Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Yes, I am, Cartman--The Cool Judaism of Kyle Broslofski

The Deep End of South Park: Critical Essays on Television's Shocking Cartoon Series is now available from McFarland Publishing.

It contains my essay, "'Yes I Am, Cartman!': The Cool Judaism of Kyle Broslofski."

Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions, I had to take almost all of the direct quotations out (and substitute descriptions), so the writing doesn't have quite the same snap; that said, I kind of like this essay.

Here's a teaser:

The key to understanding Kyle’s superiority to Eric may be found in a close reading of an exchange in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. As the two boys face death, Eric offers a typically misguided apology: “Kyle, all those times I called you a stupid Jew, I didn't mean it. You're not a Jew.” When Kyle affirms that he is a Jew, Eric demurs, saying, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Among other things, this exchange highlights the fact that the word “Jew” is—at least in this exchange--devoid of content or meaning for Eric; it is a word that he understands is supposed to be insulting without really knowing why. This point is underscored by an earlier exchange when Eric’s teacher overhears him tell Kyle, “Don't call me fat, you fucking Jew!” When Mr. Garrison asks, “Eric, did you just say the F-word?” he looks puzzled and asks, “Jew?”
The quality that makes Kyle’s Judaism cool is its authenticity, a word I use to express its combination of pride (or at least its lack of shame) and its considered nature, leading to its individuality (a trait to which I will return later). Kyle’s Judaism is cool because it is unabashed; he does not attempt to hide it or “pass,” even when invited to do so (symbolically if not literally) by Eric. Even the form of Kyle’s affirmation, using as it does the English translation of the name God reveals to Moses in the book of Exodus, subtly underscores Kyle’s ability to appropriate the text and terminology shared with the Christian for his own use and purpose. Kyle accepts the name but he does not accept the meaning attached to it and in doing so he symbolically prevents Eric, other Christians, or indeed anyone else, from defining his spiritual identity for him.

You can purchase the book at this link.

No comments: