Eric Theodore Cartman is a fictional character on the American animated television series South Park. One of the four main characters along with fellow protagonists Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick, Cartman is often portrayed as the series' main antagonist in opposition of his friends. He debuted on television when South Park first aired on August 13, 1997; he had earlier appeared in "The Spirit of Christmas" shorts created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 1992 ("Jesus vs. Frosty") and 1995 ("Jesus vs. Santa").
Voiced by Trey Parker, Cartman is an overweight, spoiled, foul-mouthed, mean-spirited, selfish, and ill-tempered fourth-grader living with his hermaphroditic de facto mother in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, where he commonly has extraordinary experiences not typical of conventional small-town life.
Cartman is one of the most popular characters on the show, and has remained one of the most recognizable television characters ever since South Park became a hit during its first season. Parker and Stone describe the character as "a little Archie Bunker", and state that he is their favorite character, and the one with whom they most identify. During its thirteen seasons, South Park has received both praise and criticism for Cartman's tendency to be politically incorrect and shockingly profane. Prominent publications and television channels have included Cartman on their lists of the most iconic television and cartoon characters of all-time.
Role in South Park Edit
Cartman attends South Park Elementary as part of Mr. Garrison's fourth grade class. During the show's first 58 episodes (1997 until the season four episode "4th Grade" in 2000), Cartman and the other main child characters were in the third grade. He is an only child being raised by Liane Cartman, a promiscuous single parent who, despite exhibiting female characteristics and commonly being referred to as "Cartman's mom", is actually an intersexual who fathered Cartman, and the identity of his true birth mother has never been revealed.
Amongst the show's main child characters, Cartman is distinguished as "the fat one", and his obesity has been a continuing source of insults from other characters throughout the show's run. Cartman is frequently portrayed as an antagonist or villain whose actions set in motion the events serving as the main plot of an episode. Other children and classmates are alienated by Cartman's insensitive, racist, lazy, misogynistic, wildly insecure, and bigoted behavior, but are occasionally influenced by his obtrusive, manipulative, and propagandist antics. Fearing for his reputation after losing a fight to Wendy Testaburger in the season 12 (2008) episode "Breast Cancer Show Ever", Cartman received several assurances from numerous classmates that their opinion of him was already at the point where it could not have gotten any lower.
Kyle, who is Jewish, is often the recipient of the slander and anti-Semitic insults expressed by Cartman. The two have shared an enmity since the show's beginnings, and their rivalry has become significantly more pronounced as the series has progressed. Parker and Stone have compared the relationship to the one shared by Archie Bunker and Michael Stivic on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family. Kyle has a tendency to make what he thinks are safe bets with Cartman, and often loses these bets when the improbable actions promised by Cartman are accomplished. Cartman's motivation in this regard is not merely monetary gain, but an obsession with scoring a victory over Kyle, a fixation that ultimately played a major part in a subplot to the three-part episode "Imaginationland" (season 11, 2007). Cartman's resentment of Stan is usually reserved for when Cartman proudly exclaims his hatred for both Stan and Kyle as a duo, and his contempt for Stan as an individual is usually limited to his annoyance with Stan's sensitivity, affection for animals, and the relationship Stan shares with Wendy.
Cartman constantly teases Kenny for being poor, and derides Kenny's family for being on welfare. He will also use an awkward pause during a conversation as an opportunity to casually remind Kenny that he hates him. Kenny has indicated that he maintains a friendship with Cartman solely out of pity. Cartman's mischievous treatment of Butters Stotch, and the relationship the duo shares has received significant focus in the more recent seasons of the series. This is due in large part to Parker favoring the screen time they share together, claiming the scenes are the ones he most enjoys writing.
Several episodes center around Cartman's greed and his get-rich-quick schemes, although his numerous attempts to obtain wealth generally fail. His extreme disdain for hippies serves to satirize the counterculture of the 1960s and its influence in contemporary society, while also mirroring Parker's real-life hatred of hippies. Though the act is customarily performed by Stan or Kyle, Cartman will occasionally reflect on the lessons he has attained during the course of an episode with a speech that often begins with "You know, I learned something today...".
