Are you along for the ride or steering the ship?

This weeks viewing, South Park’s “Tweek x Craig”, brought about an interesting question to myself. Where do ideas originate? And how do those ideas affect those outside of the originator. In this episode of South Park we are confronted with a dilema that emerges for the characters Tweek x Craig; though they are not in a relationship, imagery presenting them in a relationship is viewed by their piers. This idea has now been released to a variety of people and given the attention this idea received it is at the forefront of many of their piers (as well as their towns) perception of these individuals. This shift in perception of Tweek and Craig by so many of the people they interact with daily affects their own perception of their universe, and ultimately their view of each other. By the end of the episode Tweek x Craig’s relationship really isn’t their own relationship, it becomes bigger than them and a focal point for many people throughout South Park. So for the good of the larger community as a whole Tweek x Craig are forced to accept and perform an idea that is foreign to their own perception.

If we extend the metaphor out, South Park is a very popular television show, it has been around for numerous seasons and has a broad fanbase. Each episode is scrutinized and dissected by many and spurs forward many fan theories as well as fan fictions and creations. In fact, the Tweek x Craig relationship originated on the internet way back in 2005, a full 10 years before this episode aired (known as Creek! How cute is that)! This lends the question, at this point has the idea of South Park and what it represents been removed from the hands of the creators and placed in the hands of the larger community as a whole? At what point does the idea no longer belong solely to the creator and is now the intellectual property of a larger base of people, and how do those who have wider control of the idea react to the new environment the idea exists in? Do they embrace the community, and even rely on the community as a source of inspiration in how the idea is portrayed like in the case of South Park? Or do they maintain in full control of the creative processes of the idea, not relying on or appealing towards the opinions of the larger community? In the end, which route does the wider community appreciate more, to know and contribute towards the ideas collective destiny or just be a passive observer to it’s creation as a whole?


One thought on “Are you along for the ride or steering the ship?

  1. Harald,

    You raise a lot of great points here about authorship and the role of the viewer. When we discuss texts, we often act as though a film or television show is solely the creation of the director/writer/producer/etc. But viewers–either through the interpretation within their own minds or by the pressure they exert as consumers and fans–can also shape popular texts. I really like that you drew parallels here between how Craig and Tweek’s worlds were similar shaped by the audience’s expectations. In many ways, this might be South Park’s commentary are their own relationship with their fans. In terms of gender and sexuality, do you think social expectations/culture have any influence on how people behave (unconsciously)?


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