cartman is a pretty good demonstration of the archie bunker effect where the bigotry getting put on display of isn’t so much laughed AT as laughed WITH and the audience pretty much more and more going “lmao being a casual bigot is awesome and hilarious” to…
This is actually a pretty interesting discussion, and while I do think that the Archie Bunker Effect is a legitimate concern, I hardly think it’s come full circle and effected Matt and Trey.
Like… There is definitely this thing that happens where shitty teenagers go around spouting stuff they heard on South Park, with either a grave misunderstanding of how it was intended, or, sometimes, because South Park actually got their information wrong (this does happen, and as much as I enjoy the show, they do slip up every now and then).
This is stupid and it sucks, I totally get that. But you can’t watch the recent Zimmerman episode and honestly tell me that we’re supposed to sympathize with and glorify Cartman. We’re supposed to find him funny because his actions are so appalling and ridiculous.
Honestly I’d like to see a study done on this. If people are identifying with Cartman, then they’re missing the point, and they’re enabling the very mindset that the show sets out to criticize. Which is really unfortunate because I’d like to have more faith in people than that.
If satire is likened to holding up a mirror to society, and society is content with their reflection, that doesn’t mean the mirror is broken, does it?
This sums up how I feel pretty well, except the problem is not that society is content with their reflection, rather that they don’t realise that satire is a mirror.
On one hand you have people criticising the show for its bigoted content and on the other you have people who actually believe it validates bigoted behaviour. That is the more dangerous side of satire - because those are the ones who are going to be shitty to others because they think South Park said it was ok. When you say things like “it’s supposed to be satire, you aren’t meant to take it seriously” it should be to the people who think Cartman is awesome and his actions are a legitimate way to act, not the ones who criticise the show. That’s the dark side to satire. Too many people see it as a guide to what’s ok when in actual fact it is a guide to what isn’t ok.
Trey and Matt have been disappointing in recent years in regards to this, because the show used to be about Cartman being the dick character who was portrayed as stupid and often got made fun of in the show, usually by Stan and Kyle, who are based on the creators. But these days Cartman has progressed to the main character and things usually work out ok for him while Stan and Kyle are more often getting the shitty end of the deal. Trey and Matt have even said Cartman is their favourite character. The bigoted asshole has gone from being mocked by the creators’ alter ego characters, to being almost glorified and getting the most air time. This is most likely a reflection of Trey’s own cynicism with the world as he has gotten older, as the sad reality is that it generally is the asshole that gets his way. But too many of the shows viewers won’t look at it that way. And that is where the problem lies.
On a side note, there have been one or two episodes that I don’t think have been satirically poking fun at bigotry and have just been straight out ignorant, such as the F word episode (they should have taken their own advice from the episode about the N word and applied it here) and the episode with Mr Garrison getting a sex change. But then when they do get it right it’s spot on.