South Park Rails Against BMI and Government Involvement in Silly Weight-Based Matters

I love South Park. I always have. I’ve written a book on South Park called The Zen of South Park, and I’ve written multiple blog posts and papers on South Park, including one on South Park’s treatment of “fat,” which I delivered at 2010’s Popular Culture of America conference.

But last night, South Park outdid themselves in an episode called TMI.

For those of you who might be squeamish or know that South Park regularly offends you, I encourage you to stop reading, or at least say beep! wherever you see language that offends you.

Weight Measurements in School! Might as Well Measure Penis Size!


In this episode, the school posts the fourth grade boys’ growth chart, which angers Eric Cartman, a fat child (you’ll see why that’s relevant shortly) because he believes that they have posted the length of all the boys penises – and his is the smallest.

When the boys decide to remeasure and post their real penis lengths – not the school’s botched measurements – Cartman learns that the numbers represented the boys’ height differential from the previous year, not their penis lengths. Due to his anger management problem and inability to think when he’s mad, Cartman is sent to therapy. To test what sets him off, the doctor immediately starts calling him fat and making fun of his size and weight – in case we weren’t already aware of what this was about.

In the meantime, made aware of this public penis measuring, Randy Marsh, a local father, goes to school to explain to the children how a penis should really be measured, presenting them with a complicated formula detailing a variety of related penile measurements. It’s convoluted and ridiculous and reminds one of how BMI is calculated.

When the Surgeon General presents her own way of measuring penis size – seemingly just as silly – making Randy’s penis seem smaller, Randy is outraged. He, in turn, is sentenced to anger management, where Cartman’s therapist starts to recognize the relationship between penis size and anger issues. That is, people emphasize penis size and that makes people with small penises angry.

A Tea Party-like group rises out of these angry people who hate the government’s inadequate understanding of penis size, making numerous and outrageous demands. In response the Surgeon General declares TMI flawless science that cannot be changed yet lowers the length a penis needs to be to make it above average.

What the Penis Size!?

You may have read that and thought to yourself, what the hell is Jay talking about? Why does he keep talking about angry people and their penises? You might be thinking that even if you are familiar with BMI and the government’s ridiculous means of measuring people’s weights, its involvement in school weight-based programs, and the unjust discrimination fat people face every day for being different under an arbitrary standard – and even if you get really angry about these things.

For however muddled this episode was and however haphazardly I summarized it, South Park just laid down a scathing indictment of the ridiculousness of Body Mass Index, or BMI, the government’s absurdity at propagating and changing elements of BMI to suit its own agenda, and the inanity of government-based programs that isolates fat children and sanction discrimination against them.

I always knew that South Park had a knack like no other satire for seeing through bull crap, but I always worried that when it really counted – like the ability to see that our weight-based obsessions were ridiculous and had gone way too far – South Park would let me down.

But they didn’t.

They saw this nonsense for what it is – bologna . . . bologna that our government wants to ban from school lunches and prevent fat people from eating so that we can all be so pretty again! No wait, that’s b.s., too.

I encourage everyone to seek out this episode on Comedy Central and use it as a means of reaching friends and family with whom you’ve argued about your own ability to be happy and fat and left alone just the way you are. And, of course, the silliness of the BMI scale.

Did you see the episode? What did you think? Want to learn more about unjust weight-based discrimination? Then check out, More of Me to Love.

Kyle Swims Through a Water Park of “Pee” in the South Park Season 13 Finale

This was the last episode of the 13th season of South Park. That makes me sad. Wednesday nights will be forever emptier because of this. Well, not forever more. They’ll be better again in a few months when South Park is back.

In this episode, the boys go to the local water park, Pi Pi’s, where Kyle opts to stay out of the water indefinitely due to its incredibly high concentration of urine. Cartman, however, is disappointed for other reasons: the water park is filled with minorities.

Black people.

Mexicans.

Chinese.

He thinks he even saw some Native Americans.

This, of course, is less stated than it is sung in a beautiful song. Trey Parker is quite the composer – always has been. Indeed, Cartman predicts that the Mayans got the year of the Apocalypse wrong and that rather then 2012, it’s actually happening in 2009, since the water park has been taken over by minorities and Cartman is the “last of his kind.”

