Can someone support Caitlyn Jenner's transition without thinking she's a hero who is stunning and brave? "South Park" kicked off its 19th season last night with that very question in mind -- and that obviously made a lot of viewers nervous.
After all, this is a show that aired a controversial depiction of the prophet Muhammad. There was no telling what Trey Parker and Matt Stone would do now that Caitlyn Jenner, arguably the summer's biggest star, was the subject of their satire. But to be perfectly honest, despite the episode's title, "Stunning and Brave," this wasn't an episode about Jenner. This was an episode about political correctness and the dialogue it can create in a community -- online or otherwise.
At the beginning of the episode, South Park Elementary gets a new principal: PC Principal, a tough school administrator who is "sick and tired of how minority groups are marginalized in today’s society" (and especially in South Park). PC Principal is a Social Justice Warrior -- with the demeanor of a foul-mouthed frat bro.
PC Principal's first target is Kyle, who is overheard saying, "I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner is a hero." But that kind of "transphobic and bigoted hate speech" -- mind you, PC Principal has no idea why Kyle said what he said; no context is given -- isn't going to fly in the halls of South Park Elementary anymore.
"I thought we were all on board that Caitlyn Jenner is an amazing beautiful woman who had the exquisite bravery of a beautiful butterfly flying against the wind," the meathead principal says. "And then this s--t flies out of people's mouths!"
Kyle is given three-days detention for his remarks, and Cartman -- the most foul-mouthed, offensive character in TV history -- sets his sights on a new challenge: destroying PC Principal's PC Campaign. He decides to emulate his idol Tom Brady and "deny and subvert." ...But he gets beaten to a pulp by PC Principal, which means, at least for now, PC Principal and his PC Fraternity are here to stay in South Park.
Meanwhile, Kyle confesses why he doesn't think Caitlyn Jenner is a hero. It isn't because he doesn’t support her transition; it's because he doesn't like Caitlyn Jenner.
Kyle, however, is ultimately forced to make a statement: "There's no other way to say it," he says. "What she did took bravery, and she is absolutely stunning."
If you don't think Caitlyn Jenner is a hero, you're certainly entitled to that opinion. In fact, saying Jenner can never be addressed as anything other than "stunning" and "brave" and a "hero" is ignorant to her own faults and supreme privilege. "South Park" addressed that dichotomy head on by starting a conversation -- and in true Parker and Stone fashion, they may have ruffled feathers along the way.
But just so we're clear: when it comes to pronouns, using the wrong pronouns to talk about Jenner is horribly offensive. That's not an issue of political correctness; that's just plain human decency. If you want to be a garbage person, that's on you.