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In 1996, student filmmakers Matt Stone and Trey Parker began chronicling the lives of elementary schoolers in the remote, conservative Colorado town of South Park. Though they originally intended to create a serious documentary, the children proved so funny -- and so blisteringly foul-mouthed -- that Stone and Parker changed the focus of their project. After causing a stir in Hollywood with a surreptitiously circulated five-minute tape, chronicling the children's unusual notions of the mythology behind the Christmas holiday, Parker and Stone signed a deal with Comedy Central to turn their footage into an ongoing series, South Park.

However, mere weeks before its scheduled premiere, testing of the pilot episode of South Park revealed that audiences were horrified and disgusted by the children's filthy language and unabatedly crude sense of humor. Desperate to keep the project going, Parker and Stone threw out the visuals, kept the soundtrack, and hastily cobbled together a stop-motion animation version of the show made from construction paper cutouts. Once test audiences believed that the show was nothing more than a cartoon, they loved the series, and it has enjoyed strong ratings and critical acclaim ever since.

The show has even made the Guinness Book of World Records for "Greatest Number of People Offended by a Television Series." It is estimated that, to date, the only people not yet offended by at least some of the program's content are the Nunuviks, an Inuit family living near the North Alaskan coast, and Tumanui, a 12-year-old member of the primitive and sheltered Yanomamo people in the Amazon rain forest. Parker and Stone have promised to rectify this oversight in next season's episodes.

The success of South Park has allowed Parker and Stone to branch off into other, higher-profile projects. In 1997, they exposed the seedy underworld of Mormon pornography. In 2001, they documented the goings-on behind the scenes of the Bush White House in That's My Bush. In 2004, they filmed a documentary on the lives and missions of Team America, the secretive global police force. However, the U.S. government expressed concerns about the exposure of classified material, forcing Stone and Parker to reshoot the film entirely with marionettes.

The Scientology ControversyEdit

This section removed at the request of Tom Cruise's laweyrs. Hail Xenu! -- Ed.

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