When warned that the pee content of his water park is so high that the park is on the verge of disaster, Pi Pi does nothing – to the detriment of human kind . . . well, human kind currently in attendance at his water park. With the urination of one final little girl, the water becomes 100% pee and disaster ensues. Everything goes to hell – in Cartman’s eyes, the Mayan Apocalypse.

In order to drain the pee from the park, Kyle has to hold his breath and swim through it down to an underwater release valve, but in order to do that he must first drink pee in order to avoid the bends. Since pee grosses him out so much, this is obviously a monumental task. It’s pretty hilarious listening to the other boys be honest about all the things they do related to pee that Kyle considers unacceptable:

– pee in the shower

– pee in the pool

– not wash their hands after peeing

Gross!! I’d never not wash my hands after peeing. Yeah . . . never . . .

Obviously the moment Kyle drank the pee they were all rescued, since is was discovered that the antidote to anger caused by the overexposure to pee is bananas. And yes, the part where the monkeys got angry while getting urinated on was hilarious and disgusting.

Funny enough, I loved that Kyle hated bananas so much and had to eat one after drinking the pee. Why? My wife loves most foods but HATES bananas. She finds them revolting, particularly the smell. Sometimes to be cruel when we’re at the grocery store I’ll hold a bunch of bananas behind her head and then say her name so that she turns around and finds them there. She hates that. I’m very mature.

This wasn’t a killer episode like a few of the other poignant ones this season, but it was amusing, particularly the unbearably racist sentiments that got called out and exposed for being illogical: minorities are beginning to make up the majority. Get used to it. It’s okay and that’s where things were going. We’re all immigrants – thanks White Stripes.

An interesting aside: there was a commercial for Avatar during South Park, which is interesting because last week’s episode made fun of Avatar and showed South Park being really angry that the movie was ripping off something else (I asked what that something else was but nobody knew to tell me).

What’d you think of this episode? Did you like it? What did you think about the 13th season? Which episode was your favorite.

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Cartman Becomes the School Announcer and Rips on Wendy (like she’s Obama) in South Park Episode 1313 – and a lot of Smurfs die in an Avatar Satire

The profundity never ends on South Park – god, I f-in’ LOVE it!

The episode began with the brutal murder of the kid who does the school announcements – a murder we all hear happen over the course of five minutes on the announcements (I know that this probably undermines my opening sentence about the profundity of South Park, but I assure you that this is going somewhere). With his death there’s obviously a need to fill the spot of morning announcer, and so auditions are held. Upon beating out Casey Miller, who describes his voice as “audible chocolate,” by telling Mr. Mackey that Casey described his haircut in an unsavory fashion, Cartman becomes the new morning announcer.

On his first day as said announcer, he adds in quite a bit of impromptu commentary about the way that the school has been suffering as a result of the direction taken under its new leader, Wendy Testeberger. From here forward it’s quite clear that everything Cartman is saying about Wendy is meant to echo the way that some people in the news talk about the United States president, Barack Obama.

Essentially, Cartman drones on continuously about Wendy’s horrible policies and how she’s trying to turn the school into a liberal, socialist, left-wing, communist haven that wants to destroy the Smurfs. Upon writing a book and gaining an increasing amount of support, Cartman is told that he can no longer continue with these senseless ramblings or sell his book on school property. He storms out of school but does his morning announcements by video from abroad. Abroad where? The Smurf Village.

Cartman claims to have gone to live with the smurfs, to learn their ways, to pick Smurf berries and to live a Smurf life; Cartman also says that he fell in love with Smurfette. Tragically, he alleges, Wendy Testeberger came and destroyed the Smurf Village. But why, Wendy, why? In order to take all of the Smurf berries which she will use to power the school.

The allegations about Wendy (including the degree to which she’s a heinous slut) have become pretty extreme, and she’s being blamed for everything wrong at South Park Elementary. Since this is supposed to represent the way that people address Obama, I think lines like “maybe you should look into what student council actually does before you listen to an idiot with a microphone” and “just because a guy’s voice is on the intercom and his words are in a book doesn’t mean you should listen to him” are an amazing dig at the idiots out there with a platform to speak and the morons who believe every word they say.

