Friday, March 30, 2007

Post #3 Stupid Spoiled Whore

South Park is a popular show that incorporates current events into the storylines of episodes. Often times, people who do not find this vulgar humor amusing, are offended by it. South Park’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are starting to tie their personal views in with current events talked about in episodes of the last few seasons. As discussed in my post entitled, The “Right” Side of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, these personal views have started to lean right. Whether or not one agrees with the view embedded in the storyline, is of little relevance. This show is a good source of analysis for gender and pop culture because it is extremely popular and it only further promotes the issues it addresses by ridiculing them in such a grotesque way.


For this post, I have chosen to analyze the episode entitled, “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset.” This episode articulates how female celebrities influence young girls to be flirtatious, trendy and sexually provocative. Paris Hilton guest stars as the spokes model for her new store that sells all the things girls need to become “stupid spoiled whores”. In the end, Wendy, a member of the “out crowd”, learns from Mr. Slave, the children’s gay teacher’s boyfriend, that being a whore is a bad thing. The parents, who are usually portrayed as brainless, are also enlightened by Mr. Slave that they should teach their daughters that these ideals are wrong. In this particular episode, the writers have a valid point: young girls shouldn’t idolize celebrities like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears because they have poor values. However, the way the show mocks the how parents actually do overlook the fact that their young daughters are mimicking the actions of these sexually provocative celebrities only feeds the fire.


When young girls watch this episode they are further confused as to their role in social settings. In one scene of this episode, the popular girls throw a “sex party” that Wendy is not invited to. This makes the female viewer think about the pressures they experience in their own social settings and enhances the thought that they must conform to these pressures to be considered popular. The supposed “moral” of the story attempts to contradict this social pressure by imposing that being a whore is wrong. However, young girls don’t see these celebrities as whores, and they discard the “moral” to concentrate on what might make them more popular.


Jean Kilbourne discusses how the media and advertising reinforces social pressures on young girls in her article, “The More You Subtract, The More You Add.” This episode of South Park brings to the table the exact type of advertising that Kilbourne is referring to: the kind that promotes girls to be someone else. By ridiculing this type of advertising in their storylines, the writers are adding another piece of media that confuses young girls to the picture.


Even though the writers try to justify the episode by expressing that girls should not want to be whores, the humor factor desensitizes the justification and the popular crowd still comes out looking correct. Young girls find these messages contradicting and their roles as females in society become unclear. As Kilbourne notes, “The culture, both reflected and reinforced by advertising, urges girls to adopt a false self, to bury alive their real selves…” (259). Although this episode articulates a type of advertising that is a bit of a twist of Killbourne’s vision of what society pushes girls to be, the fact that the girls are pushed to be someone they aren’t is still evident.


Would it not be beneficial to young girls not to be further exposed to these pressures though shows like South Park? Yes, the show is popular and the writers are intelligent, but it is not intended for young audiences even though it is so easily accessible and entertaining to them. This episode, though it may seem justifiable to the mature audience, is further bolstering the idea to young girls that they should idolize celebrities because they are sexy and in style, which in turn adds to the social pressures they experience from peers and other media. The vulgar humor that this episode contains was not mentioned because of its severity, however; it is the reason that girls miss the “moral” of the story and are left to contemplate conforming to social norms.

A CLIP OF THIS EPISODE HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG... ENJOY!

Work Cited:
Kilbourne, Jean. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: "The More You Subtract, The More You Add". Second. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. California: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

Tara- nice job with this post. I like the way you've incorporated morality with satirical commentary. Perhaps the "popular group" appearing as though its still "on top," has less to do with reinforcing social norms than it does with illustrating the sheer absurdity of the situation--the whole show mocks the celebrity-crazed culture and the influence it has on kids. Therefore, it stands to reason that the satirical value is lost on parents (and most kids) is due to the lack of distance that kids and their parents have from the current culture. The show is showing an incredibly exaggerated depiction of the societal encouragement of the (hyper)sexuality of female celebs and the resultant interpretation and reiteration by girls; therefore, the "popular group-on-top" ending if fitting for a satirical commentary because it's part of the illustration of how this norm is so unquestionably accepted.