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Posts for November, 2009

GLAAD Asks ‘South Park’ To Dumb Down Show

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the opinions of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Daniel Gonzales

November 9th, 2009

Here’s a clip from last week’s South Park, titled “The F Word,” in which the boys attempted to redefine the word “fag” to mean inconsiderately loud and attention seeking motorcycle riders:

Fans of South Park, including myself, often view the show as one of TV’s most intelligent outlets for artistic cultural commentary.  “The F Word” episode was no exception as it examined the power of the word “fag,” its constantly changing definition throughout history, and lastly the ability of a community to reclaim an insult into a badge of honor and identity.

GLAAD sees things differently and issued a Call To Acton.  Poor GLAAD couldn’t even bring themselves to using the word “fag” in their Call To Action:

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 [emphasis added] – 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.

Let me establish my credibility as a creative professional;  I’m a licensed architect, I create films and interviews for my gay activism, and I’m a paid blogger for a community events group in Denver.  There are a variety of ways to criticize creative works, some of which are stronger than others.  Here’s how I see things…

Examples of valid and strong criticisms:

  • The theme of your work is offensive to gay people
  • Your work exploits gay people
  • Your work presents ugly stereotypes as truth
  • Your work is uninteresting or uncompelling
  • Your work failed to make its point
  • Your work is unoriginal

Examples of weak criticisms:

  • Stupid people won’t understand your work
  • You didn’t fit our talking points into your work
  • You didn’t articulate your work’s message the way we wanted

It’s like saying contemporary art superstar Damien Hurst shouldn’t create works of art like the image below because someone might not understand the piece and think it’s OK to go out and spear an animal dozens of times with arrows.

dh-bull

The only thing I find offensive about “The F Word” is GLAAD asking other creative professionals to cater to the lowest common denominator in their audience because someone, somewhere might not understand it.  The weak and invalid argument GLAAD presents would dumb-down America’s great cultural landscape for all of us.

The full episode can be viewed on South Park’s website until Wednesday night when the next new episode airs.