Rainforest Shmainforest

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"Rainforest Shmainforest"
South Park episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 1
Directed by Trey Parker
Written by Trey Parker
Matt Stone
Production code 301
Original air date April 7, 1999
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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South Park (season 3)
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"Rainforest Shmainforest" is the 32nd episode of Comedy Central's animated series South Park. It originally aired on April 7, 1999. This episode features Jennifer Aniston providing the voice for Miss Stevens. The episode criticizes the American Movement to Save the Rain Forest and mocks the country of Costa Rica.

This episode was inspired by Trey Parker's personal intense distaste towards rainforests, which he formed after a visit to Costa Rica. Parker explains on the DVD commentary that, at the suggestion of Flea, Parker and his girlfriend went to Costa Rica and hated the area, and that everything Cartman says about the rainforests during the episode is how he (Parker) personally feels.[1]

Plot[edit]

Miss Stevens (voiced by Jennifer Aniston), the leader of the "Getting Gay With Kids" environmentalist choir tour, visits South Park Elementary, trying to recruit more kids to the group. The boys get themselves into trouble after calling the choir names and belittling their cause. They are sent to the office, where Mr. Mackey punishes the boys by forcing them to join the choir, since he happens to be on the board of directors. Kenny is the only one who is happy about it, since he has developed a crush on a girl in the choir named Kelly.

The episode is filled with famous environmentalist clichés, such as, "We must take only photos and leave only footprints", "It's more afraid of us than we are of it" and "We have to respect mother nature and she will respect us".

The choir goes to San José, Costa Rica to tour, where Miss Stevens tells Cartman that she plans on changing his views on third-world countries. Upon arriving, Cartman immediately starts to make trouble, including yelling at Costa Ricans, directing everyones attention to prostitutes and commenting that San Jose "smells like ass." The children get to meet the Costa Rican President and do a preview dance routine for some citizens of San Jose (with a pre-recorded song for the kids to lip-sync to), but Miss Stevens is dismayed by Kyle's lack of coordination; Cartman offers the opinion that Kyle cannot dance because he is Jewish and "Jewish people don't have any rhythm". Kyle angrily denies this as a stereotype, but Stan wonders if it is true, making Kyle fear that it is.

The children then take a tour to see the 'wonders' of the rainforest. Cartman starts hitting the animals that live in their natural habitats, irritating Miss Stevens. Eventually their tour guide is killed and eaten by a coral snake, leaving Miss Stevens and the children on their own in the jungle. Cartman hits the snake on the head, which caused it to chase him away. They run into a group of guerrilla rebels and try to convince them to help them get back to San Jose, but the leader merely criticizes and insults them. When government troops arrive the choir has to run away. After more time spent wandering lost, Cartman announces that he is leaving the "hippie" group. Only moments later he finds a friendly crew of construction workers tearing down trees and tells them all about the group getting lost, not before asking for food. Meanwhile, Kelly takes Kenny to one side and admits her feelings for him, but tries to stop herself from going too far, which annoys Kenny, as she lives on the other side of the USA and cannot manage a long-distance relationship.

Back in San José, the concert is about an hour away from starting, and the President stalls for time by telling poorly thought out "Polak" jokes. Miss Stevens and the remaining children are captured by a tribe of tiny natives called the Yanagapa (a phonetic parody of the South American indigenous demonym Yanomama) who offer Miss Stevens, now dressed in a Stanford-looking cheerleading outfit, to a giant native. At this point, Miss Stevens changes her mind, and decides the rainforest is not such a good place after all. She screams profanities about everything rainforest-related, much to the shock of the kids (and the natives, too). Just then, Cartman and the construction workers arrive to destroy the village and save the kids. Just as Kelly is making arrangements with Kenny over maintaining a long-distance relationship, he is immediately struck and nearly killed by a bolt of lightning. Afterwards Kyle and Stan say their usual lines, but Kelly asks them who "they" are, since Kenny was killed by lightning, not people. Kyle and Stan are unable to answer her, claiming: "You know, They. They're bastards." Frustrated, Kelly asks them to help Kenny, but the two are fulfilling their usual role on the show, outraging Kelly even more. She then desperately attempts CPR and successfully saves Kenny, to the amazement of Stan and Kyle.

When the group escapes the forest, Miss Stevens and the children are so happy to leave the jungle that they change their tune: Different lyrics are applied to the original song, which now rebukes the rainforest rather than praises it. It meets with a positive response from the audience, as if they were still singing rainforest activism. The episode ends with a message telling people about the dangers of the rainforest and to help stop it.

Controversy[edit]

Despite the episode airing in 1999 in the U.S. and a few years later in Latin America the episode has caused a bit of controversy in February 2007 over the comments that Cartman made about Costa Rica saying that the town "smells like ass" and the way the creators show the country full of "prostitutes, shantytowns, and trash." The Costa Rican Government was reportedly "not amused" with this episode. Many activists have also condemned the episode, saying that it had inspired many people to no longer care about the rain forest because "It's just not worth it." [2]

Cultural references[edit]

The scene where Miss Stevens is offered to a giant native is a parody of King Kong.

Critical reception[edit]

Andy Patrizio of IGN wrote "Rainforest Shmainforest, is one of my favorites [of the third season]...Hearing [guest voice Jennifer Aniston] lose it at the end, with Stan's line "Now she gets it" was just a hoot."[3] DVD Verdict wrote "Rainforest Schmainforest is a hilarious take on Up with People, ecological activists, and foreign cultures".[4]

References[edit]

External links[edit]