Adam Curtis has built his name on impactful documentaries analysing power, the latest of which is HyperNormalisation, but the Bafta winner said documentaries nowadays “tend to play to what their audience already know”.
Instead, he suggested South Park as the greatest documentary series. And yes, he does know it’s not a documentary.
“Documentaries shouldn’t just reflect the world, they should try and explain why reality is like it is,” he wrote in The Guardian.
“The true genius is South Park. Every week they report on the world in a really original way… they make you realise how strange and absurd that world is.”
Adam, who’s known for using archive footage to tell a story, held up 2012′s Imaginationland three-parter as an example.
“It is about how terrorists take over all of our imaginations – and then our imaginations run out of control with dark horror. So the US government decide to nuke our imaginations. But Kyle from South Park confronts the government and makes an epic speech about how what we imagine inside our heads is more real, and has had more effect on the world throughout history than us as just physical beings.
“The whole story is a wonderful attack on the narrow rational utilitarianism of our age that both left and right have bought into. It’s saying: you can make the world anything you want it to be. At its heart, South Park has a touching faith in human beings. That despite their absurdities and flaws, people have the capacity to create a better world. In our conservative times that is the most radical message of all.”
Other blatant messages in South Park – a series that since launching in the 1990s has taken heaps of criticism for its storylines – include the one where, when voting on a new school mascot, the students are given the choice of a “turd sandwich” or a “giant douche”, and The Snuke, highlighting Islamophobia through a parasite living within Hillary Clinton’s body…