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The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is coming out against Wednesday’s “South Park” episode that attempted to re-define the word “fag.”
In the episode, the “South Park” gang rally their Colorado town to use the anti-gay slur to refer to “annoying and inconsiderate” riders of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Local gays initially take offense the boys’ use of the world, then get on board with the re-branding after noting the word is “never going to disappear, [it’s] simply too much fun to say.”
GLAAD says they get the joke … they just didn’t find it very funny. Here’s GLAAD:
The creators of South Park are right on one important point: more and more people are using the F-word as an all-purpose insult. However, it is irresponsible and wrong to suggest that it is a benign insult or that promoting its use has no consequences for those who are the targets of anti-gay bullying and violence. This is a slur whose meaning remains rooted in homophobia. And while many South Park viewers will understand the sophisticated satire and critique in last night’s episode, others won’t – and if even a small number of those take from this a message that using the “F-word” is OK, it worsens the hostile climate that many in our community continue to face.
The episode was the highest-rated outing so far this season for “South Park,” drawing a 1.5 adult-demo rating.
GLAAD is urging people to contact “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as Comedy Central, and share “personal stories of the negative impact the F-word and other anti-gay slurs have had on your life.”
Comedy Central had no comment.
Here’s some clips. My thoughts below.
I swayed back and forth like a ship’s mast on this one.
At first I was on the side of “South Park” since I thought the episode was well-intended and funny and I really cannot stand Harley riders unless I’m watching “Sons of Anarchy.”
Then GLAAD made some really thoughtful and well-reasoned points.
After processing it a bit more … I think this is all a classic “South Park” response. The show finds something society is uncomfortable about and satirically nukes it, leaving you thinking about the topic, re-examining your own thoughts on the issue and debating it with others.
That is also, by the way, precisely what great art does.
Trey & Matt could have opted not to go there, worrying that some in the audience won’t understand their intention (as GLAAD points out).But that’s also a common argument for censoring anything. Not that GLAAD is suggesting censorship, but how many times have we heard, “Think about the children” when special interest groups protest content with grown-up themes. Also, the “South Park” kids were completely baffled by the very concept of homophobia — hell, even Cartman wasn’t homophobic and he hates everything. So it’s tough to thump “South Park” for assuming its audience is smart, especially when you don’t have to be bright to get this message.
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