Wednesday, November 14, 2007

South Park: The Ginger Kids

TV SHOW/Summary: South Park

Summary of Episode: The Ginger Kids
In a class presentation, Cartman argues that "Gingers" — those with red hair, freckles, and pale skin — are creepy and evil (a feeling that probably had its origins in Cartman's incident with Scott Tenorman). He explains they suffer from "gingervitis" and their light skin comes from their lack of a soul. He also argues that they cannot stand the sun, and that Kyle, who has auburn hair (but not light skin or freckles) — is a "daywalker". After his speech encourages other students to discriminate against gingers, Kyle decides to make his presentation about the genetic causes of gingers being born. Kyle interviews a family with ginger children, and it soon becomes apparent that although Cartman's prejudiced ideas about Gingers are untrue, the fact remains that the general public, even their own parents, carry a similar bigoted hatred and intolerance toward them. Kyle's status as a "Daywalker" prevents anybody from listening though, so he and the others agree that Cartman needs to be taught a lesson. They get together in the night to dye Cartman's hair red, bleach his skin a lighter hue, and give him henna freckles, to make him "ginger", after which Cartman begins to be discriminated against by the kids he influenced by his speech. However, Cartman becomes a leader of the "Ginger Separatist Movement", at first asking to be treated like everyone else.
Quickly, however, Cartman's movement becomes violent and Hitler-esque in tone. He begins to preach that gingers are, in fact, the "chosen race," and orders the eradication of all non-gingers from the Earth. Following Cartman's orders, the gingers abduct as many of South Park's children as they can, including Stan and Kyle, then bring them to their meeting place the Sunset Room at the Airport Hilton to throw them all into a pit of lava.
Kyle is chosen as the first to die, but before the gingers throw him into the lava, he whispers to Cartman that they really made him look ginger, and Cartman is shocked. He then tells his followers that he has suddenly had an epiphany, and now realizes that everybody has to get along. As the other children are freed, Kyle mutters to Cartman that he is a manipulative asshole. Cartman (for once) agrees, but doesn't care as long as he isn't killed by the people of his movement.

I chose this episode of the television show South Park because it shows how the society of the South Park children are easily influenced to be discriminative against those who have certain characteristics. It also adds a twist of when Cartman’s physical appearances are altered, he leads the once “minority” and discriminated group of people into an uprising, claiming they are actually the “chosen race”, and any of those who do not possess the “ginger” physical characteristics should be wiped off the face of the planet. This is basically what Hitler did with his Arian race, and extinguishing the Jews from his country. This episode shows an interesting turn of events as to how those that were once discriminated against, if they can unite and work as a group, they can overthrow the population and fight for their rights to be treated equal in a society. Though in this episode, Cartman takes things a little bit too far and brings the Hitler elements into play, which is just turning sides on what types of people are being discriminated against.

This media item can be connected to the article we read in class which involved the west coast importing labor workers from Asia to work on the sugar cane crops. Later on when some of the Asians moved to California to start up their own new lives to live on the mainland alongside the other Americans, they faced the same discrimination as the Ginger kids did in South Park. In the episode of South Park, Cartman proclaims a stereotype about ginger kids saying that they are all cruel and evil, and the way that they look happened genetically, so they cannot be changed. The rest of the school ends up believing Cartman’s discriminatory points of views of the ginger kids, and everyone in that society, including their own parents, looked down upon those children. In California, the Asian Americans were discriminated against by not having equal opportunities as someone who was Caucasian. For example, a simple barber shop would gladly serve a white male, but if a Japanese man, who may be of the same social class as the white male, were to come into the barber shop, he would be shooed away like a stray dog. The only difference between these two men would be the outward appearance, one of slightly darker skin and distinct facial features that would label him as an Asian American. The same goes for the Ginger kids, with their red colored hair, freckles, and pale skin, they are easily distinguished from the rest, and received bouts of ridicule from society, being treated differently than anyone else within the society of South Park.

I find South Park to be a mix of comedy and borderline offensive. South Park is a television show that is meant to test the boundaries that still unfortunately exist within our country. Most of the material on this show uses humor and puns about situations that were once existing within the current times society. This particular episode clearly portrays the events of being discriminated against because of the way a person looks, not who they really are and regardless of their standings within the society. The episode also included a slight parody of Hitler also, which is basically turning the once minority group into the “true race”, and everyone who is of the different race should be killed. It was basically turning the tides of discrimination against various groups of people. This show clearly exhibits the fact that even though it’s meant to be humorous, there are bouts of racism and discrimination still existent within today’s modern society.

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