Cartman’s Most Crushing Defeat on ‘South Park’ Was A Win for Breast Cancer Awareness

When Wendy beat up Cartman in ‘Breast Cancer Show Ever,’ she conquered cancer itself
Cartman’s Most Crushing Defeat on ‘South Park’ Was A Win for Breast Cancer Awareness

Cartman talks more trash than any other character on South Park, but every now and then, someone has an answer to the question, “Wassup?”

When Trey Parker and Matt Stone first crafted the characters that would carry their hit series South Park for 26 seasons and counting, they described the huskiest among the four main friends as “a little Archie Bunker.” Much like the All in the Family patriarch, Eric Cartman is an outlet for all the most narrow-minded, bigoted and selfish sentiments that Parker and Stone want to satirize in their animated masterpiece — even though, as was the case when All in the Family was on the air, many fans who share Cartman’s beliefs often don’t realize that they’re the ones being mocked. As the personification of every unique problem with American pop culture, Cartman’s success or failure in his many outrageous schemes, plots and scams reflects the outlook South Park writers have on the issues they tackle.

Over the last quarter century, Cartman’s experiences many undeserved victories and warranted defeats, but one such loss stands out among the field as the single most degrading, despite being much smaller-scale than, for instance, the climactic battle between his lackey Cthulhu and the intergalactic superhero Mintberry Crunch. In the South Park subreddit, fans decently discussed which of Cartman’s humiliating losses is their favorite, and the winner was the beatdown Wendy Testaburger gave Cartman in the Season 12 episode “Breast Cancer Show Ever.” He’s lucky she didn’t need to use her “killer titties” to close it out.

As is the case in most South Park episodes, “Breast Cancer Show Ever” begins with Cartman taking a flippant, contrarian stance on a serious issue that upsets the people around him. When Wendy tries to deliver a presentation to the class about the dangers of breast cancer, Cartman heckles her to the delight of many male classmates. Frustrated with Cartman’s continued misbehavior without comeuppance, Wendy exclaims, “Every week he gets worse and nobody does anything!” before challenging Cartman to a fist fight after school.

The episode plot line is loosely based on the 1987 teen comedy movie Three O'Clock High about another pathetic student’s attempts to weasel his way out of a fight. In the South Park version, Butters tells Cartman that, if he goes through with the fight and loses, “Everyone will think you’re a (slur for a motorcyclist),” prompting him to try to find a way out of the clash. Cartman gets himself detention by crapping on Mr. Mackey’s class, he tattles on Wendy to her parents and he even degrades himself while begging her to call the confrontation off, eating his own underwear before later puking it up in front of a non-interventional Stan.

When Cartman’s scheming seems to succeed in dissuading Wendy from the showdown, breast cancer survivor Principal Victoria delivers Wendy a stirring speech about the importance of fighting cancer as hard as you can and never letting the “fat little lump” get the best of you. Wendy resumes her righteous rage and kicks Cartman’s ass in front of the whole school, who admit to Cartman that a girl kicking his ass couldn’t make them lose respect for him — because they never had any in the first place.

In the end, Wendy beating Cartman does sort of work as a stirring allegory for any woman’s fight against breast cancer – just as Principal Victoria had hoped it would. It all goes to show that, when Cartman loses, humanity wins.


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