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Thursday, April 12, 2012

South Park - Butterballs review

This episode was better in the second half. The point throughout a lot of this episode was that those who are anti-bullying are bullies themselves. We don’t know if that rang true, but there were a few observations in this episode that hit things on the nose. The first half left us puzzled because we couldn’t see what was funny about having Butters’ grandma be the bully. It made us think too much about kids getting abused by older family members, and that just bums us out.

The plot ended strongly with Butters confronting his grandmother with a few perfect words, but the Grandma thing was still the weakest spot of the episode. We like when Butters stands up for himself. He is the best new character this show has ever added. He is both funny and sweet, an uncommon mix in comedy.

The first thing that made sense to us was the slam of the movie Bully. The episode asked the question, “If it is so important that people see it and if the reason you are making the movie to stop bullying, then why don’t you put it online for free?” It’s a good point. Bully’s main goal is to make money, get attention, and get accolades. It’s working on that front. But South Park puts all its episodes online for free because Matt and Trey want people to be able to see them. And South Park doesn’t even claim to be a show that eradicates social evils.

We still want to see Bully, but more for voyeuristic reasons than anything else. When you are anti-something and make a video about it, you need to make sure that you and your video are squeaky clean and that you aren't exploiting anyone (including bullied children) for profit. There is a trend nowadays that revolutionaries and socially conscious people are self-righteous liberals with their heads up their bums. We think it is great that anyone is trying, even if the attempts aren't perfect, but you can't expect South Park to ignore hypocrites or do-gooders. They are prime targets.

The episode also attacked the Kony 2012 campaign. The point there is that the creator of the Kony video, like Stan, made it all about himself and then went crazy. Stan's music video (interspersed with segments of Cartman in drag singing about his vajayjay) was clever and catchy. It was probably the funniest part of the episode. We also liked the original song about jacking off in San Diego.

If The Book of Mormon didn’t prove that the South Park creators have a way with music, then surely the South Park movie and plenty of episodes showcase that talent well enough. Trey Parker has a strong sense of melody. If you are up on the Bully, Jason Russell, and Kony 2012 information/news, this episode will be a treat for you. Otherwise, you will miss the more childish, less preachy, and more Cartman-filled episodes. The moral of this story? Don't do anything good and call yourself a world-rocker unless you are doing it for free and at the expense of no one but yourself.

Episode grade: B

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