The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs
|"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 14
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||March 24, 2010|
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" is the second episode of the fourteenth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 197th overall episode of the series. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 24, 2010. In the episode, the South Park boys write a vulgar book with the sole intention of getting it banned. When Stan's parents discover the manuscript, the boys accuse Butters of writing it, then are enraged when it becomes hailed as a literary masterpiece.
The episode was written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA L in the United States. It serves as a satire of pop culture criticism, and mocks people who find hidden messages in works which are ironically unnecessary. The episode includes other themes, including the lack of interest in reading among American youths, and even mocks the idea that a book alone can inspire someone into committing violent crimes.
The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger plays a major part in the episode, as the South Park boys are inspired to write their own book when they feel Salinger's book does not live up to its controversial reputation. The episode also mocks actress Sarah Jessica Parker and the Kardashian family from the reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" received generally positive reviews, with many commentators praising the episode's themes of the over-analysis into works of culture, although some found the vomiting running gag to be too outdated and grew repetitive. According to Nielsen Media Research, the episode was seen by 3.24 million viewers. After the episode aired, Kim, Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian praised their portrayal and on-screen kill-offs.
The students at South Park Elementary are assigned to read The Catcher in the Rye, and (especially the four main boys) grow excited when Mr. Garrison tells them that the book has caused so much controversy, it has been banned from public schools in the past. However, after reading the book, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny are disappointed to find the content completely inoffensive, and feel the school has "tricked" them into reading. They decide to write their own offensive novel, The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs (which they originally called The Tale of Scrotie McDickinass), with the intention of disgusting as many people as possible. Later, Stan's parents find the first draft and read it. They find it so disgusting that they repeatedly vomit while reading. However, they both absolutely loved the book. In fear that they will get into trouble for the book's content, Stan and the boys trick Butters into thinking that he actually wrote the book. Butters believes them because ever since reading The Catcher in the Rye, he feels as though he has been entering into "altered states of consciousness" that make him want to kill John Lennon, before he finds out (from his father) that Lennon is already dead ("Dangit!"). Later on, after learning that The Catcher in the Rye also inspired someone to shoot Ronald Reagan, Butters at first goes out to kill him too but is told that he is dead as well, much to his dismay.
Butters confesses to writing the novel himself. However, Stan and the boys are furious to learn that not only do the South Park adults love the book, a publisher has agreed to sign Butters for a book deal. The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs becomes a huge success, and everybody who reads it vomits profusely, but declares it a masterpiece nonetheless. As Butters becomes a literary icon, the four boys unsuccessfully campaign to have the book banned. They are angered to find readers interpreting passages from the novel as allegories for contentious political issues, even though the boys never intended to convey such messages. Since the book made many references to the supposed unattractiveness of actress Sarah Jessica Parker, Cartman and Kenny plan to get her killed, believing the negative publicity will cause the book to be banned. They dress Parker as a moose (by simply putting antlers on her head), then leave her out in the woods during hunting season.
Butters soon does, in fact, write a novel of his very own, The Poop That Took a Pee, which consists solely of simple descriptions of scatological acts. The four boys are convinced the book will be a disaster and expose Butters as a fraud over the first book. However, much to their surprise, readers actually find it an even deeper, more profound book, and continue reading their own allegorical messages into the text. After finishing the book, one crazed reader storms onto the set of reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians and murders the entire Kardashian family with a pump-action shotgun. Both The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs and The Poop That Took a Pee are banned as a result, and Butters is devastated, mainly because he always saw Kim Kardashian as "the most beautiful woman in the world". Stan and Kyle suggest that rather than reading books and mindlessly discovering false messages in them, people should simply watch television instead. Cartman also tricks Butters into thinking that he dressed Sarah Jessica Parker in a moose costume, and was therefore responsible for her being shot in the woods. Butters starts to panic at first, but calms down and shrugs because of how "ugly" she was anyway.
