It Hits the Fan
|"It Hits the Fan"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||June 20, 2001|
"It Hits the Fan" is the first episode of the fifth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 66th episode of the series overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on June 20, 2001. In the episode, the word "shit" is said uncensored on television on the crime show Cop Drama. After this, everyone starts saying "shit" over and over, which eventually brings over a mysterious plague that unleashes the ancient Knights of Standards and Practices, and only Chef and the boys can save the world.
The episode was written by series co-creator Trey Parker and is rated TV-MA in the United States. Throughout the episode, the profanity "shit" or "shitty" are exclaimed uncensored a total of 162 separate times; in syndicated or re-aired versions of this episode, a counter in the bottom left corner of the screen counts the number of times the word has been uttered. The written occurrences are not counted, but "shit" is written 38 times, which puts the "shit"s up to an even 200. "Shit" is uttered roughly once every eight seconds; one such count includes the episode's theme song in the calculation.
Kyle has tickets to go to The Lion King on Stage, but Cartman tells him that the HBC crime show Cop Drama is going to use the word "shit" uncensored. The broadcast of the show leads to widespread acceptance of the word, even in schools, causing people to use it constantly, in casual and often out of context during conversations. Furthermore, Ms. Choksondik is forced to clarify the acceptable context of the word — as a noun or adjective meaning bad, or as an exclamation of disappointment, the word is acceptable, but as a noun or adjective referring to feces, it is apparently unacceptable—thoroughly confusing the children (this is a reference to the real-life FCC standards of indecency). A strange illness that causes people to spew up their intestines and die suddenly rises in South Park, so action is taken.
The boys ask Chef to take them into the HBC Head Office to sort it out. Research proves that the word is actually a literal "curse(d) word," and its constant utterance has caused a resurgence of the Black Death. A special live event, "Must Shit TV", in which episodes of existing shows are taped live with almost every word of dialogue replaced with the word "shit," goes ahead anyway until the Knights of Standards and Practices enter the studio and begin killing the actors (Drew and Mimi from The Drew Carey Show). In a fit of rage for the Knights trying to stop his TV special, the head of HBC repeats the word "shit" rapidly, causing a demonic dragon to awaken. After the dragon murders several on the set, Kyle destroys it with an ancient magical rune stone belonging to a knight in the mystical Order of Standards and Practices. The moral of the story is not that saying "shit" in itself is wrong but saying it in excess leads to boredom with the word. Cartman tells everyone to watch their language, which Kyle and Stan agree on. The episode ends with Kenny spewing up his intestines and dying; Stan almost says "Holy shit!" once more but replaces it with "poop".
Executives at Comedy Central felt the profanity was justified by context and decided to allow the uncensored episode to be broadcast, which surprised even the show's developers. Despite broadcasting a record-setting amount of profanity, little controversy was stirred by the transmission. Co-creator Matt Stone explained the passive reception by citing changing cultural standards, "No one cares anymore... The standards are almost gone. No one gives a shit or a bullshit." According to DVD commentary, they were only going to say it a few times, which Comedy Central would not allow. However, when Parker and Stone came up with the idea that they would "say it like 200 times, they [Comedy Central] were fine with it."
This episode was selected as #8 on Comedy Central's 2006 marathon of "10 South Parks That Changed the World".
- Rutenberg, Jim (June 25, 2001). " ‘South Park’ Takes Gross to New Frontier." The New York Times, Section C; Column 5; Business/Financial Desk; Pg. 9
- South Park Studios FAQ, June 22, 2001
- TV Guide December 5-12, 2005 pg. 21.
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