The fact that the PBS children’s show Arthur once featured a South Park parody is bizarre enough…the creepy content of said parody, which features a SP-style alien abduction puts it over the top.
Here Arthur is carried off by Communion-style aliens, placed on an examination table/serving dish, and gets his clothes “blasted” off (WTF???). The aliens eventually reject him because he has “too much cholesterol” (to be fair, the aliens had the same problem with me; I think it’s a clause in their insurance coverage).
Immediately thinking this was some sort of urban legend, I had to like double- & triple-check this to make sure it real & not a fan thing. But no: “The Contest” ran during Arthur’s fourth season in 1999, also featuring parodies of Beavis and Butthead and Dr. Katz. For all the kids who were following Dr. Katz on Comedy Central.
Anyway…you want to expose children as early as possible to those nightmare-inducing Whitley Strieber-style Fire In The Sky-esque alien examination tropes—I guess. Never mind that the central premise of the original Strieber account, upon which the South Park episode was based, was that the man was essentially “raped” by aliens. I’m 100% serious here: that entire account is about anal penetration & rape.
Which was why Strieber was so upset and embarrassed by the South Park episode in question in the first place. He writes in the recent book The Super Natural: A New Vision Of The Unexplained:
“Whatever happened to me on the night of December 26, 1985, there was enough physical trauma to send me to the doctor a few days later, who observed that I had been raped. Unfortunately for me, I was so humiliated by this that I described it in Communion—delicately, I thought—as a “rectal probe.” The result was that, instead of being treated with the sensitivity one might think would be due a rape victim, I was made a figure of fun.”
To be clear: I don’t think the producers of Arthur—a show listed as being children ages 4-8—purposely was trying to make light of Strieber’s reported assault. The South Park peeps definitely were, for two reasons: a) the “alien” connection & b) men being raped wasn’t really being taken super-seriously even as relatively recent as the mid-1990s.
That all being said, regardless of the fact Strieber recounted this experience in connection with “aliens”…I feel like *something* happened to him (and note that he himself said “whatever happened to me”) & making fun of him talking about sexual assault (no matter WHAT the origin) probably isn’t very cool or helpful.
Lastly, since we’re on the subject of Arthur—one that I don’t think I will ever really get to again any time soon—I did want to also note that the character is based on a book, Arthur’s Nose, in which the whole point was that he had a large nose & was getting bullied because of it. The current Arthur, of course, hardly has any nose at all. Did Arthur’s nose disappear as the result of the Mandela Effect, is it in the same quantum attic the third “e” in “Berenstein” is?
Anyway: here’s the clip!