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Kenny McCormick

They say cats have nine lives but Kenny seems to have countless! South Park’s most resilient resident completes the quartet which is the heart and soul of the show. Kenny McCormick is a manifestation of the typical small-town stereotype: “the poor kid”, which entails growing up against the backdrop of a large family, unemployed, alcoholic parents and cold waffles for dinner.
 He’s friends with his fellow third graders, Stan and Kyle and deigns to acknowledge Cartman solely out of pity. His signature orange parka, drawn tightly at the face, muffles his speech a lot, making him illegible to the adults, but his friends understand him perfectly (when have adults ever understood kids?) But don’t go by his muffle, his words are pretty risqué and he’s a repository of all that concerns the birds and the bees. He enjoys jokes of a scatological nature and is willing to do anything to earn a quick buck or impress someone.
However, the most striking thing about Kenny is his frequency of dying and reappearance with little or no explanation. Episode after episode, it’s been a long standing gag to give us kicks by making him kick the bucket, causing his friends utter that cult-status catchphrase and bring him back to life (I wonder if Ekta Kapoor is a South Park fan?) The show’s creators, Parker and Stone, infact, modeled Kenny on a real-life childhood friend of the same name, financial status, parka and speech characteristics. The flesh and blood Kenny had a tendency to skip school, which Parker and his friends would jokingly construe as his death and then ignore this anomaly, when he resumed attendance a few days later. And this attitude had percolated into South Park’s universe. Which annoys Kenny sometimes, that his buddies take his existence (or non-existence) for granted.
As is the norm, behind a lot of pointless drivel peddled by popular culture, there is an underlying facet of the human psyche. Kenny’s deaths have been thoroughly dissected by many, to give it a deeper meaning. Some say the recurring gag is a way of making us feel comfortable with the inevitability of death. But the show doesn’t always treat the subject with frivolity. The sensitive portrayal of the dilemma of euthanizing Kenny earned South Park its first Emmy! But allow me to add my interpretation to the growing list as well.
Don’t we all die a death everyday when we face humiliation, obstacles, failures? Death of our hopes, our dreams, our little endeavors. What we should be burying six feet under, instead of ourselves, is all the negativity and the naysayers’ unwanted tripe, and spring back to life again. A fresh start every time, a clean slate until it’s sullied again and allowed to fade into oblivion, by the strength of our will.
Kenny is actually a Messiah, showing us the temporal nature of existence. He’s like Jesus Christ, resurrecting himself every time, for the benefit of his loyal followers….okay so it was Cartman who got to play Christ (the tubbiest actor to portray Jesus in the history of the Re-enactment!) but Kenny’s still a Saviour, if you consider his un-muffled alter ego, Mysterion, the unknown protector, who watches over South Park, in the dead of the night.

So no matter how Kenny dies - smashed by a piano, sliced in half by a chainsaw, squished by a descending elevator, syphilis (my, kids grow up so fast these days!) or mistaken by Michael Jackson as his son, he’s the funny phoenix who rises from the ashes of hilarity always. He’s immortal (jealous much, Lord Voldemort?), immortalized through his wirepullers’ wishes as well as the love of his fans. And what can’t Kenny do? Kenny can attend Jewish camp inspite of being a Protestant, Kenny can have more Facebook friends than Stan and Kyle, Kenny can date a fifth grader, Kenny can get under Cartman’s skin, Kenny can…………wait a minute…Kenny? Kenny?
Happy New Year guys!

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Sayonee Ghosh Roy
I humbly profess to be spoilt, pampered brat with old-school upbringing. You could let me loose in a book-store and I'd never come out, except if you lure me out with coffee and Italian food.


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