Creation and design Edit
A precursor to Cartman first appeared in the first "The Spirit of Christmas" short, dubbed "Jesus vs. Frosty", created by Parker and Stone in 1992 while they were students at the University of Colorado. In the short, Cartman was actually named "Kenny", and the catchphrase "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" was exclaimed when the character representing Cartman was killed by an evil snowman. The character was composed of construction paper cutouts and animated through the use of stop motion. When tasked three years later by friend Brian Graden to create another short as a video Christmas card that he could send to friends, Parker and Stone created another similarly-animated "The Spirit of Christmas" short, dubbed "Jesus vs. Santa". In this short, his character first appears as he does in the series, and is given the name "Cartman", while the character of Kenny appears as how the character is portrayed today and given Cartman's moniker from the previous short. Cartman next appeared on August 13, 1997, when South Park debuted on Comedy Central with the episode "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe".
In tradition with the show's animation style, Cartman is composed of simple geometrical shapes and primary colors. He is not offered the same free range of motion associated with hand-drawn characters; his character is mostly shown from only one angle, and his movements are animated in an intentionally jerky fashion. Ever since the show's second episode, "Weight Gain 4000" (season one, 1997), Cartman, like all other characters on the show, has been animated with computer software, though he is portrayed to give the impression that the show still utilizes its original technique.
Cartman is usually depicted wearing winter attire which consists of a red coat, brown pants, yellow gloves/mittens, and a yellow-brimmed turquoise knit cap tapered with a yellow pom-pon. He has parted brown hair, and he is seen without his hat more often than the other characters with distinctive head wear. As he is overweight, his body is wider and his head is animated in a more elliptical shape in contrast to the circular-shaped heads of the other children on the show. An additional curved line is drawn on his lower face to give the impression of a double chin.
Although he had originally voiced Cartman without any computer manipulation, Parker now does so by speaking within his normal vocal range with a child-like inflection. The recorded audio is then edited with Pro Tools, and the pitch is altered to make the voice sound like that of a fourth grader. Parker says to achieve the effect of Cartman's voice, he simply uses the same technique when voicing Stan while "adding a lot of fat to it".
Cartman is partially both named after and based on Matt Karpman, a high school classmate of Parker who remains a friend of both Parker and Stone. Cartman is also inspired by All in the Family patriarch Archie Bunker, of whom Parker and Stone are fans. They state that creating Cartman as a "little eight-year-old fat kid" made it easier for the two to portray a Bunker-like character after the introduction of political correctness to late-20th century television. When incorporating aspects into the character, Parker once determined that everyone either remembers "an annoying fat kid in their pasts", or "they were the annoying fat kid". Stone has observed that "kids are not nice, innocent, flower-loving little rainbow children [...] they don't have any kind of social tact or etiquette, they're just complete little raging bastards".
In the season five (2001) episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die", Cartman, feeling cheated out of $16.12 by a local ninth-grader named Scott Tenorman, successfully executes an elaborate scheme to publicly humiliate Scott in front of his favorite band Radiohead, but not before tricking him into eating his own recently deceased parents. The show's writers debated during production of the episode as to whether or not the incident would be "a step too far, even for Cartman". Parker felt that the act could sufficiently be the culmination of Cartman's sociopathic behavior, and would "[set] a new bar" by portraying Cartman as being capable of performing anything short of murder. Fans reacted by ranking it as Cartman's "greatest moment" in a 2005 poll on Comedy Central's website.
Personality and traits Edit
Cartman is foul-mouthed (a trait present in his friends as well) as a means for Parker and Stone to display how they claim young boys really talk when they are alone. While Parker notes that there is an "underlying sweetness" aspect in the show's child characters, Cartman does not possess this redeeming quality. Cartman is amused by bodily functions and toilet humor, and his favorite television personalities are Terrance and Phillip, a Canadian duo whose comedy routines on their show-within-the-show revolve substantially around fart jokes.
