Summary: [Trigger warning: Not all instructors will feel comfortable screening an episode of South Park in the classroom, a show that is notorious for its "crude language and dark, surreal humor" on a wide range of often taboo topics. This episode is no exception. Specifically, instructors might be uncomfortable with this episode's treatment of youth suicide, violence, sex, sexual consent, and cultural/ethnic insensitivity.] In this South Park episode (season 11, episode two), South Park Elementary School student Cartman takes a photo of his own penis in his friend Butters's mouth while Butters is sleeping. Afterwards, Cartman tells his friends about what he did in order to ridicule Butters. However, Cartman didn't count one thing: this behavior is interpreted as a homosexual act and his friends start calling him "gay." Hoping to prove that he's not gay, Cartman believes he must convince Butters to reciprocate the act. Just as Cartman is about to carry out his plan in front of a blindfolded and unknowing Butters, Butters's father walks into the bedroom. Concerned that his little boy is bisexual, his father takes Butters to the priest, who diagnoses Butters as "confused" and suggests Butters attend a bi-curious boy's camp to heal Butters from this "disease." This video can be used as an example of how bisexual people are perceived as being confused about their sexual identity. As Ryle (2012) writes in Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration: "Bisexuals can receive negative reactions from both homosexuals and heterosexuals." She cites Ault's (1996) work that showed how some lesbian feminists "insist that there is no such thing as bisexuality. Bisexuals are either confused lesbians or heterosexuals who are experimenting" (201). The clip can also be used to initiate a discussion about cultural definitions of sexual orientation: Is it about behavior? Desire? Identity? Finally, the episode offers a framework for talking about sexuality as a choice or innate, and illustrates the ways in which heterosexuality gets defined as "normal" through a discourse of shame, guilt, and "fixing" or "curing" anything that deviates from a cultural heterosexual norm.
Submitted By: Nihal Celik