Butterballs (South Park)
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 16
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||April 11, 2012|
"Butterballs" is the fifth episode of the sixteenth season of the American animated sitcom South Park, and the 228th episode of the series overall. It aired on Comedy Central in the United States on April 11, 2012.
In the episode, an anti-bullying speaker visits South Park Elementary, after which Stan raises awareness about the dangers of bullying by shooting a big dance video, while Butters falls victim to an unlikely bully. The episode satirizes Kony 2012 director Jason Russell, and the 2011 film Bully, as well as the anti-bullying movement.
When Butters's schoolmates see him with a black eye, they learn that it was the work of a bully who stole his lunch money, for now the third day in a row. Stan and Kyle urge Butters to talk to his family, including his grandmother, whom they mention is visiting him this week. However, his grandmother turns out to be the one who secretly bullies him. Eventually, someone secretly contacts Bucky Bailey, an anti-bullying counselor from Bully Buckers™, to come to the school. Bailey proceeds to excoriate, or "bully" Mr. Mackey into calling for an assembly, at which he proposes that the students make an anti-bullying video. When no one volunteers to be the leader of the campaign and direct the video, he taunts the assembled students.
Stan volunteers, saying that bullying is a problem that needs to be addressed. Stan produces a music video featuring Cartman dressed in drag and Butters himself paraded in front of everyone in the nude. When Butters expresses reluctance to continue, saying that this will only make things worse, Stan fails to take his viewpoint seriously. As a result, Kyle walks off the project, saying that Stan has made himself the focus of the video, and cautions him not to end up "naked and jacking it in San Diego", a comment that leaves Stan puzzled.
Stan informs Butters that a Hollywood studio wants to buy the video. Though Stan is cheered by his schoolmates, Bailey corners Stan in the school boys' room, bullying him because Stan sold the movie without consulting him, as revenue from the video, which was Bailey's idea, could have brought national exposure to Bully Buckers™. Bailey taunts Stan, bringing him to tears. Later, Mick Jabs, the president of the studio that purchased the video, corners Bailey in the school boys' room, and presents a cease and desist order from his lawyers, bullying Bailey to tears.
Stan and Butters go on The Dr. Oz Show to promote the movie, but as Dr. Oz continuously bullies Butters to get him to reveal specifics, Butters finally snaps and attacks Oz. After Jabs excoriates Stan because the film's subject will be viewed not as a sympathetic figure, but as a violent psychopath, Jabs himself is cornered in a restroom by Jesus, who threatens him with Hell for his behavior.
Later that night, Butters goes to his grandmother's room as she lies in bed, telling her that he finally stood up for himself. While he admits that it felt good, it ultimately left with him a dark and empty feeling, just as he imagines she feels. He then tells her that he has realized that bullies will always exist, and while such stages in life seem as if they will last forever to children, one day he will grow into a happy adult, and as she lies dying in a hospital, he will visit her to show her that he is still alive and happy, while she will die the same empty, sad person she's always been. The next day, after being pilloried by his fellow students at school for the video being dropped by Jabs' studio, as well as for a lawsuit that Dr. Oz has filed against South Park Elementary, Stan resolves to go to San Diego. The episode goes out on a musical number wherein Stan flies to the city, does some sightseeing, and then strips off his clothes (excluding his hat) in public and dances in the nude on a street corner, à la Jason Russell.
Max Nicholson of IGN gave the episode a 7.5 "Good" rating, lauding the reveal of Butters's grandmother as the bully, and finding her verbal abuse of Butters to be "priceless". Though the bathroom gag was more disappointing than Nicholson thought it would be, Nicholson felt that the scenes with Butters and his grandmother tied the episode together, in particular his final "moment of clarity" speech. Nicholson also enjoyed Stan's nude dance in San Diego, not knowing it was a reference to the Jason Russell scandal. Nicholson was less impressed by the students' music video, as he did not initially know that it was a nod to an anti-bullying music video made at Cypress Ranch High School, which he thought was too obscure a reference, marring the episode somewhat.
Carl Cortez of Assignment X gave the episode a B+, calling their take on school bullying "hilarious", and saying of the interaction between Butters and his grandmother, "It’s brilliant and funny and wrong, but the best South Park's always are."
- "Episode 1605 Butterballs Press Release". South Park Studios. April 8, 2012
- Kleinman, Jacob (April 12, 2012). "South Park Episode 'Butterballs' Spoofs ‘Kony 2012,' Jason Russell and 'Bully'". International Business Times.
- Nicholson, Max (April 12, 2012). "South Park: 'Butterballs' Review". IGN.
- Cortez, Carl (April 12, 2012). "TV Review: SOUTH PARK – Season 16 – 'Butterballs'". Assignment X
- Butterballs at South Park Studios.
- "Cypress Ranch High School Anti-Bullying Lip Dub "Who Do U Think U R?". YouTube. March 29, 2012