Eric Cartman will have you know that he is most certainly not fat, he just happens to have bigger bones than most other people. The sociopathic terror of South Park Elementary School is a caricature of the Self-Esteem Movement.
He is lazy, aggressive, entitled, and feels that he is objectively better than others. Murderous tendencies aside, he could easily be any number of children in schools across America. Eric Cartman represents one of the worst-case scenarios when discussing the implications of the Self-Esteem Movement.
Cartman’s inflated sense of self-esteem is largely his mother’s doing. She appears to feel guilty about his absent father, so adopted an incredibly indulgent parenting style, presumably to ‘make up’ for this. She tells him he is special. She assures him that he is big boned instead of overweight. She consistently excuses his behavior to everyone, most importantly to herself. Cartman behaves in any way he chooses because his mother is terrified to correct him, since this might invalidate his feelings of specialness and invite the sort of rage that can only come from questioning the uniqueness of a snowflake.
As a result, he has become nothing short of diabolical.
Ms. Cartman’s indulgence knows no bounds. To prevent Cartman from becoming angry and feeling like he is not the most special entity in the room, she buys him birthday gifts to open at other children’s birthday parties. She ensures that he has anything he wants, which is seemingly every new electronic gadget, all while having the second lowest income at the school, only above that of the McCormick family.
It is commendable that she puts the needs of her child before her own needs, but immediately giving her son anything he desires has very little to do with his needs. Giving a child everything they want as soon as they want it is a key ingredient in the recipe for horrible and demanding children like Eric Cartman.
The question that too often goes unasked is what makes a child like Eric Cartman special? Nothing. Nothing at all.
He is an exaggeration of all of the creatures of the Self-Esteem Movement – shallow, entitled, arrogant, impulsive, and indulgent beings. In order to maintain the illusion of specialness, or at the very least to feel special by comparison, he frequently has to attempt to make others feel less special. He constantly berates Kenny for being poor, Kyle for being Jewish, and Butters for being Butters. Cartman responds violently when his feelings of specialness are challenged in any way, a trait that is becoming increasingly apparent in our own, completely unanimated society.
Cartman is often verbally aggressive and spiteful toward anyone who deals a blow to his self-esteem. When he is publically embarrasses by Scott Tenorman, Cartman requires vengeance. With the detached and methodical precision of a serial killer, Cartman kills Tenorman’s parents, cooks them into a delicious chili, and serves it to him publicly.
Obviously, Eric Cartman’s feelings of specialness are not to be fucked with.
Despite his outward bravado and confidence, he is shown on a number of occasions to be quite fragile and in need of the validation of others to maintain his feelings of self-worth. This is common in people who possess the sort of confidence that is manufactured instead of earned.
Society has led Ms. Cartman to believe that her son deserves feelings of specialness, and she must do any and everything in her power to ensure that he feels special, and has the highest self-esteem her money can buy. She knows that she has completely lost control of her son, but is helpless to change it at this point. Eric is not special, but he knows that he is, and will not be told otherwise.
If this level of negative impact is observable in truly unspecial beings, what happens if the child actually is special in some way?
For the answer to this question and further discussion of self-esteem, tune in next week. Same esteem time, same esteem channel.
To skip the wait and find out sooner, you can pick up a copy of my book The Snowflake Effect.