The Fanboy/Fangirl is generally a person who is heavily invested in the lives of fictional characters and worlds. To an outsider this can often seem very odd or strange, yet is often because these stories and characters allow us to better process and come to terms with the world around us, especially when we just don’t understand the behavior or beliefs of the masses.
With the recent release and recall of the book, Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer it was another moment where I wondered, “How can this be a thing.” As a small press author I understand the long process between writing a manuscript and seeing it published. The number of people that look over a work is quite daunting even at a low level, let alone Random House. How many people read this clearly sexist/misogynistic story aimed at children and saw nothing wrong? This isn’t rhetorical, I want a figure.
I recently re-watched South Park Season 17’s episode The Hobbit and recognized how far we have not come in the last year. The episode follows Wendy attempts to expose the dangers of photoshopped images when they are viewed as reality. In an attempt to show Butters that his idea of beauty is not in line with reality after he tells Lisa Burger he will not date her because she is too fat. Butters states he wishes for a woman that looks like Kim Kardashian. Wendy tells Butters that these images are lies and brings him into the school computer lab and alters an image of Lisa Burger so that she reach an unrealistic concept of beauty. After seeing this image Butters decides he does want to date her. When the picture circulates throughout the school Lisa becomes the hottest girl, and other girls want Wendy to alter pictures of themselves so they will be perceived as more attractive.
Wendy argues with students and teachers that these images warp our concepts of actual beauty and the value of people, to no avail. She cannot convince others of the truth she sees as blindingly obvious. The final straw comes in the betrayal of her boy friend Stan, when he asks for an updated picture of her. This is code for a digitally altered image.
In a damning and emotionally earned conclusion Wendy returns to the computer lab crying. Slowly she alters her image and after a brief pause sends it to her friend list. She leaves the computer lab, and the credits roll over the empty room.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone don’t give us the classic, I’ve learned something today moment their show is so well known for. And they shouldn’t because we haven’t earned it. Kim Kardashian was recently in the news again for being naked(something I am every day in the shower) and the concerns Wendy has are just as pressing as they were last year. We have learned nothing today. South Park doesn’t always age well because of its topical nature. The fact his episode is still so damning speaks volumes.