Satire: the use of humor, exaggeration, ridicule, or irony to criticize the flaws of mankind/society. Indeed, satire is the purest form of self-reflection as it takes things quirks that are so small one may not even notice their presence, and blow them so far out of proportion that the viewer can fully understand how meaningless, unreasonable, or just plain stupid certain things are. Out among the current mass media is a television show that has been criticizing American society’s flaws since 1997 and continues to do so to this day. I’m talking about South Park. It’s vulgar, rude, and the most politically incorrect program on TV, but at the same time all of those things are what make it the perfect judgement of the state of America. Especially when every stereotype, racist concept, or ridiculous are hoisted up and thrown at the viewer to the point that one will physically cringe at how stupid an unwarranted fear of another race truly is.
The image above is taken from an episode aired just after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 entitled “The China Problem”. In it, the characters are so stricken with fear over the Yellow Peril and belief that the Chinese are coming to invade that they dress up in extreme explicit yellowface, go to a PF Chang’s, and hold the restaurant hostage while demanding that the few Americanized Chinese people there tell them the invasion plans. Now while such a chain of events is absurd and would never happen in the real world, it makes the viewer realize that those who are bigots and counter-productive to social equality look just as moronic as the boys in the show.
While Asians play a large role in the show, it is not the sole focus of the show. Instead South Park works to take its viewers’ own homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, extreme political views, religious views, etc. and effectively slap them in the face with all of it. Satire of this nature is an interesting thing to analyze on the basis that it takes a dominant reading of society and pushes it so hard that it evolves into resistant reading.