Symbolism and Marginalization in "South Park"

Essay by hungusUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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South Park Marginalization

After watching the Big Gay Al South Park episode in our recent discussion group I realized that there is much more to South Park then I originally realized. Usually when I watch this hilarious show, I am not trying to interpret and analyze the show with a sociological lens. Now that I have taken this class, I have learned to look at everything in a new light especially television. The show's humor is based primarily on witty satire that can easily offend many groups of people. This particular episode demonstrated marginalization against gay men, the handicapped, Jewish woman, the military, and lawyers.

This episode did a good job in mocking the controversy currently surrounding the Boy Scouts of America involving gay troop leaders and whether they should be allowed to remain in the organization. The writers even went as far a naming the troop that Big Gay Al led Troop 69.

When Big Gay Al gets kicked out of the scouts it exemplified direct institutional discrimination because this was an organizationally prescribed action that intentionally had a differential and negative impact on members of a subordinate group. In this case the group was homosexuals. After Big Gay Al was kicked out, the scouts brought in a new military oriented scout leader mainly because he was perceived to be "manlier" than Big Gay Al. This new scout leader was really a repeated child molester named Mr. Slippy Fist. This demonstrated the marginalization against the military about the stereotypical belief of closet-case gays in the military. Kyle's mom, Mrs. Braflofski is the loud, rude New Yorker who sticks her nose into everyone's business and hunts for any reason to cry discrimination against Jews. She does this repeatedly in this episode. The handicapped aren't really discriminated against in this episode...