Does that mean I support Obama and disparage his bashers? Hell no! It means that I agree that we all need to get a grip on the things we consider him responsible for and the degree to which his actions are having certain effects versus that which he has specifically put in motion.

Along the lines of Wendy destroying the Smurfs, I imagined at first that the Smurfs represented the “little people” or “small business” (that Obama is supposedly destroying), but as the episode went on it became clear that South Park is really pissed off about Avatar and the idea of somebody infiltrating a group of fakeass blue creatures by pretending to be one, gaining their trust and then going rogue on his own people who are trying to get an important supply of some power source. My question is, what did James Cameron rip off to make Avatar? I have to know! Please help me if you know the answer.

Back in the episode, Wendy agrees to go on Cartman’s show in order to get him to finally shut up (this after Butters urinates on her house in protest of her policies). Most unexpectedly, she admits to the whole destruction of the Smurfs thing, but only in order to take Cartman down with her by saying that his life amongst the Smurfs was meant to infiltrate and destroy them from the inside. Thus, Cartman is made to look like he destroyed the Smurfs. Wendy resigns from her post and hands the student body presidency over to Cartman. Obviously, the job is boring, thankless and sucky, and Cartman runs away crying after everybody hates him.

In a similar fashion, this is saying that those who bash the president and claim to know “what would definitely work” don’t know shit and couldn’t do any better of a job.

The episode also made a nice jab at Glee at the beginning by way of the rehearsals announcement (Glee‘s an awesome show, by the way).

What was your favorite part of the episode? Can you help me figure out the Avatar thing?

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In South Park Episode 1312 the Boys Launch a Campaign to Change the Word “Fag” to Mean a Loud, Douchebag, Harley Rider

By way of having a real meaning I thought this episode was the king of the season so far.

Harley Davidson bikers are driving around South Park trying to be cool and badass. They’re actually just disrupting everyone’s lovely days by making tons of noise and generally being obnoxious. They boys start calling them fags, and when the bikers don’t stop ruining everything the boys shit on their bike seats and spray paint, “Get Out Fags,” all over town.

This, of course, causes grave concern, first amongst the gay people in town (Mr. Slave and Big Gay Al) and then amongst the school administration and the local government. Everyone is shocked that Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman so freely admit that they’re guilty of being abusive towards gays, and this causes the boys to explain their behavior. They say that the loud and obnoxious bikers are fags. Not gay. Gay people are fine. It’s fags (i.e. bikers) that they hate.

It takes everyone a while to understand the differentiation between the words “fag” and “gay” but eventually a dictionary is actually broken open on the show and the evolving definition of the word is explained. Fag has referred to a variety of different hated groups throughout history, only recently gay people, but it’s meaning continues to change as those addressed by the word become irrelevant or no longer hated. That is, as a group, gay people are no longer fags.

In fact, in order to make this entire situation clear and officially make the new meaning of Fag “annoying Harley Davidson bikers,” the boys ask the keepers of the dictionary to make it a permanent definition.

So incensed are Harley Davidson bikers at the idea of being the new fags that they nearly destroy the entire town fighting about it. That, of course, only makes them faggier. By the end of the episode it is clear that those loud bike-riding douches are the world’s biggest FAGS.

I loved that this episode separated the word fag from the word gay. All too often people use gay as a negative adjective, and that’s terrible. Fag, however, is another story. That word is meant to have a negative connotation, and though it’s still a shame to draw that connotation because of its modern relationship to the word fag, it’s great that someone is making an effort to change the word to something new. Leave it to South Park to instigate social change.

Funniest line from the episode: when the boys are asked what someone who is considering getting a Harley and driving it around loudly is called, Cartman replies, “bike-curious.” Say it fast and you’ll get it. Just a nice pun on the use of fag and gay in this episode.

What’d you think of this most recent episode? What was your favorite part.

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Stan Takes over “Whale Wars” and Battles the Japanese in South Park Episode 1311

The Japanese Are Killing Whales!

