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‘South Park’ Creators Matt Stone And Trey Parker Chat ‘Fractured But Whole’, Superhero-Bashing And Shopping Channels

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South Park’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are technically two of the most offensive people on the planet, and yet when you meet them in person you realise that the writers of the song ‘America, F**k Yeah’ are in fact two of the nicest people alive.

Over the past twenty years they’ve been making the controversial yet side-splittingly funny TV series South Park.

South Park Creators Trey Parker And Matt Stone

At its most tame South Park pushes the boundaries of political correctness, at its most edgy it has bulldozed the boundary, carpet bombed its way deep into enemy territory while loudly singing Monty Python’s ‘Penis Song’.

Having successfully taken South Park into video games with ‘Stick of Truth’, the team are back with a new game. We got the chance to catch up with the pair to talk about that, shopping channels and interpretive dance.

As we entered a packed dressing room at Ubisoft’s E3 2015 games conference we couldn’t help but notice that there was a giant sign behind them that said the words ‘FRACTURED BUT WHOLE’.

And so began our little chat:

TT
Right well it’s very difficult to start a conversation with a ‘Fractured But Whole’ sign behind you both.

TP
Yeah we just realised it actually sounds like ‘Fractured butthole’…

TT
It’s uncanny, this could be a problem. So can you give me a rundown of what the ‘Fractured But Whole’ is, but with a straight face…

TP
Actually that’s easy. We decided to make a game that just continued the story from Stick of Truth because we loved that we’d created this new kid and we wanted to get more into that character…It sort of takes place literally right after the first one and it gets more into you as that kid. When we finished Stick of Truth we were kinda like ‘well never again’ but that’s we always say when we finish something new.

TT
Why?

TP
Just because it was so hard. For us it was all new territory to figure out and we did so many things wrong that it just took a long time because we were learning how to do it. But then we felt when it was done that y’know, it would almost be a shame not to, because now we know what we’re doing.

TT
The positives far outweighed the negatives?

MS
It just felt like we’d finally got into a groove at the end of the last game, and we felt like that last game fell short in some ways of our dream. But we’ve done movies and stuff too where you always have your vision of where you want it to be and it always falls short. In the middle of it it’s really painful but then you get on the other side of it and you release the game and people really like it.

TT
You’re both your own worst critic then?

TP
Yes, I would say I’m the very worst critic

MS
He really is

TP
I am

MS
I mean we’re both pretty critical bitches, I guess that is what I would call us, of ourselves and other people.

TP
But we had that when the game came out and it got really good reviews and we were like…

Meeeeeeeh.

Part of it was that we knew what it was supposed to be and even falling short of that its turned out pretty good.

TT
How involved were you guys in the process, because you’ll so often see a trailer for something that says ‘from the producers of’ and it turns out to be shit.

TP
We said we’d never make a video game unless we really did it hands-on. We’re both gamers, we both grew up as gamers and we both respect gaming as an art form, just like musical theatre so to us it wasn’t just ‘oh go and do something like that’. Once we’d finished Book of Mormon, Stick of Truth really was our other big project, and right now it’s this.

TT
How consuming is it?

MS
It’s a pretty narrative intense game, that’s just what it is so it had to come from us. I think this time we did a better job at working with people who really know video games.

TT
Its been such a long time since I played a video game that made me laugh the whole way through, have video games lost their sense of humour?

TP
Well I just think it’s different, it is its own medium too. And what we really learned with Stick of Truth was that we’d be like ‘OK here we wrote a bunch of funny shit now you guys go make the game’.

We kept doing this before we realised that OK we’ve all got to get in a room together because the jokes can’t just be written down they’ve got to come from the gameplay.

TT
Stick of Truth went through some censorship around the world when it was released, was that not a little frustrating?

MS
Yeah, a little bit. I get that the interactiveness of it makes the whole judgement thing an issue. So with TV comedy you’re in complete control of the timing and you can really build a very fragile house to get to a point because you’re building it back the way you want.

Whereas in a game, the player is running around and the timing is not totally in your control.

TT
You’ve covered so many mediums but would you ever consider staying in video games yet doing something that wasn’t South Park?

MS
I think I want to say no because I think we’ve got such freedom with South Park and we’ve got those characters and I really like the conceit that we’ve come up with.

