Media Perceptions of the Rwandan Genocide

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Researching Animation
“Critically evaluate how representations of impairment are organised within an animated text of your choice?”

Throughout I will be discussing the representations of impairment in the hit US T.V. show, South Park (1997). I will be exploring the various notions of impairments within South Park (1997) throughout and the ways in which the impaired characters are being represented as a medium throughout. Furthering this I will be using an extensive bulk of primary and secondary research to add clarity and depth to my arguments on the representations of impairment throughout, the subject matter of impairment in animation is not necessarily a subject that has been studied in great depth, so for my research I will be studying, in depth, more socialist opinions, theories and ideologies of impairment and critically applying these notions critically and applicably to my chosen subject area. I will then be conclusive within my arguments by offering a resolution into the representations of the physically and mentally impaired throughout South Park (1997) in its entirety.

Traditionally throughout television and cinema history the representations of disability have faced great deals of scrutiny and Sinicism as Norris describes; “disability in cinematic and televisual contexts has been co-opted too often into depictions of monstrousness, villainy, criminality and revenge” (Norris, 2008). It is these certain elements that have determined cinema in representations of disability in films such as; Edward scissor hands (1990) and Mask (1985) both films depicting triumph and overcoming disabilities, begin with objective monstrous isolation. It is this transgression of assumption in post-modern animation in which I will be discussing throughout and using South Park(1997) as a core text to reinforce my argument as a whole.

“These images are constructed as a response to concerns about broader social perceptions of the physically disabled and once scrutinized it is apparent that they are managed through established notions of comic incongruity. This is a framework that not only aids a less reductive insight into the lives of those restricted in mobility but it provides a comic contrast to the serious messages being imparted about ignorance, stereotyping and access.” (Norris, 2008)

Although Norris is discussing the British television series Creature Discomforts (2007) the notions of scrutiny, comic incongruity and stereotyping become extremely relevant to the central text within my study. South Park (1997), an animated show created in the late 90’s by producers Matt Stone and Trey Parker who were famed for their uses of Cut-out animation, comic incongruity and shocking levels of contemporary irony within their humour, consistently pushing boundaries by using shocking imagery and overtly crass humour to shock the audience causing inexplicable backlashes from political, feminist and racial awareness groups. As the show progressed, writers Parker and Stone rejected the budget appearance of cut-out animations and transgressed into computer animation as popularity grew larger. The show itself follows the lives of four fourth grade students and the problems and struggles of growing up in a small, predominantly white middle-class town called ‘South Park’ in Colorado. The show exposes numerous social issues such as; Gender, class, race and disability, their uses of the incongruous reactionary comedy and the utter absurd to expose global contemporary Issues have become key factors to the success of the show. However throughout this essay I will be exploring the notions of impairment and disability in greater depth and discuss how these contemporary issues are being represented within the show.

I will begin by looking at the characters of physical impairment; Timmy, Jimmy and Nurse Gollum . At first appearance the shows intent on these issues are somewhat foggy, however when doing a critical contextual...
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