Cartman is in denial of his obesity, often reasserting Liane's notion by exclaiming "I'm not fat, I'm big-boned!". He views himself as more mature than his fellow friends and classmates, and often grows impatient with their company. This would often lead to loud arguments, which in earlier seasons typically ended with Cartman peevishly saying "Screw you guys... I'm going home!" upon leaving. In an action King's College philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson describes as "directed either toward accomplishing his own happiness or the unhappiness of others", Cartman often feigns actual friendship with his fellow classmates when needing a favor. The lack of a true father figure in his life, and Liane's promiscuity and drug use have caused repressed psychological hardship in Cartman's life. As a parent, Liane spoils Cartman, and is largely ineffectual as a disciplinarian. Cartman sometimes authoritatively commands his mom to do tasks for him, but more often employs the means of speaking in an ingratiating tone when pleading with her. When neither method works, he resorts to excessive and indecipherable whining, with Liane usually succumbing to her over-indulgence. Parker has noted that this is the primary cause for Cartman's behavior, stating that Cartman is "just a product of his environment".
We always had this thing where Cartman's mother was so sweet — she was always so sweet to him and giving him whatever he wanted. And I don't know if it's worse in L.A. than most places in the country — I hope so — but [we've met] so many parents who were just so desperately trying to be friends to their kids. And it was the thing we really picked up on. And it was just like, 'These [people] are making these really evil kids'.
Cartman thrives on being granted ascendancy over others, and exerts his will by making the demand of "Respect my authority!", accentuating the last syllable of "authority" and pronouncing it Template:IPA-en. He has shown an initiative in taking a businesslike approach to earning money, starting his own "hippie control", and "parental revenge" operations.
Cartman's anti-Semitism, while largely limited to mocking Kyle, culminated in the season eight (2004) episode "The Passion of the Jew". In the episode, Cartman, after watching The Passion of the Christ numerous times, deifies the film's director, Mel Gibson, and starts an official Gibson fan club, praising Gibson for "trying to express — through cinema — the horror and filthiness of the common Jew". Cartman's interpretation of the film influences him to dress up as Adolf Hitler and lead other fan club members (who are clueless as to Cartman's actual intentions) in a failed effort to engage in a systematic genocide of the Jews similar to that of the Final Solution. In the season 10 (2006) episode "Smug Alert!", Cartman anonymously saved Kyle's life in an effort to get him and his family to return to South Park from San Francisco, revealing that he craves the animosity shared between the two.
Upon hearing his classmates tell him that they hold him in the lowest regard possible, a stubborn Cartman misinterpreted this act as their attempt to make him feel better, and obstinately convinced himself that everyone thought he was the "coolest kid in school". In the season 13 (2009) episode "Fishsticks", Cartman subconsciously believes that he solely created a joke that quickly becomes a nationwide sensation, despite the fact that the character Jimmy Vulmer wrote the joke without any assistance. Carlos Delgado of If Magazine noted this as "Cartman being so egotistical that he manipulates the past to serve his own purposes".
Cultural Impact EditCartman is a South Park fan favorite, and is often described as the most famous character from the series. With a headline to their online written version of a radio report, NPR declared Cartman as "America's Favorite Little $@#&*%". "Respect my authority!" and "Screw you guys ...I'm going home!" became catchphrases and, during the show's earlier seasons, were highly popular in the lexicon of viewers. His eccentric annunciation of "Hey!" was included in the 2002 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Catchphrases. Stone has said that when fans recognize him or Parker, the fans will usually do their imitation of Cartman, or, in Parker's case, request that he do Cartman's voice.
In 2005, Comedy Central ran a three-night marathon of episodes showcasing what voters had deemed to be his "25 greatest moments". A two-disc DVD collection entitled "The Cult of Cartman", which Comedy Central described as "12 classic episodes with Cartman at his very worst!", was released in 2008.
In a 1999 poll conducted by NatWest Bank, eight and nine-year-old children in the United Kingdom voted Cartman as their favorite personality. This drew the concern of several parent councils who were expecting an actual character from a television show aimed at children to top the list, to which Stone responded by claiming the results of the poll were "upsetting to people who have an idyllic vision of what kids are like". Parker and Stone have always asserted that due to Cartman's actions and dialogue, his appearances in South Park are not meant to be viewed by younger children, and they note that the show is certified with TV ratings that indicate its intention for mature audiences.
