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October 21, 2004 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-21

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10B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 21, 2004
SuperNintendoR obert sj1 ason R oberEtHs

Village 7 joins ranks of A2 theaters
By Jennie Adler
Daily Arts Writer

Ican still remember the first
time I saw "South Park." In
fact, I ended up watching it
c a VHS tape my friend had
recorded for me because my par-
ents still hadn't broken down and
gotten cable. It was the episode
where the volcano threatened to
destroy the snowy little town and
all of its inhabitants while the
boys were out learning to hunt
with their uncle. Even based on
today's standards, it was absurdly
violent, profane and disturbing
all at the same time.
I was instantly hooked.
And, apparently, so were a lot
of people, as the phenomenon that
was a little animated show about
four third-graders made out of
torn construction paper will soon
be going into its ninth season on
Comedy Central. At its inception,
9lot of people - critics, worried
moms and a few fans alike - saw
"South Park" as simply an enve-
lope-pushing dick and fart joke. I
wondered, as I watched my very
first episode, "How can a show
like this possibly last?"
It's happened before. Shows
like "Family Guy" and "Andy
Richter Controls the Universe"
were just too edgy and controver-
sial for their time and couldn't
withstand the abuse they took,
eventually giving in to outside
pressure. "South Park," however,
has been able to weather - and
continue to weather - that storm
of disdain critics throw at it on
a daily basis. What makes the
creation that is "South Park"

something that's been able to
withstand the tests of time?
In many of the interviews with
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the
minds behind "South Park," they
have been asked about their polit-
ical views and how they translate
those into the messages that each
show provides. They have always
brushed it to the side, saying that
they are creating a show that is
supposed to entertain, not change
people's perceptions. In fact, in
an interview with The Michigan
Daily last week regarding their
new puppet-based satire "Team
America: World Police," Stone
said that "We know about making
movies, but I really don't know
anything about politics more than
anything else ... I don't think
anyone should take their politi-
cal views from me or Trey, 'cause
we're pretty fucked up people."
This kind of attitude toward
politics has made many com-
mentators dub them as apathetic
toward issues affecting the world
today. It certainly may seem that
way with their treatment of both
the left and the right in "Team
America." Not only, as the name
implies, do Parker and Stone
depict a team of American heroes
saving the world from potential
terrorism while destroying histor-
ic landmarks in the process with
unabashed vigor, they have an
overweight mustard-and-ketchup
stained Michael Moore portrayed
as a half-crazed suicide bomber.
This attack on both sides of the
fence, however, can also be read a

second way, in a way that I would
argue, is the reason for the suc-
cess of "South Park" and "Team
America." Parker and Stone,
preach, whether consciously or
not, the good word of common
sense. Take that last sentence
in for a bit as it may come as a
shock. In fact, most people would
have to agree that in this day and
age, when we can go to a McDon-
ald's, spill hot coffee on ourselves
and then sue the establishment for
damages, common sense is all but
In the most recent edition of
Rolling Stone, Stone said, "What
we are trying to do is represent
the rest of America - those who
believe that Bush is an idiot and
that Michael Moore is an idiot
too. We're kind of just in the
middle going, 'I don't pretend to
know this shit.' "
My friend and I were once talk-
ing about how we hated when tell
one group of people (group A)
that you do not agree with them,
they automatically think that you
must be a part of group B. Take,
for instance, the Republican and
Democratic parties. If you were
approached by one of the College
Republicans and you told them
that you didn't agree with their
values, they would automatically
think that you were a Democrat.
No. That's not exactly the case.
I'll choose option C.
Breaking out of these pre-
defined molds is exactly what
Parker and Stone are doing with
their work. That's why crit-

Courtesy of Paramount

ics have had such a hard time
pegging their political persua-
sions. They may simply call it
"entertainment" but, in actual-
ity, what they're doing is much
more. It's not apathetic to take
a look at both sides of an issue,
filter out what makes sense and
what doesn't and make a judg-
ment based on the results. Parker
and Stone have been preaching
this mantra since "South Park"
first hit the airwaves in 1997 and
they'll continue to do it until they
piss off enough narrow-minded
In a society that seems fixed
on classifying people into per-
determined groups - whether
it's by ideology, race, gender or

otherwise - it's often difficult
to see beyond these borders. It's
not a radical idea that Parker
and Stone have taken in the cre-
ation of "South Park" and "Team
America." They've undertaken
a very complicated task, a task
of breaking down boundaries
between accepted societal norms,
and personified it through the
eyes of four, foul-mouthed youths
from the snowy Colorado town of
South Park.
Don't let Jason fool you. He's
in it for the dick and fart jokes
just like everyone else. Share your
political views with him by con-
tacting him at jasoner@umich.edu.

Movie theaters in Ann Arbor were
originally located solely downtown
- the Michigan Theater, the State
Theater, and the now closed Ann
Arbor 1&2. Then, when suburban
life exploded and the mall became
an American icon, United Artist
theaters came to Briarwood Mall.
Stores left the downtown area (like
the now bankrupt Jacobson's) draw-
ing crowds to the mall, but theaters
like the Michigan and State could
stay afloat because they had a niche
in the movie industry showing inde-
pendent films and scheduling special
At United Artist, ticket prices were
expensive but it made sense for the
young population of Ann Arbor as
Briarwood flourished - shop, then
relax at a movie. All seemed to be
well for United Artist until Showcase
Cinemas opened on Carpenter Road
in Ypsilanti. With stadium seating,
state-of-the-art sound systems, gar-
gantuan screens and a giant parking
lot, Showcase cinemas dominated
movie viewing in Ann Arbor.
Soon, Briarwood started to decline
as a mall when popular stores left like
Banana Republic and the Gap. As
Showcase wowed audiences, United
Artist could not handle the competi-
tion and closed.
Over the years, Ann Arbor became
the home to two more theaters, Qual-
ity 16 on Jackson Road and The Fox
Village Theater on Maple Road.
Each had a special guarantee for
good business in Ann Arbor. Qual-
ity 16 bragged cheaper prices than
Showcase and drew audiences from
the other side of town while the Fox
Village Theater had discount prices
for second-run movies.
With practically a theater for every
kind of movie, whether blockbuster
or independent, in Ann Arbor, Briar-
wood seemed destined to be theater-
less until the arrival of Madstone
Theater in 2002. Madstone figured
out a way to compete with major mul-
tiplexes like Showcase and Quality as
well as smaller theaters like the Mich-
igan and State. At Madstone, custom-
ers could escape from the clutches of
the overbearing stores like Forever
21 and American Eagle to go and
watch either an independent film or a
mainstream blockbuster with unique
snacks and entertainment. The the-
aters were neither comfortable nor
roomy but the friendly staff and sty-
listic decor provided an atmosphere
worth a visit.

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