Running Head: A WORD THAT’S OFF LIMITS
A WORD THAT’S OFF LIMITS
Is the “F word” Off Limits?: What South Park Teaches Us
By Valerie Veak
South Park, an adult animated sitcom has consistently been known for pushing boundaries when discussing controversial issues. The show isn’t afraid to take certain political stances while also using crude humor, which makes viewers either love the show or despise it. In the paper, “Contentious Language: South Park and the Transformation of Meaning” by Marcus Schulzke, the author discusses how although South Park can be rather crass, it touches upon taboo topics and enlightens viewers on serious social affairs. The paper focuses on the episode “The F Word” which challenges censorship and the use of offensive language. Schulzke emphasizes that “the meaning of words and their power to offend is a central theme in South Park” (Schulzke, 2012, p. 23). The word fag has historically been used as a controversial remark towards homosexuals, however in this episode the word fag is shown to have a whole new meaning. The children of South Park defend themselves saying that their use of the word fag has no correlation to homosexuals. Schulzke brings up the question of which is more important: the detonation of a word or the implied connotation of the word. He goes on to explain that “meaning depends on both the speaker’s intention and the listener’s reception” (Schulzke, 2012, p.28).
Over time it is possible for certain words to be perceived differently by society, whether that is negative or positive. The reading states that, “the clearest and strongest argument the episode invokes is that the word fag has already undergone a shift in meaning. It is regularly used as an insult against anyone deemed annoying or unpleasant, without any sexual connotation” (Schulzke, 2012, p.28). With every new generation, people are growing up differently than the previous and therefore they have different beliefs and perceptions of sensitive
topics such as politic issues, censorship, sexuality, etc. For example, a few decades ago homosexuality was not as socially accepted as it is today. However, as someone who grew up in this day and age, homosexuality has never been this scandalous or wrong thing in my eyes,...