Anti-Semitism in the playground - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Anti-Semitism in the playground

I have suddenly found myself surrounded by `acceptable racism', thanks to a cartoon

HAVE YOU ever watched an episode of South Park? Let me tell you about it.

It is on Channel 4 and Sky. It has a cute and innocent facade and can, at first, seem quite charming. The images are basic and the characters walk sideways. Cute huh? Well, what about this line: "Kyle's mum's a fucking Jew."

This was delivered by the obnoxious character called Cartman in front of millions of admiring young children who have now decided it is cool to take the piss out of Jews. Of course, this isn't the only thing about the show that is racist. My nine-year-old sister goes to school with a South Park bag. She tells me how all her little friends watch South Park and love it. She has listened to children in the playground singing the "I'm a lonely Jew at Christmas" song from the South Park Christmas special. South Park has an ongoing anti-Semitic theme, which is justified by one of its creators, Matt Stone, on the grounds that he is Jewish himself.

Let me set the record straight. I've little time for political correctness. I don't call short people vertically challenged; I call them short arses. I love South Park. It's great that a programme like that takes risks. However, I'm a 17-year-old non-orthodox Jewish student living in West London - and I have suddenly found myself surrounded by "acceptable racism" that I believe is due to South Park.

I noticed this first a few months ago when I was at my best friend Stephen's house. I was sitting in his living room before we went out to a party. Stephen went into the kitchen to make himself a quick sandwich. His 13- year-old brother, James, was in there, also about to go out. James needed to borrow some money from Stephen so asked him for pounds 10. Stephen only offered to lend him five. Then came the shock. James said, as if it were no big deal: "Stephen, don't be a Jew." He did not seem to care that a Jew was sitting in the room next to him. I started feeling sick with despair that an innocent child, thinking it to be acceptable, even with a Jew in his presence was now using the stingy Jew archetype, an image Nazis and racist Jew haters use. What the hell was going on? I didn't know about South Park at the time.

At the party, people were routinely using the term "Jew" as an insult. One guy I knew was a proud Scot, who was extremely defensive of people who attacked his heritage. And there he was, calling people tight Jews at the top of his voice - and no one seemed particularly bothered. I, however, felt hurt and genuinely insulted.

This is a similar situation to the controversy over Goodness Gracious Me, the comedy series based on Asians made by Asians. I remember sitting in a lesson with my Indian friend, Daniel, who was upset by the show as people were using it as an excuse to be racist. I remember telling him to lighten up and that it was only a bit of affectionate fun. Now however, seeing the same thing happen to my own kind, I can sympathise with how he was feeling.

I understand and enjoy ironic use of racism, but it requires a sophisticated audience which knows racism is wrong. The problem is that the South Park audience mainly consists of young children. This is a comedy version of alcopops.

So, is South Park's humour acceptable considering one of its creators is Jewish? Yes. What is not acceptable is its target audience. There has been no effort to protect children from this show.

Angela Farrugia, joint managing director of the company which licences the South Park merchandise says that "we have been very careful to target all our products and ads at the 18-plus market". This, as anybody with an IQ above Cartman's would understand, is a little disingenuous. The merchandise is available in every shop, in every high street, to every age group.

Believe it or not, I don't believe in censorship. What I believe in is parental responsibility. Children aren't shown by their parents that it is OK to laugh at South Park jokes because they are actually making fun of the scum in society who genuinely are racist. Instead, children think it is OK to be racist and that nobody will be offended.

There is an episode of the show in which the children watch a television show that contains rude words and celebrates farting. All the South Park parents become angry and catapult themselves at the show's head office building in protest, becoming bloody splats on the wall. It makes the point that parents tend to see television as the "sole babysitter" of their children and take no responsibility. I would agree. Let's hang on to South Park but if we're going to sell it to the kids, the least we can do is teach the kids how to handle the humour.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Arts and Entertainment
Queen Christina left the judges baffled with her audition
X Factor
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week