Le Petit Tourette
|"Le Petit Tourette"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 11
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||October 3, 2007|
"Le Petit Tourette" (French pronunciation: [lə pə.ti tuʁɛt]; meaning "The Little Tourette") is the eighth episode of the eleventh season of the animated television series South Park, and the 161st episode overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on October 3, 2007. This episode marked the beginning of the second half of the eleventh season. In the episode, Cartman pretends to have Tourette syndrome (TS) so that he can say whatever he wants without getting into trouble. It eventually leads to trouble and he ends up saying things that he would never say. The episode's title is a play on the title of Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Le Petit Soldat.
The episode was written by series co-creator Trey Parker and was rated TV-MA LV in the United States, due to language and violence. It was one of the first episodes of South Park to use any of the L, S or V sub-ratings. Parker and Stone had many discussions with Comedy Central as how to portray the language used in the episode. Eventually, the network allowed them to use nearly all curse words except for "fuck", which remained bleeped. Prior to its premiere, the episode attracted attention from the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA, renamed in 2015 to the Tourette Association of America), who "fully expect[ed] it to be offensive and insensitive to people with TS".
The episode received mixed reviews from television critics, with some praising the episode's humor and others considering its structure disjointed. The TSA conceded that "the episode was surprisingly well-researched. The highly exaggerated emphasis on coprolalia notwithstanding, for the attentive viewer, there was a surprising amount of accurate information conveyed", adding that several elements of the episode "served as a clever device" for providing accurate facts to the public. "Le Petit Tourette" was released on DVD along with the rest of the eleventh season on August 12, 2008.
While shopping in a toy store, Cartman sees a boy named Thomas who continuously shouts obscenities, as his mother tries to explain that he has Tourette syndrome (TS). Cartman decides to pretend he has the disorder as well so he can get away with shouting obscenities himself, and successfully convinces his mother and a doctor, who diagnoses him with TS and notifies the school. When Kyle finds out about Cartman's "disorder", he immediately deduces that he is faking, which Cartman quickly admits to him. Nevertheless, Cartman continues to enjoy his newfound freedom. Kyle decides to complain to Principal Victoria, saying that Cartman is faking, but she misinterprets him as saying that all people with TS are faking. She sends Kyle to the a local support group for children with the disorder, who explain their various tics and how they are not faking it. Kyle at first tries to defend his position, but realizing that Cartman was far too manipulative for anybody else to realize, he gives up and apologizes to the group. He visibly struggles when he has to apologize to Cartman, however, who continues to take advantage of his "disorder" by screaming vulgar anti-Semitic remarks at Kyle's parents.
Cartman decides to appear on Dateline NBC with Chris Hansen, who plans to document the "sad story" of Cartman living with the condition. Cartman plans to say horrible, despicable things on the air and make an anti-Semitic hate speech—all the while being commended for being brave. At a support party the next night, Cartman starts to make a gloating speech but as well as intentional obscenities, he starts spouting out embarrassing true details from his past. To his horror he realizes that after not censoring any thought that came to mind for so long, he is no longer able to do so, and that not being in control is not fun at all. He quickly tries to cancel the Dateline appointment, but Chris Hansen refuses to allow it and tells him that once, when a pedophile tried to get out of appearing on his To Catch a Predator series, they tracked the pedophile down and he shot himself (see Louis Conradt). Hansen continues by hinting that if Cartman refuses to appear, he will be killed, and it will look like a suicide (more specifically, he says that "it would be a real shame if [Cartman] (here Hansen uses finger-quotes) "shot himself". Realizing he has no way to get out of going on the show, and that he still cannot control his self-inflicted TS, Cartman prays to God for a miracle.
Meanwhile, Kyle teams with Thomas, who realizes Cartman is faking it and is worried that Cartman's appearance on the show will make others think TS is "fun" and copy him. The pair aims to foil Cartman's plan which, unknown to Kyle, Cartman has already given up on. Nevertheless, in order to provide a distraction, the two go on the Internet to entice numerous pedophiles to come to the show. When the would-be child molesters come into the studio and see Hansen, they all assume it to be a bust on To Catch a Predator and shoot themselves, sending panic through the studio and forcing everyone to flee. Both Kyle and Cartman go into the front stage to see the pedophiles dead from shooting themselves. As Kyle gloats that he has foiled Cartman's plan, Cartman graciously hugs Kyle, thankful that he doesn't have to humiliate himself on live television.