Production and theme
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA in the United States. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 24, 2010. The episode serves primarily as a satire of pop culture criticism. Although the South Park boys wrote The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs simply to shock and offend people, readers delve too deeply into the meaning behind the book, finding hidden allegories and symbolism that the actual authors insist are not present. People with conflicting philosophies, including liberals and conservatives, and pro-choice and pro-life advocates, attempt to claim that the same work conveys and validates their own ideology. The script serves as a criticism of people who take such works of pop culture too seriously. Although this is demonstrated specifically through literary criticism in the episode, the theme can be extended to film criticism and television criticism as well. The episode suggests people are so desperate for inspiration, they are willing to impose their hopes and dreams into works of art, even if they completely lack those qualities. Some commentators thought South Park creators Parker and Matt Stone were implicitly mocking the amount of analysis into deeper meaning South Park itself often receives in its reviews. Others have suggested this over-analysis is a reference to the number of adult themes identified in the Harry Potter and Twilight young adult novel series.
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerBalls" portrays young children as almost entirely uninterested in reading. The South Park boys only exhibit excitement for their reading assignment based on the promise of offensive and controversial material in the book. Rather than finding any merit in the book, the boys are angry when they find the material inoffensive, prompting Cartman to declare he has been "tricked" into reading an entire book. Through the rise and fall of Butters' career as an author, the episode also demonstrates the perils of literary success and hoaxes. The episode also lampoons the notion that a book can be identified as the sole reason for a reader to kill somebody, particularly through Butters' reaction to The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs. Butters experiences blackouts after reading The Catcher in the Rye and chanting "Kill John Lennon/Ronald Reagan!", until he disappointedly learns they are already dead. Later, a reader of Butters' book The Poop That Took a Pee goes out and murders the Kardashians.
The Catcher in the Rye, the 1951 novel about teenage confusion and alienation by J.D. Salinger, plays a large part in "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs". The episode references the controversial reception the book has received over the years for its risqué elements and vulgar language. Mr. Garrison tells the students the book has only recently been lifted from the South Park Elementary's banned books list, a reference to past censorship the book has received in public schools. The episode also refers to the alleged role The Catcher in the Rye played in inspiring Mark David Chapman to shoot and kill musician John Lennon, and John Hinckley, Jr. to attempt to assassinate former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Lennon, a former member of The Beatles and long-time peace activist, is referred to by Cartman as "the king of hippies". Butters and the eventual murderer rail against 'phonies' in the same manner as Holden Caulfield in Salinger's book. "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" aired two months after the death of author J.D. Salinger, and just weeks after letters by J.D. Salinger went on display at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.
The episode also prominently features the Kardashian family, who are the focus of the E! reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Sarah Jessica Parker, an actress who has been mocked on South Park before, is also lampooned in the story.
During one scene, Butters appears on Today, a morning talk show on NBC (referred to as HBC in the episode, but with NBC's peacock logo), to promote his book. Television hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira are featured in the scene, during which both vomit for a particularly long time in response to some of the more vulgar passages in The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs. Morgan Freeman, an actor known for his narration work, conducts a reading in the episode of Butters' second book, The Poop That Took a Pee. Trey Parker provided the voice of Freeman in "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs". During one scene, Butters' father can be seen reading a newspaper with a front page story about a historic health care bill passing, a reference to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed and signed the same week the South Park episode first aired.
Release and reception
In its original American broadcast on March 24, 2010, "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" was watched by 3.24 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Media Research, making it the most watched cable television show of the night. The episode received an overall 1.9 rating/3 share. Among viewers between ages 18 and 49, it received a 1.8 rating/5 share, and among male viewers between 18 and 34, it received a 3.5 rating/12 share. As a result of the episode, the phrase "Scrotie McBoogerballs" was the top trending topic for March 25 on the social networking and microblogging website Twitter. "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs", along with the thirteen other episodes from South Park's fourteenth season, was released on a three-disc DVD set and two-disc Blu-ray set in the United States on April 26, 2011. The episode was also released on the two-disc DVD collection A Little Box of Butters.
