After this week’s South Park episode in which the characters decided to change the meaning of the word “fag,” using the epithet an unbleeped hundred or so times, GLAAD has issued a condemnation of the show, saying that its creators’ well-intended humor went over the heads of America’s dummies.
The creators of “South Park” are right on one important point: more and more people are using the F-word as an all-purpose insult. However, it is irresponsible and wrong to suggest that it is a benign insult or that promoting its use has no consequences for those who are the targets of anti-gay bullying and violence. This is a slur whose meaning remains rooted in homophobia. And while many “South Park” viewers will understand the sophisticated satire and critique in last night’s episode, others won’t – and if even a small number of those take from this a message that using the “F-word” is OK, it worsens the hostile climate that many in our community continue to face.
South Park routinely mocks homophobes and is generally considered one of the most gay-friendly shows on the air. Still, a reader at the above-linked NYT articles asks, “If they had used the “n” word instead of the “f” word, what would the response have been?”