While some in the Jewish community have praised the show's depiction of Cartman holding an anti-Semitic attitude towards Kyle as a means of accurately portraying what it is like for a young Jew to have to endure bigotry as an ethnic minority, other Jews have blamed South Park and Cartman for having found themselves surrounded by "acceptable racism". On November 20, 2008, a Facebook group titled "National Kick a Ginger Day, are you going to do it?" surfaced, suggesting abuse towards redheads. Thousands of internet users signed up as a member of the group, and reports of a feared increase of bullying of red-headed students across Canada soon followed. The group's administrator, a 14-year old from Vancouver Island, said the group was only intended as a joke, and apologized for the offense it caused. The group was inspired by the season nine (2005) episode "Ginger Kids", in which Cartman incites prejudice towards those with red hair, pale skin, and freckles, a group he calls "Gingers" and claims are inherently evil and without souls.
Other characters commonly express lessons learned from the antagonistic actions Cartman commonly provokes; this has resulted in these characters giving their opinions on issues such as hate crime legislation, civil liberties, excessive religious devotion, the stem cell controversy, anabolic steroid use, the "right to die" debate, and prejudice. In the season 10 (2006) episode "Cartoon Wars Part II", Cartman, planning to exploit the public's fear of terrorism, seeks to get the Fox television series Family Guy, a program he despises, permanently removed from the airwaves when Fox plans to air an episode despite its inclusion of a cartoon likeness of Muhammad. This leads Kyle to give a short speech about the ethics of censorship, which reiterates Parker and Stone's sentiments of "Either it's all okay, or none of it is" in regards to whether or not any subject should remain off-limits to satire. Both Cartman's commentary and the commentary resulting in response to his actions have been interpreted as statements Parker and Stone are attempting to make to the viewing public, and these opinions have been subject to much critical analysis in the media and literary world.
The book South Park and Philosophy: You Know, I Learned Something Today includes an essay in which Johnson uses Cartman's actions and behavior as examples when discussing the logical problem of moral evil, and another essay by College of Staten Island professor Mark D. White cited the season two (1998) episode "Chickenlover", in which Cartman is temporarily granted law enforcement powers, in its discussion regarding the command theory of law and what obligates a citizen to obey the law. Essays in the books South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer, and More Penetrating, Blame Canada! South Park and Contemporary Culture, and Taking South Park Seriously have also analyzed Cartman's perspectives within the framework of popular philosophical, theological, political, and social concepts. Parker and Stone downplay the show's alignment with any particular political affiliation, and deny having a political agenda when creating an episode. In response to the focus on elements of satire in South Park, Parker has said that the main goal of the show is to portray Cartman and his friends as "kids just being kids" as a means of accurately showcasing "what it's like to be in [elementary school] in America".
Cartman ranked 10th on TV Guide's 2002 list of the "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters", 198th on VH1's "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons", and 19th on Bravo's "100 Greatest TV Characters" television special in 2004. When declaring him the second-scariest character on television (behind only Mr. Burns of The Simpsons) in 2005, MSNBC's Brian Bellmont described Cartman as a "bundle of pure, unadulterated evil all wrapped up in a fat — er, big-boned — cartoony package" who "takes a feral delight in his evildoing".
In other media Edit
Cartman had a major role in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the full-length film based on the series, and appeared on the film's soundtrack singing the same musical numbers performed in the movie. As a tribute to the Dead Parrot sketch, a short that features Cartman attempting to return a dead Kenny to a shop run by Kyle aired during a 1999 BBC television special commemorating the 30th anniversary of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Cartman is also featured in the documentary film The Aristocrats, telling his version of the film's titular joke to Stan, Kyle, and Kenny, and in the "The Gauntlet", a short spoofing both Gladiator and Battlefield Earth that aired during the 2000 MTV Movie Awards. Short clips of Cartman introducing the starting lineup for the University of Colorado football team were featured during ABC's coverage of the 2007 match-up between the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska. In 2008, Parker, as Cartman, gave answers to a Proust Questionnaire conducted by Julie Rovner of NPR.
Parker performs as Cartman on tracks for Chef Aid: The South Park Album and Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics. Cartman also appears in all three South Park-related video games: In South Park, Cartman is controlled by the player through the first person shooter mode who attempts to ward off enemies from terrorizing the town of South Park. In South Park: Chef's Luv Shack, a user has the option of playing as Cartman when participating in the game's several "minigames" based on other popular arcade games. In the racing game South Park Rally, a user can race as Cartman against other users playing as other characters, while choosing to place him in any of a variety of vehicles.