Where the idea to deal with the issue of whaling came from I’m not sure at all. But hey, it’s South Park. I guess it was the opportunity to paint Captain Paul Watson as a total worthless piece of shit. By the looks of things, he is, but hey, 19 times out of 20 I believe South Park so maybe I’m not the best judge (though I’ve got a feeling…).

So the episode begins with the Japanese massacring whales and dolphins at aquariums all over America, including, I have to mention, the incredible aquarium in my home town, the Georgia Aquarium. And the Japanese killed the Baluga Whales. NOOO! The Japanese hate dolphins so much that they even kill the Miami Dolphins!

Somebody tweeted, “no wildcat offense – damn you Japanese!” That was pretty funny.

What Stan Wants to Do About It

Incensed at the violence against whales, Stan tries to encourage his friends to do something. They’re all playing Rock Band (or Guitar Hero – I can’t tell the difference), and Cartman is singing Poker Face by Lady Gaga. Cartman’s response to Stan’s request is, “I’m not too busy. I just don’t give a shit – AT ALL.”

In order to save the whales from the Japanese, Stan joins the show Whale Wars, a show led by Captain Paul Watson, who South Park makes clear is an enormous and worthless, lying piece of shit. I love it when Matt and Trey go off on somebody through the show and just rip them a new asshole. This episode did an amazing job of that, even showing a real picture of Captain Paul Watson in the process (and a second one with “turd” spraypainted across his face).

Totally annoyed that Paul Watson is a liar with horrible ideas about how to prevent whaling, Stan takes matters into his own hands and blows up the Japanese whaling ship. After the very bloody death of Paul Watson (this episode has an unusually high amount of gratuitous violence, even for South Park), Stan takes over as Captain of Whale Wars, and as his efforts prove increasingly successful and his fame grows, magazines announce many hilarious things, including telling us that Stan “turns vegan pussies into actual pirates.”

On Larry King, Stan realizes that everybody is conflating his success with Whale Wars as being about the show’s rating and not saving the whales. As people say that it’s wrong to skirt the usual process of making a show (i.e. you can’t be a renegade and do things your own way but have to go through producers and scripting and directing, etc.), Stan just goes away to save the whales. I think that was South Park‘s dig at the protective nature of the television industry.

What the Whaling is Really About

After Cartman and Kenny join Stan’s Whale Wars in order to be on his now successful television show, the Japanese start Kamikaze bombing the whales and Stan’s boat. With the Japanese victorious, the boys end up in Japanese prison. Cartman starts playing a harmonica in the fashion of black slave songs and singing about his Japanese-imprisoned balls.

The Japanese president visits the three boys and takes them to Hiroshima and to the museum there. He explains that the Japanese have never recovered from the bombing of Hiroshima. The president then goes on to explain that it was a dolphin and a whale who bombed the Japanese in World War II, something they know because the Americans graciously gave them a picture of the plane that dropped the bomb – it was flown by a whale and a dolphin.

In order to deflect responsibility from the whale and dolphin, Stan provides the Japanese with a new picture that shows a cow and a chicken bombing Japan. As a result, the Japanese then begin viciously murdering cows and chickens.
Stan’s dad says, Good. Now they’re just like us.

Awesome.

Why This is Awesome

The Japanese don’t go whaling to be evil and murder dolphins and whales. They do it because they like to eat them – and they always have. We prefer cows and chickens and treat these animals horribly in order to eat what we like to eat. Though we’re not murdering them in the wild, we’re providing them with excruciating living conditions and a miserable existence.

Why? Because we like to eat them.

The Japanese kills whales in order to eat them, yet we consider whales a special and more sentient creature and get offended at the very idea. It’s our misplaced sense of cultural superiority that tells us that killing the animals we’ve decided to kill and eat is more acceptable than those that another culture prefers.

