Scott Tenorman Must Die
|"Scott Tenorman Must Die"|
|South Park episode|
|Directed by||Eric Stough|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Editing by||Keef Bartkus|
|Original air date||July 11, 2001|
Radiohead as themselves
"Scott Tenorman Must Die" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 69th episode of the series overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on July 11, 2001. In the episode, 9th-grader Scott Tenorman makes Cartman believe that buying pubic hair from him will make Cartman reach puberty. Realizing that he had been tricked, an angry Cartman arranges for Scott's parents to be murdered and feeds them to him.
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone point to this episode as a milestone in the series. The episode introduced significant changes in the characterisation of Cartman (like setting the standard for his cynical antics in following seasons), and it also prompted the creators to only focus on one plot within an episode, as opposed to the show's earlier episodes, which involved several loosely related subplots. "Scott Tenorman Must Die" was written by Parker, and directed by animation director Eric Stough.
English rock band Radiohead guest star in the episode as themselves. Parker and Stone listed the episode as one of their favorites on multiple occasions, and it is considered by fans and critics to be one of the best episodes of the entire series.
Cartman excitedly boasts to Stan, Kenny and Kyle that he is the first to reach puberty, since he has gotten his first pubic hairs. However, not knowing that "getting pubes" means you have to grow them yourself, he only has pubic hair because he bought a handful of it from 9th-grader Scott Tenorman for $10. Outraged at having been conned, Cartman desperately tries various methods to get his money back, but is constantly outwitted by Scott. He even loses an additional $6.12 in the process. After Scott makes Cartman beg for the money and sing that he is a "little piggy", Scott burns the money in front of him, after which Cartman starts to plot revenge. He attempts to train a pony to bite off Scott's penis, but Jimbo later tells him that the best way to humiliate Scott is to find his weaknesses.
After learning that Scott's favorite band is Radiohead, Cartman has the town see a video clip of them being interviewed, with the band members' audio poorly dubbed over by Cartman, making them say how much they hate Scott. However, Scott one-ups him by showing a video of Cartman doing his piggy song. Everyone laughs at Cartman's humiliation, including Kenny who dies while laughing (even his spirit floating away is seen laughing). Enraged, Cartman writes a letter to Radiohead to get them to visit South Park, claiming that Scott is a victim of "cancer, in his ass". Cartman tells Stan and Kyle of his plan to get Scott's penis bitten off at a chili cook-off, which Radiohead would arrive at and see him crying, making them think lowly of Scott. Afterward, Stan and Kyle warn Scott. He tells his parents of a starving pony on an abandoned farm, which prompts his parents to go and save it that night. Also, in an attempt to publicly humiliate Cartman again, Scott cooks a chili consisting of the pubic hairs of all the teenagers in South Park.
The next day at the chili cook-off, both Scott and Chef bring chili for the competition, as does Cartman. After they sit down to eat, Scott eats some of Cartman's chili, while Cartman lavishly scarfs down Scott's, much to the silent enjoyment of the onlookers (including Stan and Kyle), who are in on Scott's prank. As Cartman is finishing Scott's chili, Scott prepares to tell him the secret ingredient, but Cartman then reveals that he already knew, and the chili he is eating is not Scott's, as he switched it with Chef's. Cartman tells Scott that he told Stan and Kyle about his plan because he knew they would betray him and warn Scott. Cartman then announces that his actual plan was to get Mr. Denkins, the farmer who owns the pony, to shoot and kill Scott's parents for trespassing (saying that there were "violent pony killers" in the area). While Denkins was busy with the police, Cartman then stole the corpses, chopped them up and placed their body parts into the very chili Scott was eating. Scott then finds his mother's finger in the bowl and immediately vomits and starts crying. Cartman's final stage of his plan occurs when the members of Radiohead come along and – unaware of what just happened to Scott – make fun of Scott for crying. Finally, Cartman begins licking the "tears of unfathomable sadness" from Scott's face, and Stan and Kyle, horrified at the lengths to which Cartman went for revenge, agree to never anger him to the extent Scott did again.