- ↑ Melanie McFarland (2006-09-30). "Oh my God, 'South Park' killed a decade!". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. http://www.seattlepi.com/tv/287052_southpark02.html. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jaime J. Weinman (2008-03-12). "South Park grows up". Macleans.ca. http://www.macleans.ca/culture/entertainment/article.jsp?content=20080312_115131_115131&page=2. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
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- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Rovner, Julie (2008-04-05). "Eric Cartman: America's Favorite Little $@#&*%". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89375695. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- ↑ Jonathan Groce (2003-04-18). "Entertainment and wartime make strange bedfellows". The Johns Hopkins News-Letter. http://www.jhunewsletter.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrinterFriendly&uStory_id=6df86a6b-d16e-4132-8018-ab8e298474bf. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
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- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Jesse McKinley (2003-04-10). "Norman Lear Discovers Soul Mates in 'South Park'". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/movies/norman-lear-discovers-soul-mates-in-south-park.html. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
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- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Arp and Johnson, pp. 213-223
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- ↑ Amber Conrad (2008-06-03). "25 Things I Learned About Business from "South Park"". InsideCRM. http://www.insidecrm.com/features/south-park-business-lessons-060308/. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
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- ↑ Delgado, Carlos (2009-04-09). ""TV Review: South Park - Season 13 - "Fishsticks"". If Magazine. http://www.ifmagazine.com/review.asp?article=3168. Retrieved 2009-04-10.
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- ↑ Hemant Tavathia (2003-04-11). "MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT 2: South Park Hits 100". Kidsnewsroom.org. http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/newsissues/041103/index.asp?page=Music2. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
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- ↑ David Dale (2002-12-28). "The Oxford Dictionary of Catchphrases". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/12/27/1040511174507.html. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
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- ↑ David Lambert (2008-07-14). "Join the Cult of Cartman this October". TVShowsOnDVD.com. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/South-Park-Cult-of-Cartman/10055. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
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- ↑ Lawrie Mifflin (1998-04-06). "TV Stretches Limits of Taste, to Little Outcry". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/06/arts/tv-stretches-limits-of-taste-to-little-outcry.html?pagewanted=2. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
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- ↑ "Various - Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut". www.discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Various-Music-From-And-Inspired-By-The-Motion-Picture-South-Park-Bigger-Longer-Uncut/release/1396078. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
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- ↑ Ortega, Tony (2001-09-27). "Sympathy For The Devil: Tory Bezazian was a veteran Scientologist who loved going after church critics. Until she met the darkest detractor of all.". New Times Los Angeles.
- ↑ Trey Parker, Matt Stone (2000). The Gauntlet (Television special). MTV, Comedy Central. Short that aired during the 2000 MTV Movie Awards
- ↑ Browne, David (1999-01-08). "Shower Hooks". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,273973,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- ↑ Nazareth, Errol. "'Chef' Hayes cooks crazy stew". jam.canoe.ca. http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/H/Hayes_Isaac/1998/11/27/745908.html. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- ↑ Moorhead, M.V. (1999-12-23). "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics". Phoenix New Times. http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/1999-12-23/music/various-artists/. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- ↑ Baker, Christopher Michael. "South Park - Overview". Allgame. http://allgame.com/game.php?id=19249. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
- ↑ "Review: South Park: Chef's Luv Shack". ComputerAndVideoGames.com. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=2100. Retrieved 2009-07-19.
- ↑ "South Park Rally Preview". IGN. http://uk.dreamcast.ign.com/articles/133/133474p1.html. Retrieved 2009-07-19.
- Arp, Robert (Editor); Jacoby, Henry; Johnson, David Kyle; Miller, Ellen; White, Mark D. (2006). South Park and Philosophy: You Know, I Learned Something Today. Blackwell Publishing (The Blackwell Philosophy & Pop Culture Series). ISBN 978-1-4051-6160-2.
- Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew (Editor); Fallows, Randall (2008). Taking South Park Seriously. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0791475669.
- Eric Cartman at South Park Studios