Kyle Broflovski faces some difficult existential questions in South Park S3E11. (CBS Television Distribution)
As individuals, we have all faced some difficulty in trying to fit into collectives. We want to. We want our own unique identities. But we also don’t want to feel alienated and be ostracised: we want to feel something others share—be known, respected, or validated by others. Let us now look to South Park episode ‘Chinpokomon’ (S3E11), which brilliantly exemplifies this dilemma we all face.
Kyle Broflovski (pictured) is preparing to fly to Pearl Harbour and attack it along with the other people of South Park who have been brainwashed by the Japanese government through the consumption of Chinpokomon merchandise. Stan, Kyle’s best friend, is trying to stop Kyle: he and everyone else have grown to realise that attacking Pearl Harbour is a stupid idea; that Chinpokomon was just a fad.
Stan: 'No, Kyle. You see, we learned something today. This whole Chinpokomon thing happened because we all followed the group. We only liked Chinpokomon because everyone else did. And look at the damage it caused.'
Kyle: 'So now I should stop liking Chinpokomon because you all don't?'
Stan: '. . .Ye-eah.'
Kyle: 'But if I stop now, I'll just be going with the group again. So, to be an individual, I have to bomb Pearl Harbor. See ya.'
Stan: 'Oh. . . Wait. Actually, I was wrong. You see, Kyle, I learned something, just now. It is good to go with the group. A group mentality is healthy, sometimes.'
Kyle: 'Aw, screw it; I'm too confused.'
Us too, Kyle.