Canada on Strike
|"Canada on Strike"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 12
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Featured music||"Dragostea din tei"
by Kool & the Gang
|Original air date||April 2, 2008|
"Canada on Strike" is the fourth episode in the twelfth season of the American animated television series South Park. The 171st episode of the series overall, it first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on April 2, 2008. In the episode, the nation of Canada, feeling disrespected by the rest of the world, goes on a general strike, demanding money, spurring the boys to raise money by creating a viral video.
Written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker, the episode was inspired by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. It features appearances by the creators of a number of famous viral videos.
Mr. Mackey informs the students that it is Canada Appreciation Day. He plays a video in which Stephen Abootman, President of the World Canadian Bureau (initialism: WGA), asks the students to remember all of Canada's contributions to the world. When he asks, "When you think of Canada, what's the one thing that comes to mind?", Cartman responds "Gayness!" Abootman also asks, "What is it that makes Canada so important?" and Craig replies "Nothing!" All the other students laugh and ridicule the Canadians (except for Ike, who is the only South Park Elementary student of Canadian descent).
In Canada, Abootman learns of the world's lackluster response to Canada Appreciation Day, and resolves to have the country go on strike, spurring the Canadians to break out into a choreographed song and dance number. When Abootman and his cohorts announce the strike to an assembly of world leaders, the other countries' delegates are confused as to what exactly Canada wants. Abootman responds "more money", and when asked where this money should come from he exclaims "the Internet makes lots of money. Give us some of that money!"; the other delegates try to explain that they cannot give Canada money, but Abootman is insulted, storms out and shouts that the strike will continue.
Later, Kyle is watching Ike, his adopted brother from Canada, stand outside his house, picketing. Kyle approaches the other boys with worries about his brother, but they are too busy watching Terrance and Phillip to care. After realizing that all the Terrance and Phillip episodes are reruns, they attempt to call Abootman to end the strike, as they refuse to watch horrendous American comedy (represented by a pastiche of Family Guy). While on the phone with him, they agree that Canada deserves more money but they do not have any to give. In a plan to raise money from the Internet, the boys post a video on "YouToob" of Butters singing Samwell's "What What (In the Butt)". It goes viral, but in order to claim their money at the Colorado Department of Internet Money, the boys must wait in line behind other Internet video sensations, such as Laughing Baby, Dramatic Chipmunk, Tay Zonday, Afro Ninja, Tai Shan the Sneezing Panda, Chris Crocker, Tron Guy, the Star Wars Kid, and Numa Numa. In an argument over who is more famous, most of the other Internet celebrities kill each other (the fate of Laughing Baby, Asian Backstreet Boys, and Afro Ninja is never depicted). The boys advance in line, and they receive 10 million "theoretical dollars", which are printed on clear plastic cheques with no monetary value.
Still striking, many Canadians are dying of starvation, and a news report shows that the United States has brought in Danish people to fill their positions. Despite protests from Terrance and Phillip, Abootman vows to continue the strike. When the boys present him their theoretical dollars, Abootman is outraged and refuses to call off the strike until he feels he has won something. Kyle convinces the world leaders to give Canada a consolation prize of bubblegum and Bennigan's coupons. The strike is settled, and the boys go home where Kyle gives an extremely verbose speech about the current feasibility of generating revenue on the Internet.
Abootman throws a party to celebrate the end of the strike and treats it as a great victory for Canada, but Terrance and Phillip reveal to the Canadian public that the gumballs and coupons are worth roughly $3,008, whereas Canada lost $10.4 million by not working during the strike. As punishment, Abootman and his men are banished by being set adrift on a block of ice.
The episode was a criticism of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. TV Squad's Brad Trechak noted that "Trey Parker and Matt Stone are not members of any of the unions, and they negotiated Internet profit-sharing before it became an issue for the WGA. They have also remained consistent with their dislike of the Hollywood creative elite (including actors and writers, although they are both) and their willingness to take a different viewpoint than the popular media." IGN's Travis Fickett stated that "It was probably inevitable that South Park would comment on the writers' strike in some fashion, and here they do – by way of Canada." The A.V. Club's Josh Modell suggested that "it's clear that Parker and Stone feel that the writers completely screwed themselves in the long run, but that subplot is almost beside the point."
In the DVD commentary the creators claim the episode is a "docudrama" instead of a parody of the strike. The strike took place during the making of "The List" during which the creators lamented that they had to work instead of joining with the strike.
Josh Modell of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A grade, saying that it "was a great episode because the jokes came quick and funny, not because there was some huge point to be made". A notable part of the episode for him was the viral video, "What What (In The Butt)".
Travis Fickett of IGN gave the episode a rating of 7.6. He noted that though it was an "issue" episode, it was still humorous, unlike other such episodes like "Britney's New Look". Overall, while it wasn't a bad episode "the show muddles the argument it's trying to make by letting the parallels to Canada get off track."
Brad Trechak of TV Squad noted especially "the battle royal [sic] scene with all the YouTube people" and the "scintillating conversation" of the Canadians at the episode end. Trechak was "happy to see South Park get back on track to the focus and humor from the previous seasons."
In November 2010, Comedy Central and Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, were sued for copyright infringement for their recreation of the viral video, What What (In the Butt). The case was dismissed with prejudice before discovery. Brownmark Films appealed in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of Comedy Central in June 2012, holding that the parody was protected under fair use laws, and noting that, as demonstrated in the episode, Brownmark's loss of revenue could only be measured in the sense of "Internet dollars" and of no measurable commercial value; if anything, South Park's lampooning of What What (In the Butt) "would only increase [the original video's] ad revenue" on YouTube.
"Canada on Strike", along with the thirteen other episodes from South Park's twelfth season, were released on a three-disc DVD set and two-disc Blu-ray set in the United States on March 10, 2009. The sets included brief audio commentaries by Parker and Stone for each episode, a collection of deleted scenes, and two special mini-features, The Making of Major Boobage and Six Days to South Park.
- "Episode 1204 Press Release". South Park Studios. 2008. Archived from the original on April 3, 2008. Retrieved March 31, 2008.
- "South Park: Canada on Strike". IGN. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
- "FAQ". South Park Studios. Accessed on Dec 3, 2008.
- "FAQ". South Park Studios. January 21, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2009.
- Trechak, Brad (April 2, 2008). "South Park: Canada On Strike!". TV Squad. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
- Modell, Josh (April 3, 2008). "South Park: "Canada On Strike"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
- Parker, Trey (November 2008). South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season: "Canada on Strike" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- Bentley, Jean (November 15, 2010). "'South Park' Sued Over Two-Year-Old 'What What' Parody". AOL TV. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
- J.P. STADTMUELLER, District Judge (July 6, 2011). "Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners, Dist. Court, ED". Google Scholar. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
- "Brownmark Films LLC v. Comedy Partners". Findlaw. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- Chiger, Kristen, South Park & the Law (September 19, 2012). University of Texas Review of Entertainment & Sports Law, Vol. 14, Fall 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2149334
- Liebman, Martin (February 26, 2009). "South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved January 25, 2017.