A few years ago South Park ran an episode in which the kids ‘randomly’ elected to kick red-headed classmates. The episode was blamed for inspiring a “Kick a Ginger” day in the real world.
The debate ensued, does art imitate life, does life imitate art, are video games ruining our society etc…
I like some of you have my theories on social discourse, public performances, and the potential for expanding the bounds of possibility but I hardly think the random – yet directed – group violence displayed on that South Park episode was particularly inspired, imaginative, or anything new.
Sure kids might have copied that particular iteration of bullying that day. But that makes it in no way qualitatively different from every other day within our schools. Not a day goes by that peer competition, aggression, and domination aren’t encouraged and celebrated by countless systems and practices. Each and every day certain physical attributes are celebrated, certain home languages are marked as inferior, certain sexual attractions are forbidden, certain ethnic histories are ignored etc.
Every day in every school there is a ginger of one form or another who is readily available as a target of group aggression and performative violence.
After a particular South Park episode kids took up the public humiliation of a visible minority group among their classmates. Surprise! Not 😦
Well I bring this back up today because I just got a news feed about a group of teens who gave a “slushie facial” to a gay man in Toronto.
And no sooner than you can say “OneTwoThree – Not It!” the fingers are pointing to the musical TV series Glee. And this is evidence by the fact that the “slushie facial” is something of a Glee meme.
Okay, but teens gay bashing? I am going to have to say the evidence is more than overwhelming that this act is utterly unoriginal.
So the question then is what could Glee have possibly offered these teens that was not already available to them in the area of ideas. In demarking the social categories and hierarchies of highschool I would actually estimate that Glee is in many ways one of the least original programs on the subject. So that wasn’t it.
And when it comes to both violent and idiotic group aggression among youth well this blog has chronicled more variations than I’d care to recall right now. So the slushie – yea – it was Kick a Ginger original. Grabbing what already is going on and throwing something the writers saw as absurd or funny in there to make sure we can all see it merely suggests they think their audience isn’t very smart.
I am not trying to take the show down or anything. I do think it has joined a host of other programs in expanding the public space of possibility for those of us living in the margins. And that is a wonderful thing.
But did seeing a homophobic bully on Glee “slushie” someone make a group of teens hate on a gay man in Toronto ?
I don’t think so. I’d just say it proved the fools utter lack of originality on multiple levels.