"Le Petit Tourette" was the mid-season premiere of South Park's eleventh season, and the first episode of their fall run, which consisted of seven episodes. It was not designed as the season premiere, but rather as a "bank" episode, produced mostly prior to the run to allow the team a few days off later on in it.
Parker and Stone felt the episode with typical censorship bleeps would be unfunny, as the entire goal of the episode is that Cartman can say anything he wants without consequence. They had many discussions with Comedy Central about the show’s content; one suggestion put forward was to air it at midnight, as a special episode. The calls came down to negotiating which curse words they could use and with what frequency; despite this, "fuck" would still remained bleeped in the final episode. Stone remarked that had it not been censored, it would have made advertisers unhappy. Parker noted that occasionally, when producing episodes such as this, Comedy Central would view early animatics and get nervous about the content. Executive producer Anne Garefino advised executives to wait and see its fully animated form, after which they easily approve it, due to the simplistic animation style. "As soon as you see it done by shitty cutouts, it makes it all just silly", Parker said.
The episode also features a parody of Chris Hansen, the host of To Catch a Predator. Shortly before the episode was produced, a man featured on the program committed suicide by gunshot, leading to a press frenzy. Parker and Stone noted that while they liked the program, they felt with its growing popularity the show's creators were increasingly overstepping their boundaries to catch predators. "We like To Catch a Predator, [but] we like the Constitution more", Stone said.
Tourette Syndrome Association
Prior to the airing, the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) issued a press release saying they had requested that Comedy Central air their public service announcements during or after the show and that they "fully expect[ed] it to be offensive and insensitive to people with TS". The President of the TSA said, "we are actually surprised it took the creators so long to use TS as comedy fodder in this program, since no disability, illness or controversial topic is off limits to them." Following the episode, they issued a second press release, expressing concern that the episode perpetuated the misconception that most people with TS have coprolalia (involuntary swearing) when in fact 85–90% of people with TS do not. They conceded that "the episode was surprisingly well-researched. The highly exaggerated emphasis on coprolalia notwithstanding, for the attentive viewer, there was a surprising amount of accurate information conveyed", adding that several elements of the episode "served as a clever device" for providing accurate facts to the public.
The television weblog TV Squad was extremely positive, calling the episode "the stuff of brilliance". IGN gave the episode a rating of 7.5/10, asserting "this isn't the greatest episode, and not the greatest way to bring back the series—but it's got some great laughs and manages to push its single joke further than expected." 411mania took the middle ground, giving the show a 6.5/10 rating, calling it "hit and miss", and contesting that "while the first half of the show suffered because of a one-note joke, the second half showed why this series continues to remain one of the best on television." On the negative side, BuddyTV called the episode a "misfire", criticizing it as "disjointed and a little off-putting."
- "Episode guide". South Park Studios. 2007-10-03.
- TSA Voices Concern Over "South Park" October 3rd Episode. Tourette Syndrome Association (2007-10-02). Retrieved on 2007-10-03.
- TSA responds to "South Park" Episode. Tourette Syndrome Association (2007-10-04). Retrieved on 2007-10-04.
- Parker, Trey (August 2008). South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season: "Le Petit Tourette" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- Stone, Matt (August 2008). South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season: "Le Petit Tourette" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- "More Criticism For "To Catch A Predator"". CBS News.
- "South Park: Le Petit Tourette - TV Squad". TvSquad. 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "IGN: Le Petit Tourette Review". IGN Entertainment, Inc. 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "Le Petit Tourette 411mania review". 411mania. 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "South Park : Cartman, Tourette's, and Chris Hanson". BuddyTv. 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- "Comedy Central TV Show Schedule". Comedy Central. 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2007-10-06.