Monday, April 23, 2012
Timmy Voted Favorite disabled Character on television
Timmy and Jimmy on South Park
It's ironic that Comedy Central execs were on the fence about Timmy joining the cast of the already provocative show, South Park. Touting themselves as "equal opportunity offenders," South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker fought to include Timmy. He's characterized by a constant grin, motorized wheelchair and the animated use of his own name to express his thoughts.
His disability is never identified (he might be a kid with CP, but an episode reveals that both of his parents are living with a similar condition, alluding to a genetic predisposition), but Timmy is every bit as twisted and thoroughly lovable as the rest of the kids in South Park. His depiction is unabashed, full-on satire, and easily the boldest representation of disability on American television ever. So revered, in fact, that he was voted "The Greatest Disabled TV Character" by a progressive British audience in a poll posed by BBC disability-centric site, OUCH! in 2005.
Timmy is a welcomed member of the South Park crew, teased, tormented and adored even by the ill-tempered bully, Cartman. Timmy isn't just a happy-go-lucky kid, but has a playfully maniacal side.
Upon introduction to South Park's newest crip, Jimmy (a shaggy-haired charmer on crutches who wins the gang over with his stand-up comedy act), in the episode "Cripple Fight," Timmy becomes noticeably jealous and even plots to have Jimmy killed. A knock-drown, drag-out fight ensues between the boys as yet another example of just how far Parker and Stone are willing to go. However, the episode resolves with the boys joining forces to become allies. The duo even become accepted by the street gang, the Crips, in a later episode titled "Krazy Kripples."
As audience members, we hoped for Timmy's success in using 'Gobbles', a turkey with a physical limitation, in a holiday production of the Helen Keller story. We thrust our fists into the air when he snagged a spot as front man in the thrash metal band "The Lords of the Underworld," and nodded our heads in happy agreement when his bandmates complained, "Timmy gets all the chicks." Timmy never loses face, and the invitation to laugh with him is constant.
Part of the appeal of characters like Timmy is that they give people the opportunity to start a dialogue about what's acceptable and what's just downright offensive.