Season 16, Episode 5

Posted: April 17, 2012 by cliffburtonphil1 in South Park Season 16

previous South Park episode titled “Butterballs” parodied recent anti-school-bullying efforts ( including the movie Bully), and the Kony 2012 video. I was very surprised, Eric Cartman was actually not cast as the main bully or any bully in the plot of this one.  Instead, a new character to the show, Butters’ grandmother, takes up the unlikely mantle of the abuser. I just never would have guessed they would have turned the elementary school bully theme into this exact plot, but it did turn out to be pretty effective. It was also interesting to see that Butters opted out of getting a bigger bully to beat up his bully, so he would not be labeled a “Cliché Conflict Resolution Kevin.” While Butters deals with his bully grandmother, the elementary school becomes involved in an anti-bullying campaign and film, akin to recent documentaries on bullying as well as Jason Russell’s Kony video, films that show youth-led efforts against abuse. The students and organizers inevitably lose sight of their mission in their “Let’s Make Bullying Kill Itself” campaign, led by Stan. Kyle tells Stan “Don’t act for me Stan. Because every minute I’m watching this video become less about awareness and more about you.” This of course is a reference to Russell, who was over-exposed and too central to his own video, an awareness effort on the topic of child soldiers in Africa. We also see verbal harassment happen multiple times in the school bathroom, each time as one character accuses the other of not supporting the anti-bullying campaign enough.  It played with the absurdity aspect, with the same situation happening five times within the twenty-two minute timeframe. While bullying and Kony 2012 are topical subjects, I am a bit surprised they haven’t mentioned the Trayvon Martin shooting so far, it appears to be the biggest national story in these first three months of 2012. And it doesn’t look like they are going to in the next episode, titled “I Should Have Never Gone Zip lining.”  From what they have mentioned about it so far, I wonder how much it will resemble other times when the boys were trapped in the wilderness.  In past installments, they (Matt Stone and Trey Parker) have given anti-environmental messages, such as in “Rainforest Shmainforest” from Season 3, where a school trip in the rainforest in Costa Rica goes awry, and the lumbermen in bulldozers end up saving them from the dangerous animals of the forest.  At the end the white text sarcastically warns that “Each year, the Rainforest is responsible for over three thousand deaths from accidents, attacks, or illnesses….There are over seven hundred things in the Rainforest that cause cancer….Join the fight now and help stop the Rainforest before it’s too late.”  In another, Al Gore is shown to be an attention-seeking imprudent activist, who gets the boys trapped in a cave while searching for “Manbearpig” (a creature that’s half man, half bear, and half pig).

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