloried entertainers have been Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose scatological South Park cartoons have cause tongues to cluck across the national media. Will these little paper cut-outs really bring about the fall of western civilization?

If you take a good look at The South Park Collection, you'll probably find that the lowbrow humor is actually balanced with sharply satirical stabs at our society's hypocritical attitudes on such issues as homophobia or euthanasia. Yes, there are talking turds to be found in South Park, but there are also parodies of Hollywood clichés and, yes, offensive kids' shows. Perhaps the fact that it's a cartoon is what catches in the throats of most moral guardians, thinking that it's intended for children. But this is clearly adult humor despite the fact that its main characters are four kids who live in a small mountain town. What's often disregarded is that Parker and Stone have actually created an interesting little cartoon world in South Park, not just a backdrop for fart jokes. In fact, the rotund, selfish, cocky, perpetually pissy Eric Cartman is one of the most original (and familiar, for some us) depictions of a grade schooler yet.

Equally interesting is Trey Parker's live action indie film Orgazmo (NC-17), which he wrote, directed, and starred in. This movie also caused much ado when it came out (earning it the cursed NC-17), but it's rather hard to understand why. Parker plays Joe Young, an earnest Morman doing missionary work in Los Angeles. When he interrupts a porno movie shoot at one house, he is enlisted to star as "Orgazmo" (a sort of porno super hero) with the promise that he won't have to do any sex scenes. What follows is a spoof on the porn industry combined with some silly caped crusader hijinks—and it's really not that bad or even offensive (unless you're insulted by the sight of unappealing male buttocks). The humor is about a half-step below the typical Airplane! rip-off, but it's certainly much more original. And what do you know: Parker actually makes for a very good, innocent Morman with his bland features and gullible smile.

Pretension free entertainment doesn't come around too often these days, toilet humor or otherwise. So the end of civilization be damned—let's have a chuckle.

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