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" received generally positive reviews. Carlos Delgado of iF Magazine called the episode a potential classic and a "phenomenal follow up showing" to the season premiere "Sexual Healing", which he did not enjoy. Delgado said the script was intelligent and praised the theme of over-analyzing art. He also praised the vomiting jokes, and said he could not remember the last time he laughed so hard during a South Park episode. Entertainment Weekly television columnist Ken Tucker said it was better than the season premiere, which he also praised. Tucker particularly enjoyed the satire of pop culture criticism, and wrote, "I'd compare the Scrotie episode to the work of Rabelais, Henry Miller, and Dennis Cooper, but then I'd be part of the boys' satire, wouldn't I?"
TV Fanatic said the episode was not as strong as previous seasons, but an improvement over "Sexual Healing". The site praised the emphasis on Butters and the pop culture references to The Catcher in the Rye, John Lennon, Sarah Jessica Parker and "the useless Kardashian Klan". The A.V. Club writer Sean O'Neal said he "chuckled a few times", but found the vomit jokes acted like a substitute for "actual dialogue". However, O'Neal praised the satire of people looking too deeply into the meaning of meaningless art, and how easily that theme can be applied to South Park itself. Not all reviews were entirely positive. Ramsey Isler of IGN said Butters was "awesome, as usual", and thought the jokes about the Kardashians were funny, but that the positive elements of the episode were "not enough to balance out the failures". He particularly criticized the Sarah Jessica Parker jokes as "flat and random", and the constant vomiting as "just one long-running 'joke' that was just plain awful".
The day after "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" aired, members of the Kardashian family responded positively to their portrayal and on-screen deaths. On her blog, Kim Kardashian wrote that the family found the episode very funny and were honored to be featured in the episode. She wrote, "We were all dying when we saw this clip from South Park that aired last night... literally, LOL. They killed us all!!!" She also wrote, "I managed to survive the longest... of course!" Kourtney Kardashian joked on her Twitter page, "How rude! Southpark!!", Khloé Kardashian wrote she did not know about her appearance on the show until she suddenly received numerous messages on her Twitter page. Khloé also said she found the scene funny, and laughed at how unattractively she and her sisters were portrayed, although she said the Bruce Jenner cartoon looked very realistic. She wrote, "Even though we all weren't portrayed as the most attractive South Park characters, I was still so flattered since I love that show haha."
- Tucker, Ken (March 25, 2010). "'South Park' and 'The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerBalls': Writing a bestseller, killing the Kardashians". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- Isler, Ramsey (March 25, 2010). "South Park: "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" Review". IGN. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- "South Park Review: "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs"". TV Fanatic. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- Delgado, Carlos (March 25, 2010). "TV Review: South Park – Season 14 – 'The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs'". iF Magazine.
- O'Neal, Sean (March 24, 2010). "South Park: "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- "Scrotie McBoogerballs: A New Literary Classic". Zimbio. March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- "South Park calls Sarah Jessica Parker a 'transvestite donkey witch'". Metro. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- "FAQ – South Park Studios". South Park Studios (Official). April 26, 2010. Archived from the original on September 15, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- Seidman, Robert (March 25, 2010). "More Good Numbers for "South Park" + "Ugly Americans" and Other Wednesday Cable Finals". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- Woods, Tamara (March 25, 2010). "South Park Episode Scrotie McBoogerballs Trending Twitter Gives Lessons On Books". IndyPosted. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- "South Park – 'The Complete 14th Season' Formally Announced; Seems it Really IS Complete!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2011-07-02. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
- "Kim Kardashian "Honored" to Be Killed on South Park". Us Weekly. March 26, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- Kardashian, Kim (March 25, 2010). "South Park Wiped Out the Kardashians". Kim Kardashian official web site. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
- Kardashian, Khloé (March 25, 2010). "Spoiler Alert: Kardashians Killed on South Park!!". Khloé Kardashian official web site. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
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