The Death Camp of Tolerance
|"The Death Camp of Tolerance"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||November 20, 2002|
"The Death Camp of Tolerance" is the fourteenth episode of the sixth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 93rd overall episode of the series. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 20, 2002. In the episode, Mr. Garrison tries to get fired from his new job as the fourth grade teacher at South Park Elementary by being overtly and explicitly homosexual in front of the students, but is unable to as the rest of the faculty and the children's parents are desperate to appear tolerant of his homosexuality. The boys do not share their sentiments, and as punishment for not tolerating Garrison's outrageous behavior, they are sent to a Nazi-esque "tolerance camp." All of the scenes inside the camp are shown in black-and-white, a homage to Schindler's List.
Finally promoted to teaching fourth graders, Mr. Garrison realizes that getting fired for being homosexual could allow him to sue the school for millions. He decides to perform outrageous sex acts in the classroom, hiring his partner Mr. Slave as his teaching assistant. Though the children complain about Garrison's inappropriate activities, their parents mistakenly think their children are intolerant of homosexuality. However, despite their thoughts about that, the adults bring the children to the Museum of Tolerance to learn about tolerance of minorities or those with different life choices, though they hypocritically attack a nearby smoker with verbal abuse. Garrison, annoyed that no one has complained about his actions, steps up his campaign to get fired by shoving Lemmiwinks, the class gerbil, into Mr. Slave's rectum, an act called gerbilling.
The children mention their discomfort to Chef, who in turn, reports Garrison's actions to Principal Victoria, but ends up being sent to a "tolerance seminar". Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Butters refuse to attend class, so their parents send them to an Auschwitz-like "tolerance camp" (it is unknown if this is the same camp Chef was sent to). Back at school, Garrison is to receive the "Courageous Teacher Award" for overcoming adversity. Still frustrated at not being fired, Garrison goes all out at the ceremony in an extremely flamboyant and stereotypically gay manner (humming Ferde Grofé's "On the Trail" from the Grand Canyon Suite). Although the parents finally understand what their kids were telling them about and are indeed shocked at Garrison's behavior, they cannot bring themselves to criticize it, as they fear being branded "intolerant". When the people continue to call Garrison and Mr. Slave "courageous" for their actions, Garrison finally breaks down and shouts at them that tolerating something "doesn't mean you have to like it." He goes on to say that tolerating his homosexuality should not mean that he can do things which are obviously inappropriate in front of his students and begs to be fired so that he can collect on a discrimination lawsuit, but Principal Victoria says she has a better idea.
The parents hurry to collect their malnourished and emaciated kids from the tolerance camp, but fail to realize that they tried to tell them about Garrison's behavior. Principal Victoria concludes that Garrison and Mr. Slave are "intolerant of their own behavior", and she is sending them to the tolerance camp so that they will accept themselves. As these chain of events all occurred, Lemmiwinks traversed the regions of Mr. Slave's digestive system, receiving advice from three animal spirits – the Frog Prince, Sparrow Prince and Catatafish. The journey is also accompanied by songs that parody those used in the 1977 Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit. As Mr. Slave arrives at the tolerance camp, he coughs up Lemmiwinks. The spirits, now free from the intestines of Mr. Slave, appear before Lemmiwinks and crown him "the Gerbil King". Lemmiwinks exits the scene with the "Ballad of Lemmiwinks" playing over the credits.
"The Death Camp of Tolerance" was written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker. By this point in the series' sixth season, the show had followed a story arc involving the death of Kenny ("Kenny Dies"), and several other tangents, among those Mr. Garrison's move to teaching kindergarten. Parker and co-creator Matt Stone began their attempts to return the show to normalcy, with Mr. Garrison’s return to being the children's teacher in this episode.
The staff at the studio found the subplot involving the Lemmiwinks ridiculous; Parker recalled watching an animatic and he and Stone being the only ones laughing, while the others sat and stared. The animation crew viewed the sequences as temporary, until Parker informed them that they would be in the final episode. Although few besides the creators found the episode humorous during production, Stone later recalled receiving calls from friends who found the subplot funny, while also remarking, "That's the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen." The character and plot line originated as a spoof of The Lord of the Rings and its primary protagonist, Frodo Baggins, who Parker and Stone found a very ineffective and pointless main character. Lemmiwinks was originally a squirrel in a possible live-action Lord of the Rings parody the duo scrapped. Despite this, a mention of a fictitious program revolving around the Lemmiwinks was mentioned in a 2001 episode of the duo's live action series That's My Bush!.
The character of Mr. Slave, who is introduced in this episode, is the voice of South Park staffer John Hansen. The voice originated in conversations with Parker and Stone as an arbitrary, stereotypical homosexual voice.
In 2010, The Daily Telegraph mentioned the episode as a moment in which the series solidified its form, writing, "The episode contains all the ingredients that have helped to transform South Park into the funniest, cleverest, most corrosive and watchable satire on television." According to the paper, "some fans still regard [it] as the greatest episode."
Lemmiwinks, alongside The Frog King, The Sparrow Prince and The Catata Fish, later appear in the fifteenth season episode "Bass to Mouth" (2011) as well as the 2014 video game South Park: The Stick of Truth.
- Haske, Steve (March 9, 2014). ""Stick Of Truth" Preparation: South Park Episodes You Need To Watch". Complex. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- ""South Park" The Death Camp of Tolerance (2002)". South Park Studios. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Parker, Trey (October 2005). South Park: The Complete Sixth Season: "The Death Camp of Tolerance" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- Stone, Matt (October 2005). South Park: The Complete Sixth Season: "The Death Camp of Tolerance" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- Delingpole, James (May 3, 2010). "South Park: The most dangerous show on television?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- McGee, Ryan (October 19, 2011). "South Park: "Bass to Mouth"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 28, 2014.