Essay about Stereotypes In South Park Poisoning Young Minds

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Words: 928
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Dylan Williams
Ms. Jennifer Skowron
English 11
15 May 2015

Stereotypes in South Park: Poisoning Young Minds According to the novel Communication Between Cultures, “because culture and stereotypes are both learned early in life, we recommend that the first stages of avoiding stereotypes begin in childhood” (Somovar 172). Television has been identified as one of the primary culprits for teaching children stereotypes. The show South Park is saturated with stereotypes that are “transgressed and subverted” (Mallett). South Park is too offensive for television as it forms a plethora of stereotypes in the minds of children viewers. The stereotypes of disabled people are one of the more prevalent and offensive depictions found in South Park. The show makes disability seem as though it is awful and something to be sheepish of. The Stereotype of the “disabled child” is shown through Jimmy, who needs the support of leg braces to walk and stutters when he speaks. Timmy is a boy in a wheelchair who can only say his own name when he speaks (Ridgway). These two main characters are the main portals for South Park to take disability stereotypes to the extreme. For example, in an episode titled “Krazy Kripples,” Jimmy says, “hey Timmy how many able-bodied people does it take to screw in a light bulb? One” (Mallett). This was a joke aimed to hurt one of the able-bodied characters feelings, but in reality it was an interpretation of the stereotype that disabled people are incapable. Viewing disability stereotypes presented in this manner can have a detrimental effect on a young mind. Children would view disabled people as deserving of ridicule and overall incompetent. “The use of stereotypes is a major way in which we simplify our social world; since they reduce the amount of processing (i.e. thinking) we have to do when we meet a new person” (McLeod). Based on this quote, if a child viewer of South Park met someone who was disabled, they would already have a preformed idea that the person in front of them is unadorned and unintelligent. They almost cannot be blamed because the see Timmy who can say nothing, but his name and that is what they hold to be the truth. Their perceptions are changed for the worse by this stereotype alone, and yet there are plenty more present in South Park. Homosexuality stereotypes are also a main offensive depiction present in South Park. The television series stereotypes homosexuals in a negative way that could easily alter a child’s perception of a group or individual. Homosexuality stereotypes in South Park are shown through Big Gay Al, Mr. /Mrs. Garrison, and Ms. Owens. In the episode “Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride,” Stan Marsh, who is a main character, finds his dog, Sparky, humping another male dog. Big Gay Al is the character who owns Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Animal Sanctuary and who takes in Stan’s gay dog after Stan rejects it (Ravenwood 4). Big Gay Al is obsessed with fashion, very stylish, loves to dance to disco music, and speaks with a very flamboyant tone, all common stereotypes of a homosexual man. He is a character constructed by stereotypes. Mr. /Mrs. Garrison is another stereotype of the “flaming gay man” as he went through multiple sex-reassignment surgeries from a male to a female, then back to a male (Ridgway). He is an elementary school teacher who never seems to be happy. In the episode “Tom’s Rhinoplasty,” Ms. Owens, a substitute school teacher, tells the boys she is lesbian. They have no idea what this means, but they love her so much that they themselves try to become lesbians. They literally “lick carpets” and listen to marathon