In the episodes “Do the Handicapped go to Hell?” and “Probably,” the boys of South Park turn to the religious leaders of the town for answers to their questions about heaven. Specifically, the boys want to know how their crippled and mentally-disabled friend Timmy can enter into Christian Heaven if he cannot coherently accept Christ. To contextualize the character in question, Timmy can only utter variations of his name “Timmy!” to express excitement or dissatisfaction. To summarize the end of the first episode, the students come to find that they can’t trust the town priest for advice since he is guilty of performing sex acts in the church confessional.
Disillusioned by the actions of the priest, the kids form their own Evangelical church with Cartman serving as the charismatic reverend who performs miracles and delivers the message of God. In the end, Kyle and Stan discover that Cartman’s actions have been a rouse. His intention was to manipulate the faith and bank accounts of the pious to earn “10 million dollars.”
These episodes can be viewed as a rhetorical attempt to return the attention of the audience to a discourse that both disconcerting and problematizing to the distribution of power and access. Turning to Foucault, the cynical and non-traditional satire executed in these episodes ultimately suggest that prohibition surrounding discourses “soon reveal its link with desire and with power” (1461). Both the actions of the priest and Cartman support such an analysis as they convey that “discourse in not simply that which manifests (or hides) desire ----- it is also the object of desire” The rhetorical use of cynicism in these episodes teach us that “discourse is not simply that which translates struggles or systems of domination, but is the thing for which and by which there is struggle “(Foucault 1461.) Consequently the totality of the rhetoric of cynicism in “Do the Handi-Capped go to Hell?” and “Probably,” makes accessible to the general audience the theory that “discourse is the power which is to be seized” (Foucault 1461). The episodes portray that the movement and seizure of discourse can be appropriated in ways that restrict access and maintain control over both the material conditions and ideological mechanisms which establish power and hierarchy. Through the manipulative actions of the town’s priest and Cartman, viewers are forced to consider the power of discourse and the role of authority in the production of belief and presumed truth.