South Park Show Analysis

Updated May 6, 2022

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South Park Show Analysis essay

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South Park is a show recognized for it’s offensive humor and vulgarity, it has a wide range of viewer but due to its content it also has a divide between those who love it and those who don’t. It debuted in 1997, it has been receiving major criticism ever since. However, when one ignores the outrageously offensive humor, one can find a deep message, mostly pertaining to current events, the show is trying to convey its audience. In “Contentious Language: South Park and the Transformation of Meaning”, Marcus Schulzke discusses how the show uses many techniques to relay the messages. He looks at one technique specifically related to one episode, which was the utilization of the meaning of words and their capability to change. In the episode the “The F Word” the definition of the word fag is being changed. Schulzke utilized multiple aspects to demonstrate his argument. First was the children and adult division that is apparent in multiple episodes of the show. Second was the importance between the definition of the word or what the meaning the speaker had in mind.

In the episode “The F Word”, the show writers utilize the different generations to achieve a role reversal between adults and children. This is used to show how over time, a generation, the meaning over can change and can be perceived differently. One example was when the kids were truing to explain to the mayor that using the word fag was not indented against homosexuals, but against the biker gangs (Parker &Parker 2009). When the adults were telling the kids that the fag was a derogatory term for homosexuals, the kids were puzzled. Since the children did not know the intended meaning of the word, as it was never used in front of them, they changed the meaning by simply using it on their own. Schulzke can support this claim as he stated “A word’s meaning is determined by its use so meaning can be intentionally changed by adopting new uses” (2012, p.25). Now that the children are using the word and repeating it, the adults had to learn and also had to start using it with the meaning intended by the children. This is one example of how the show uses role reversals as a technique to present its message, in this episode the adults were learning from the children. But even after the adults found out about it, most of the town still perceived the word fag as an insult to homosexuals, so how does the word actually change it meaning?

The true root of the fag is based on verbally abusing one single group of people. And in the episode it goes on to show how the word had changed its definition in the dictionary many times. It from “ an old unpleasant women, a bundle of sticks, to a derogatory term to homosexuals” and now is being used to insult bikers (Parker & Parker 2009). The word is still being used in the same sense but the groups of people who are being verbally abused are changing. This shows how the actual meaning of the word can be changed if enough people use it to the point where it becomes official. This presents the significant importance of intention and perception. To fully understand a word, both the perception of it and its intended meaning need to be understood and if one is ignored then it is “an oversimplification of the communicative process” (Schulzke 2019, p.28). This idea is repeated all throughout the episode and many other episodes of the show. At first no one understood how the children indented the word fag, but after a while and after much repletion of the intended meaning, the adults started to perceive the word differently. The writers even made sure to bring on the dictionary officials, so the definition would change and all would understand the perceived and intended meaning of the word fag.

This episode is a great example of how the show included deep messages in its content. In this one specifically, it was how a word can change just simply by the intended usage. It shows how intention is more powerful than perception. And I agree with this because words are meant for communication and when the intended meaning is communicated the perception would follow it.

South Park Show Analysis essay

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South Park Show Analysis. (2022, May 06). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/south-park-show-analysis/


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