Production and broadcast
According to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, "Scott Tenorman Must Die" represented significant shifts both in the writing of the show, and the characterization of Eric Cartman. Although originally just an annoying, spoiled kid, Cartman got somewhat meaner over the course of the show's previous episodes. However, with "Scott Tenorman Must Die", he became "the most evil kid in the world", and got progressively darker throughout the series' run. The creators debated whether it was okay to have Cartman kill Scott's parents and feed them to him, as it was a "crazy [thing] to do with a kid", and would be setting a new bar for the series and the character. Eventually, after having debated the issue at length, the writers decided to go ahead with the idea. However, they found it very important to make sure that Cartman kills Scott's parents indirectly, without having to "pull the trigger himself".
Parker and Stone had also cited this episode as a milestone in the writing of South Park, as the first episode to only have a single plot, without another subplot (that is, a B story or even a C story) to support the episode. The creators could only come up with the cat and mouse situation between Cartman and Tenorman, which they had described as reminiscent of the relationships in classic cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. The creators feared that not having a subplot would negatively affect the episode, but upon finishing, they realized that a single, strong plot worked well. Since then, most episodes have contained just one plotline, or two strongly related stories.
"Scott Tenorman Must Die" was written by Trey Parker, and directed by South Park animation director Eric Stough. Whereas most episodes of South Park are done within a single week, writing on this episode began in the middle of May 2001, more than a month before the start of the season on June 20, and the episode was assigned a production code number of 501 (meaning the 1st episode of the 5th season). The early start was because the creators sometimes try to have one episode "in the bank" — meaning that they have "at least half-start[ed]" animating it. This way they can take off a few days during the two-month-long, demanding run, and then go back and finish work on the banked show.
The episode's first draft was written during the time when Parker and Stone were still finishing editing the last episode of their 2001 TV show That's My Bush! In its first draft, the episode's title was "Scott Tenorall Must Die", but Parker decided to change the character's name afterwards, as he thought that Tenorman sounded funnier. By the end of May, several drafts of the episode had been completed, and animation production had started. By early June, writing on episode 502 (which became "It Hits the Fan") started, and the creators decided to make that the season premiere. Before the season started, "Scott Tenorman Must Die" was pushed back as the fourth episode of the run.
The episode eventually aired on July 11, 2001 on Comedy Central in the United States, after "It Hits the Fan", "Cripple Fight" and "Super Best Friends". The original broadcast of the show did not have a visible ghost of Kenny, when he laughed himself to death. This was added by the episode's rerun on the following Saturday. Minor modifications like this occasionally happen on South Park, given the rush the creators are in when delivering the show on the day of its broadcast.
The script of the episode reveals some minor differences from the finished episode. After the long "mad scientist" scene of Cartman designing the plans for his revenge, it was supposed to be revealed that whatever he was drawing so intently was "only a stupid crayon drawing of a pony". In the finished episode, Cartman's drawing is not revealed; however, the pony drawing is featured earlier in the episode, during Cartman's briefing to the children. In the scene where Scott Tenorman burns the money in front of Cartman, the script direction said that Cartman should look like William Wallace in the 1995 historical drama film Braveheart, at the moment he realizes that he was betrayed. Within the same scene, it is written that Cartman would fall down on the muddy lawn, and then use the mud to put war paint on his face.
Previous seasons of South Park were animated with the software PowerAnimator. The studio started using Maya from the fifth season on. The pubic hairs in the episode were scanned-in hairs from the back of the neck of Adrien Beard, South Park's lead storyboarder.
The members of the band Radiohead — Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway — provided their voice for their characters. The band was on tour in Santa Barbara, and Matt Stone drove there from Los Angeles to record their lines. While directing singer Thom Yorke, Stone told him to "emote more", as his acting was not exaggerated enough for animation voiceovers. Stone found it ironic to direct Yorke to put more emotion into his delivery, considering that Yorke is "brilliant at emoting perfectly, exactly, in such a complex and beautiful way" when he sings. The episode also features regular voice acting from Parker and Stone for most characters, as well as Eliza Schneider and Mona Marshall for female voices. Scott Tenorman's voice was provided by Toby Morton.
