Okay, so I just came up with an obscure take on South Park that’s so baseless, I’m not calling it a theory so much as a slightly irrelevant idea, somewhat inspired by similar obscure takes and the actual story behind the series. But I’m currently entertained by the idea, so here.
South Park is the highly metaphorical creation of a real-life Butters.
So, let me elaborate. Real-life Butters is an extremely bright, creative young boy around 8-10 who lives in a small town. Let’s call him Leopold, after the obvious. (I’ll elaborate on his life as I go.) He is a quiet, outcast kid who is simultaneously lonely and a loner. One day in school, he is assigned an art project. It didn’t have to be much, just some little at-home project that consists of construction paper. But like I said, Leopold is very creative, so he goes way beyond the standard, as he usually does. For the school project, he created an elaborate, albeit minimalist, town complete with houses and shops, an elaborate school, little people, and aliens (just for a random twist). He proudly shows it to his teacher, who (as always) appears unamused with his creation and enthusiasm, grades him on it, and gives it back to take home. However, Leopold later decides he really loves the little world he created, so he keeps working on it. He creates more little people, he makes different positions and props and voices for them, and starts making charming yet vulgar little animations with it. (After all, he’s a little kid with a gross, dark sense of humor as one might expect.)
As he gets further into the world, he starts basing the characters and events on his own world more. He’s extremely emotionally intelligent, and ten times more knowing of people than he lets on, but with a rather quirky worldview. Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman are based on a group of kids in school who would always bully him relentlessly.
“Stan” and “Kyle” were inseparable and, the way Leopold saw it, a little nicer and childlike than the other two. The two are also pretty similar, but “Stan” seemed a bit nicer, “Kyle” a bit smarter. “Kenny” was a kid who spoke clearly, but had perverse tastes. He rarely bullied Leopold himself, but was a friend of the others and would sometimes laugh at his bullying and misfortune, so he despised him anyway. He decided to make Kenny muffled so he wouldn’t get punished for talking about titties and such. (How he got away with everything else is beyond me.) “Cartman” was decidedly the worst of the four, but also the most bullied. The Cartman of his real world was a snarky, foul-mouthed, shallow, seemingly slow-witted and somewhat overweight asshole, who was often bullied by all the other kids for his weight as well as his generally annoying voice and temperament. “Cartman” had a father and (at least to his knowledge) his mother was not a crackwhore, but Leopold observed his behavior and figured he had issues at home, so he created Cartman as the fatherless son of the town bike. Pip was created simply to show how mean the other characters would be to some nice kid for no good reason, just as he felt other kids were to him. Leopold decided to keep subjecting those kids in particular to horrible situations in the story to take out his frustrations about their real-life counterparts. He’d also have Stan and Kyle often learn something in the process as a way of slowly and happily fulfilling his wish that they’d change.
Naturally, Mr. Garrison was based on his rude, indifferent teacher who seemed to have other things on his mind. Additionally, the parents of them are based on his older siblings, who he has a LOT of. (Rest assured, Leopold has good parents.) Sharon comes from his 13-year-old sister, who is intelligent, thoughtful, and caring. He always felt a closer, more comforting bond with her than his other siblings, and he felt she would make a saner mother. Randy is based on his slightly ditzy 14-year-old brother, who tends to be hammy and can’t keep a singular interest for very long. Shelia comes from his loud, activist 16-year-old sister who dislikes dark and/or edgy media, despite her age. Gerald comes from his quiet, brainy, somewhat arrogant 18-year-old brother. Liane is based on his sister, who enjoys making sweets and tends to be sweetly indifferent to what goes on around her. She also tends to tell (mostly white) lies to people for the sole purpose of making them feel good about themselves. Lastly, Stuart and Carol are based on his 19-year-old fraternal twin brother and sister. They are in college and rarely communicate with him nowadays, and when they do they seem bitter and tired, so he made Kenny’s parents alcoholics of a similar nature.
Leopold was a pretty bored little kid, so he would often read the newspaper despite his age. As time went on, he started enjoying those articles more and developing his own views on them, so he’d started to subtly include the stories and celebrities, and would often mock them in the same funny, vulgar way he had everything else in his stories. As he carved out his South Park world more, he’d slowly included his true author avatar, a ditzy kid named Butters. He was initially designed to look like himself in the art style, but wasn’t a lot more than a self-referential background character gag until what we’d call Season 5. When he finally decided to include himself in his exaggerated little world, that’s when he really started to feel an emotional outlet in South Park.
But more on that later. As Leopold got older, his real world naturally changed. He noticed that the kids he had been picked on by were starting to grow up and act nicer. As a result, so did his Stan, Kyle, and Kenny. However, he noticed that the “Cartman” didn’t really change for the better. He wondered, “What’s wrong with him?” That gave him an idea. He decided to make Cartman far, far worse than he ever was. He cut out a teenage bully, his parents, and some chili. The rest is history. Additionally, “Kenny” had moved away, so he decided to kill Kenny “one last time”, but make it actually depressing as Leopold had started to develop an actual friendship with him in real life.
But back to Butters. As they still were pretty mean to Leopold, he still made them use and torment Butters. He decided to design him as an exaggeratedly naïve, overly trusting, and somewhat stupid kid. This is so Leopold could better depict the way he was treated by others as he saw it.
I could go on and on about what various characters and episodes mean to him, (I already have a million ideas about that) but I figure that would be sort of excessive and boring. However, feel free to ask me any questions about my concept. In short, South Park is Leopold’s special art, his mouthpiece, his hobby, and (most importantly) a reflection of his entire life.