Toward the end of the conversation, Stone begins talking about how South Park is at its core a rather moral show; it's not shocking without a point, weird for no reason. It's somewhere between Ren & Stimpy and The Simpsons: The former was too much of nothing, odd and disturbing for no reason; the latter has become almost too preachy, as though its scripts were written by Ned Flanders. South Park resides in the middle ground: It runs amok but lets no one slide by without retribution, whether it's the schoolyard bully, the phony celebrity or leftie do-gooders who shout down anyone who dares argue against the cause. The fact is, the show would be a failure if it existed solely to shock.
"When people ask us why we think the show's been successful, you don't know why, but I think there are a couple of reasons," Stone says. "I think people identify with the characters on some subconscious level, like any TV show. And I think it's directly not because of the shocking and offensive stuff. It's because that stuff is within a sweet and morally centered show. I think that South Park has maybe not a morality that agrees with everybody, but I think it actually has a pretty distinct and acute moral point of view that we pretty much stick to. People do right, people do wrong, don't be hypocritical, treat people right. It actually comes around to that."
So how, then, to explain the episode where Cartman kills Scott Tenorman's parents and feeds them to the kid?
Stone laughs. "I don't know why we did that." He takes a short pause. "Except for it felt like a really fucked-up, funny thing to do."