TT
Almost like a toy box?

MS
Yeah! You can just go off and take the piss out of the superhero genre which is just overblown right now.

TP
It’s just so crazy because last season we were doing the show and we still had in our minds that you know, the show is everything. But then you see how many more people played the Stick of Truth and then how many more people watched videos of people playing the Stick of Truth than watch an episode of South Park, it was insane!

More people in the world are going to have exposure to South Park through PewDiePie playing the game than they are from whatever we do this week, so it really made us just want to take all this stuff that we’ve worked on for 20 years now and have it reach this new audience.

TT
It sounds like it was really liberating.

TP
It was frustrating because it was so much of trying to get the two sides to work, and that’s why I feel like at the end of it we had this feeling of ‘f**k well now we have the blueprint, we made a good game, we have a blueprint for a great game’ and well that’s what we got.

TT
I’m trying to think of a medium that you guys haven’t done yet.

MS
Drama….?

TT
Interpretive dance?

TP
I think that is next…we’re going to try and mix interpretive dance with video games. We’re going to pitch that to Ubisoft.

TT
What do you guys watch that you find funny?

TP
Since about eight years ago, the last thing in the world that I want to do to relax is watch comedy, it’s work and I can’t watch it and not analyse it. That being said, we grew up with British comedy, I’ll still sit and watch Little Britain even though I’ve seen it over and over.

Yeah it’s hard because it’s the last thing, me and my wife will go through iTunes, and she’ll click on category and I’ll be like ‘no no no please…’

MS
I haven’t watched season 2 but I liked seasons 1 of Silicon Valley and that’s comedy I suppose. I like everything that Mike Judge does.

TT
It’s also about finding the time?

MS
Mmmm but I find the time to go do other stupid stuff.

TP
Yeah you always find the time to watch cooking shows, the food network.

TT
Why do we do that? Why do we set aside the time to watch things and then just end up watching QVC?

TP
I think it is because now TV is just up there and on, I want it to be so passive, I don’t want to think about it really.

TT
It’s bizarre though isn’t it. Look at video games, it’s one of those things where people will set aside time to actually play it properly. Of course there’s games like CoD which can be mass consumption…

MS
That’s actually a really interesting thing because when you play like a South Park video game or indeed any video game you can’t be doing something else.

Yesterday I was on the plane and I was sitting like every asshole now who’s watching some movie that I’ve downloaded and I’m on my phone, and in video games you can’t do that.

You can tell when people aren’t used to having to concentrate and do that level of engagement and your friend’s on the couch. That passive viewing of television is just really different.

I don’t watch a lot of comedy, I watched a bunch of Phil Henry the other day, me and Bill Hick were geeking out on Phil Henry’s favourite scenes. He’s the radio guy?

TT
*Looks blank*

TP
Ha yeah he’s just this ‘radio guy’, people call into his show as ‘guests’ and they’re just the most infuriating people but you then find out that he’s doing both the guest and himself.

He’ll just end up arguing with himself and then real people will call up believing it and be like ‘I can’t BELIEVE they said that!?’

TT
Sounds remarkably like a radio station from Grand Theft Auto.

MS
Grand Theft Auto’s actually a good example of where they tried to draw that line of seriousness and comedy, and I find that the serious stuff actually works for me better than the comedy.

Also it is funny that the big big video games are — with some exceptions — tackling more interesting subject matter than big movies.

I mean most $150M big budget movies are really really dumb, and they sort of have to be if you know what I mean because they have to sell across the world. They have to work in South Africa, China and US, and I dunno, gaming is in this sort of weird pocket right now where the games are kind of more interesting.

TT
GTA is such a good example of that, the way that it captures the absurdity of real life.

MS
It’s hardcore and bonkers in a way that you’d never f*****g do it in a movie, and there are just very few movies with that big of a palette that just go crazy. Or that audacious or that uncompromising. I just don’t think that’ll continue forever, but it’s just something that’s happening right now.

TT
Why don’t you think it’ll continue like this? Do you think games will just become more like films and sell out?

MS
I mean those big games are working and maybe that’s one of the reasons that kids are more drawn to them because if you just go and see a big Avengers movie right now like, even when they’re good, they’re not like Grand Theft Auto which is just pure ‘HOLY SHIT’.

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