South Park S5 Ep2: Cripple Fight!

I love South Park. As this is my first post about South Park proper, I just want y’all to know that.

For the past two weeks, I have been marathoning South Park, watching episode after episode in order and season after season except backwards. South Park is consistently great, and their dud episodes are few and far between. They hit several issues at once – as if there isn’t only one thing going on in the world at one time – and they never betray their cast, despite the range that their subjects need to cover. Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny feel real – each have their strengths and foibles: Cartman, the successful douchebag; Kyle, the moral realist – or, the everyday man; Stan, the spotlight-loving missionary; and Kenny, the pure devotee to modern hedonism. I could go on about Randy Marsh, Butters and I’m sure most of the other minor characters have the same kind of substance in them – they are the reactions to Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny, and consequently take their form in the logic behind the boys’ characters – but I’m a little exhausted from writing so much over the past 24 hours. Hopefully, one day in the future, I will trust myself to save this paragraph as a draft and have the motivation to come back to write a full-fledged general praises of South Park but, for now, I’ll just post in stream-of-consciousness style.

I cringed a little at the episode’s namesake event – it was a pitiful sight to watch, but like the spectating mob, I just couldn’t turn away. The boys’ macabre desire to further injure each other despite suffering under the disabilities they already had and their ruthless and unashamed exploitation of each others’ handicaps transfixed the whole audience – both within and without the screen. Were they shocked that people could be so consumed by blood-lust that they’d rather fight than cooperate for mutual benefit in an environment unforgiving of their physical capabilities? Is our need to feel individual and meaningful so desperate that we would rather die than live with people too like ourselves? Or maybe I’m being judgemental. For people with disabilities to not allow their disability to hold them back, they should be able to fight, love and carouse as much as any able-bodied person; but is it really possible, or right, for them to ignore their disability to follow a lifestyle that doesn’t suit their natural capabilities?

When the news mistook the huge crowds turning out to see the cripple fight for supporters of anti-discrimination of gays in Scouts, television watchers all over the US, including original dissidents Randy Marsh and Kenny’s dad, began to follow the movement to allow gays in Scouts and persecute the Scout elders or whatever they’re called.

It was a neat little trick, putting Randy Marsh and Kenny’s dad next to each other on the same team – showing that the middle class are just hicks in better clothing with both subject to television rule.

Everything wraps up when the fabulous Big Gay Al refuses to forcibly take his place in the Scouts, preserving the rights of clubs to decide their selection criteria for membership. And so, the hero of the episode is Big Gay Al, the ultra-accepting, all-loving model citizen who rejects ideological subjugation by the majority for genuine understanding brought about by communication. I think I’m a little bit in love. I wish I were a man. And 2D.

But questions still remain unanswered: whatever happened to the Scouts in later episodes? How did the guys spend five seasons in 3rd Grade and 12 seasons in 4th Grade, with at least 14 Christmases in between? South Park, I have faith that you’ll reveal the answers to all of these in future episodes.

And the much talked about Cripple Fight:

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