Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Why we worship the economy : a Burkean analysis of South Park's "Margaritaville"

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  • The television show South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is viewed by millions of people each week, regularly addresses a number of controversial issues and plays a major role in contemporary popular culture. Current academic research acknowledges Parker and Stone's willingness to attack the dominant views surrounding a number of political and social issues. This research also identifies a number of rhetorical devices used in making these attacks. This thesis attempts to reconcile these rhetorical devices with the use of incongruity. Through an interdisciplinary approach to theories on decision making and through applying Burke's concepts of perspective by incongruity, master tropes and frames of acceptance and rejection, this thesis analyzes the South Park episode "Margaritaville." The question that is the focus of this thesis is: How does "Margaritaville" use planned incongruity to reframe dominant discussions concerning the United States financial crisis? The findings of this study indicate that through the use of Burke's master tropes and frames of acceptance and rejection "Margaritaville" both identifies and questions the American public's tendency to view the economy as they would a deity. This thesis determines that the episode "Margaritaville" has a positive effect on its ideal audience. Furthermore, this study demonstrates both the importance of developing an interdisciplinary theory of human decision-making and notes the utility of using a similar Burkean analysis to examine primetime, adult-oriented cartoons.
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