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South Park RPG's Mysterious Fifth Class Is 'Jew'

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Posted December 14, 2011 - By Adam Rosenberg


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South Park RPG's Mysterious Fifth Class Is 'Jew'

Oy.

The South Park RPG's mysterious fifth class is "Jew." We learned earlier this month that Obisidan Entertainment is working with series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone on the game, which follows a new kid who moves into the quiet mountain town. The story opens with all of the local youngsters wrapped up in a town-wide LARP. Eric Cartman is there to guide you through the character creation process, offering up Wizard, Paladin, Adventurer, Rogue and this mysterious (until now) fifth class of his own design.

The confirmation comes from lead designer Matt MacLean in a Game Informer video interview. He describes the class as a "Paladin/Monk type character" designed for "high-risk/high-reward" gameplay. "The closer he is to death, the more powerful his abilities become," MacLean said. "So you're strongest when you are at one hit point, but you're also just about to die.”

I read this news last night and I'm still having a hard time processing it. It's perfectly suitable within the boundaries of the established fiction. Hell, it's downright clever. I can't say that I felt or feel offended (me = Jew, in case the Rosenberg didn't give it away), but something didn't sit right about this.

Then it hit me. I'm worried about the community. About opening up a GameFAQs message board and seeing a subject line that reads "I hate the *#&%ing Jews!" Is it any different from the hateful talk you hear in a public multiplayer setting? No, not really. It doesn't sit right though.

When South Park makes fun of Jews on TV, it's funny because it's actually poking fun at the sort of bigot that spouts those hateful comments. Similarly, it's funny when South Park makes fun of religion, because it's actually poking fun at the way the modern world is often at odds with the dated practices of various religions. 

I'm trying to reconcile what's funny about this though. Under this game's definition, "Jew" defines a particular set of skills and traits. Those skills may or may not fit with existing stereotypes, but the very idea of "Jew" -- or "Mormon" or "black" or any of the series' other frequent targets -- being used as that kind of descriptor feels wrong to me on a very instinctive level. South Park is no stranger to courting controversy, but almost always from the perspective of social/cultural/political satire. And I'm just not feeling that here.

I'm still going to play the game. I'll probably even play AS this Jew class. But I'd like to hear more from Obsidian and Parker/Stone about the reasoning behind this choice, certainly more than the perfunctory description offered in the source video.

South Park RPG's Mysterious Fifth Class Is 'Jew'
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