Some people are so caught up with the idea that we should “save the whales” and that whaling is evil (encapsulated by the show Whale Wars and its captain, Paul Watson), that we rarely stop to be introspective about our own animal-related decisions (and for the record I’m not a vegetarian nor a member of PETA or some other related fanatic). I just think that our sense of priorities can be misplaced. This doesn’t mean I think we should go whaling. I think that we should seek to treat all animals that we choose to eat in an ethical way and make sure that whatever we do to them is sustainable.

Best Episode of the Season

So far, I think this was the best episode of the season (by that I mean this half of the 13th season). It was outrageous, nailed a number of issues, some of which I’d never thoroughly considered (i.e. it made me think), and it brought things to my attention (like Whale Wars) that are totally stupid. At that, it was really funny and quite consistently so, unlike some other episodes whose jokes are farther between due to the need to move the plot and deal with a serious issue.

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Butters is the Greatest Pimp in the Game on South Park Episode 1309, “Butters’ Bottom Bitch”

When the boys harass Butters for not ever having kissed a girl, Butters ponies up the $5 to kiss Sally, a girl who kisses boys behind the trailers. This rise to manhood makes Butters realize that he needs to start making a living. Upon bringing boys to Sally for $5 kisses and getting a cut, Butters’ enterprise only snowballs from there.

Butters becomes South Park’s newest pimp – and he’s damn good at it. He gets more girls to make more money and eventually he’s rakin’ it in. After attending a pimp convention, Butters learns the lingo, getting straight who his hos and bitches are, and always saying, “Do you know what I am saying?”

“Yes, I know what you are saying. You don’t have to keep asking me.”

As his kissing company grows, Butters starts to get adult prostitutes who want a pimp that respects them and doesn’t beat them – and that’s Butters. With so much money coming in he goes to ACORN and even gets low income housing and medicare for his bitches.

At the end of the episode, Butters is inspired by the true love of a pimp and an undercover cop dressed as a prostitute, which makes him get out of the pimpin’ game, realizing that the money women make – whether for kissing or listening to a man’s mother fu#@in problems – is their money.

This episode was hysterical. The plot was hilarious and ridiculous and there were tons of good ol’ South Park lines that just made you laugh. It was great when Stan threatened Butters for harassing Wendy and when Butters offered Clyde $100 to protect him if Stan came over.

Just a great frickin’ episode. What’d you think? What was your favorite line?

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Cartman Hates Redheads but Becomes One Himself and Tries to Kill the Other Kids in “Ginger Kids” South Park Episode 911

This wasn’t an episode that I saw when it initially came out. For some reason, I didn’t catch it or know that it existed until I got the 9th season of South Park on DVD and watched the last disk. Fortunately, it was a hilarious episode.

Cartman gives the class a racist presentation on the danger of Ginger Kids, including a mention about Daywalkers, like Kyle, who can stand the sun enough to be out during the daytime. Kyle is pissed at this hateful tirade and insists on trying to stop Cartman from making hateful speeches. Why? Because other kids, now scared of gingers, are kicking the redheaded kids out of the lunchroom.

In order to convince Cartman that what he’s doing is wrong, Kyle has Cartman’s hair dyed red and gives him freckles while he’s sleeping, making him believe, when he wakes up, that he’s a ginger kid.

Cartman refuses to see the irony behind the fact that he hates gingers and has become one himself, and instead of recognizing the difficulty of being a ginger and reforming his ways, Cartman begins a Ginger Pride club and gathers together all of the Ginger Kids to convince them that they can no longer accept being oppressed by society. “Red Power! Red Power!” they march and chant. Cartman then begins rounding up all of the non-ginger kids in town in order to kill them in a huge ceremony.

At the last minute, before Kyle is killed, Kyle whispers to Cartman what he’s done, and Cartman stops the insane ritual of non-ginger kid killing to tell everybody to wait – that hate and killing are wrong and that they should all love one another. He gets the rest of the Ginger Kids to disregard whatever Kyle whispered to him and then gets them singing a song about loving everybody.

“You’re such a manipulative asshole,” Kyle says.

Hilarious episode. I especially love the manager of the hotel who comes in the banquet room to make sure they have enough dip and lava and Cartman’s polite impatience. The song at the end is great as is the back and forth between Cartman and the gingers.

What did you think about this episode? What was your favorite part?

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