Douche and Turd
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (July 2016)|
|"Douche and Turd"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||October 27, 2004|
"Douche and Turd" is the eighth episode of the eighth season of the animated television series South Park, and the 119th episode overall. Written by series co-creator Trey Parker, it first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on October 27, 2004, just before the 2004 presidential election. In the episode, PETA forces South Park Elementary to change their school mascot, so an election is held to determine a new mascot. Stan ends up getting exiled from South Park after refusing to vote.
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During a pep rally at South Park Elementary, a group of local PETA eco-terrorists protest the use of a cow as the school's mascot. The school agrees to pick a new mascot, and the students are told to vote for said new mascot. Embarrassed by the bland choices, the kids decide to fill in a joke candidate but disagree as to whether it should be a "giant douche" or a "turd sandwich". Kyle rallies his friends to fill in the giant douche, and Cartman gathers support for the turd sandwich. The result is that the two joke candidates get the most votes and the students must choose between the two in an election.
Stan does not see the point in voting between a giant douche and a turd sandwich as they are exactly the same in his opinion, and declares that he will not vote at all, much to everyone's dismay. Stan is equally dismayed, wondering why anyone would care about such a pointless exercise. He talks about it with his parents at dinner, but his parents are not impressed with his apathy and even get into a fight over who should win when Stan explains who the two competitors are. This results in Kyle calling on Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, who intimidates Stan with a literal Vote or Die campaign. Meanwhile, the campaign continues, with the turd sandwich supporters rallying against the giant douche supporters, using bribes and fear mongering to gain support.
By the time of the election, Stan agrees to vote after being chased by Combs and his associates through the streets with guns. However, he realizes Kyle only wanted him to vote in order for giant douche to win when he votes turd sandwich and Kyle demands that he change his vote. Disgusted with this electoral process, Stan once again refuses to vote. The school administration decides that Stan must be banished from the town for all eternity or until he decides that voting is important. He is spat on by the townspeople and his shirt is ripped off piece by piece before being placed on a horse, bound with a bucket over his head, and send him off into the woods with Butters's dad blowing a horn to signal the horse to escort Stan.
Stan's horse randomly takes him to a PETA compound where he finds that PETA's members live with animals, practicing zoophilia and even interbreeding with them. Stan explains his trouble to a member of PETA who tells him that an election "is always between a douche and a turd", because they are the only people who suck up enough to make it that far in politics. Combs shows up at the camp to kill Stan, but is distracted by a PETA member who throws a bucket of red paint on his fur coat. Combs and his posse retaliate by slaughtering all the PETA members. The animals flee as they are not interested in the fate of the PETA members, and Stan manages to escape, but is shot in the arm.
Returning to South Park, Stan is finally convinced to vote and chooses turd sandwich. Despite his vote, the giant douche still wins the vote 1410 to 36. Stan initially points out that his vote did not matter, but his parents inform their son that all votes matter even if it is for the losing side. Suddenly, Mr. Garrison runs in with the news that the PETA members have been discovered murdered. As a result, the cow is reinstated as South Park Elementary School's mascot. Randy tells Stan that now his vote did not matter, leaving a dismayed expression on Stan as he went through so much for nothing.
According to Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine, this episode "pretty much sums up how most libertarians approach politics." Douche and Turd are used again in the season 20 episode "Member Berries" and subsequent episodes of the season, in which they refer to Donald Trump (represented by Mr. Garrison) and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
The episode has been used to demonstrate the near-zero value of an individual vote, the intrinsic value individuals place on the act of voting itself, problems arising when voters must choose amongst undesirable candidates rather than issues, and the role of political campaigning.
- Harkinson, Josh. The Apostles of Ron Paul, Mother Jones (January/February 2008)
- Hoffer, Adam J. and Crowley, George R., Did You Say that Voting is Ridiculous?: Using South Park to Teach Public Choice (June 26, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2285834 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2285834