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Towelie - The Best Character In South Park?

by Dana Andersen. Published Sun 24 May 2020 12:24

Towelie, the talking ‘RG-400 Smart Towel’, first appeared in South Park in season five, when he ‘got high, and just sort of wandered off’, ending up in the town. His creation is confused, unsure, apparently genetically engineered, to be an alien spying weapon, by Tynacorp. He can make people as dry as necessary, depending on the situation, he reminds everyone to remember a towel, and until he got clean for his son, he got as high as a towel can get.

But is that really all there is to ‘the worst character in South Park’? Creators of the show, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone, have explained that Towlie was conceived as a joke, to parody the over-marketing of characters, following the success of the show, but that doesn’t stop some fans from adoring the annoyingly voiced character.

Places like Etsy are awash with Towlie inspired pipes, ashtrays, rolling trays, stickers, towels, anything you can think to want. Reddit is similarly stuffed with fans of the character discussing which episodes were his best, where he truly came from, and even what the true inspiration behind the character could have been.

Though the writers have explained, in a fan FAQ, the the character was conceived while several of them were vacationing on a houseboat, while wake boarding one of them yelled, ‘don’t forget to bring a towel!’, and so, the character was born. Some fans have other ideas though, one of the most popular being, he must have been inspired by how many teens use a towel, to block smoke from escaping under their door, while smoking weed out their bedroom window, and hoping their parents don’t find out.

Most South Park viewers do accept the concept of the character, as a way for the writers to hit out at the over saturated marketing of the characters they created. Since the show began in 1997, merchandise of every character has popped up. From the ordinary items like t-shirts and posters, to flags, figures and recreations of ‘props’ in the show, few elements of this show were not used as a way for the studio to bleed money out of fans.

Towelie backfired in this regard, because many fans love him. He may be called the worst character in the show by other characters, but in reality we see that perhaps the real reason the show was so heavily marketed, with merchandise and promotion, because thats what the fans want.

Even a character that is a literal towel, with an annoyingly high-pitched voice, that just smokes weed, and is constantly confused, can be marketed to the point that fans love him. Despite the writing of the show and character, actively directing us to hate him, he has a loving fanbase, who want to spend money on merchandise representations of him.

Is it really surprising, though? Towelie may have been written with the intention of him being ‘the worst character in South Park’, but what they gave us is a character, who shows significantly more kindness to those around him, than most of those in the show, who tries his best to help the people around him, even if that is just reminding them to take a towel, and whether he’s getting clean for his child, or smoking a boat load of weed as an inspector, he’s trying his best to live his little towel life, as well as he knows how to.

Cartman telling him he’s the worst character ever, showing us his intervention, and even having him save the boys lives in his very first episode, rather than giving us a character to hate, the writers gave us one of the most genuinely nice characters in South Park, who becomes an under dog as we experience other characters disrespecting, and upsetting, him. Take into account how many fans of this show are likely smokers themselves, and for some people they’ve also provided a hilarious and relatable character.

Intentions of the writers aside, Towelie is a South Park favourite, and his chilled out, caring characterisation, is certainly not the worst character ever.


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