Cultural references and themes
Scott Tenorman's favorite band is the British rock band Radiohead. When Jimbo does not know what "a radiohead" is, Cartman and Ned sing him part of their 1992 song "Creep". In Cartman's dubbed video, the band is interviewed on MTV by long-time MTV host Kurt Loder. Loder had previously been parodied in the fourth season episode "Timmy 2000". During one of his earlier attempts at tricking Scott into giving back his money, Cartman mentions that rock singer Courtney Love is in South Park, drunk and engaging in public nudity. Cartman's inspiration for the idea of having Scott's penis bitten off by a pony is the film Hannibal, in which "the deformed guy trained giant pigs to eat his enemy alive".:50 Hannibal, a sequel to the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs, was released a few months before the episode.
When Cartman walks away from Scott after he tells him about the Pube Fair at Fort Collins, Cartman tells him "Ha ha, charade you are, Scott," referring to Pink Floyd's "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" from Animals.
The very ending of the episode, where the iris appears, is an allusion to the Looney Tunes cartoons, with Cartman assuming the role of the stuttering Porky Pig, delivering his signature line "That's all folks!":733 The use of the Looney Tunes ending has been seen as an ironic reinforcement of the fact that the episode's tragic plot has overstepped the established boundaries of cartoon comedy.:51 It also has been viewed as a reminder about the fact that even the classic cartoons had "a dark side in their own right.":148
The plot of "Scott Tenorman Must Die" has been compared to that of the Shakespeare tragedy Titus Andronicus, in which the humiliated protagonist also exacts revenge by feeding his enemies their own relatives.:148 Some authors viewed the episode as not only an allusion to the violent Shakespearean tragedy, but an actual retelling of it.:50–52:733
Reception and impact
"Scott Tenorman Must Die" is among the most acclaimed episodes of South Park, and is one of the most notorious episodes, according to Stone. "Scott Tenorman Must Die" is often regarded as the greatest episode of South Park ever made, and has frequently topped many "Best of" lists for South Park episodes including lists by WhatCulture, IGN, and Kotaku. Parker and Stone choose the episode as one of their eleven favorites in 2003, and one of their ten favorites in 2006. Fans voted the episode into the 2nd place in a major 2011 South Park voting held under the "Year of the Fan" promotion. The first place was taken by the tenth season episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft".
The events of this episode are given new meaning in the season fourteen episode "201", in which Scott returns as the leader of the Ginger Separatist Movement, revealing to Cartman that, while researching his revenge upon Cartman, Scott learned that his own father Jack Tenorman (a fictional Denver Broncos right tackle) had fathered Cartman with Cartman's mother Liane. This means that Cartman is responsible for his own father's death and feeds him to his half-brother in "Scott Tenorman Must Die".
In the 2009 video game South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play!, the player has to fight Scott Tenorman in a boss fight. In the 2012 game South Park: Tenorman's Revenge, the player is able to control the four main characters of the show, who have to battle Tenorman and his army of gingers, as the kids travel through time.
"Scott Tenorman Must Die" was released on VHS in June 2002, along with the episodes "It Hits the Fan" and "Cripple Fight", on a video titled Insults to Injuries. A DVD version of the compilation was released simultaneously, and also contained "Proper Condom Use", in addition to the episodes contained on the VHS release. South Park: The Complete Fifth Season was released on DVD in 2005. South Park – The Hits: Volume 1, a DVD compilation which features Parker and Stone's ten favorite episodes, was released in 2006, and contains the episode. Parker and Stone provided short audio commentary for the episode on both The Complete Fifth Season and The Hits DVDs. "Scott Tenorman Must Die" was also released as part of The Cult of Cartman, a 2008 DVD compilation of Cartman-centric episodes.
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