South Park Season 16-05 ‘Butterballs’ Recap

South Park never fails to capture the irony of our world’s issues, but do “Stop Bullying” advocates really bully schools into allowing them to host assemblies? Or perhaps that was just a funny “what-if” scenario.

On this week’s episode, during lunch, Cartman goes on about how female recording artists don’t sing about love and relationships anymore, just their vaginas. No one is listening, and Butters sits down with a black eye because he was beaten up for his lunch money again. The boys try to get him to talk about it, but he won’t. Everyone suggests he talk to his Grandmother about his problems since she is visiting.

Butters gets home and sits down to speak with his Grandma. Once they’re alone, however, Butter’s grandma starts slapping him and it is revealed that she is the bully. A bullying expert comes to school and bullies Mr. Mackey to let him give an assembly about bullying. The expert asks the kids who would like to be the head of the “Stop Bullying” movement. Stan agrees to do it.

A “Stop Bullying” movie gets made as a one long-shot music video (with a Cartman in drag singing about his vagina). But Butters breaks down in the middle of it and says that this will only make his problems worse. Kyle warns Stan that the video won’t stop bullying, and to “Just be careful you don’t end up naked and jacking it in San Diego,” a reference to the “Kony 2012” video director Jason Russell, who was actually found jacking it on the streets of San Diego some weeks after his video went viral.

Stan and Butters go on a daytime talk show called “The Dr. Oz Show” to promote their movie. But as Oz harasses Butters to get him to stand up to his bully, Butters goes insane and attacks the doctor. This turns everyone against Stan and the film, since everyone thinks Butters is now a violent psychopath.

Butters enters his Grandma’s room as she is sleeping to tell her that he finally stood up for himself. But he admitted that it only made him feel empty after attacking Dr. Oz. He says that must be how she feels all the time, bullying Butters. And although people like her will always exist, he isn’t always empty and sad since he is not the bully. One day he will be happy, and she will die an empty person. Butters points out that she will die soon, because she’s old, real soon.

Stan arrives at school next day to trash being thrown at him and loud booing by all his classmates. Everyone is pissed because the film they all created is won’t be taken seriously since the face of the project, Butters, attacked the television show host. So finally, Stan realizes there is only one thing to do: Jack it on the streets of San Diego. The episode ends with a naked Stan and a ridiculous song about jacking it in San Diego.

Maybe I’ve been a little hard on South Park recently, but I think it’s justified to expect constant hilarity from two creators that so regularly have weaved smart satire with obscure toilet-humor. Is it so wrong to want a solid reason for the Kony 2012 director reference time and time again? Sure it’s contemporary. But if that’s the only requirement for a critical joke here, then Stan might as well have just been having dinner with Rick Santorum at the end of this episode.

It feels like the writers are losing their grip on Butters’ character. Two weeks ago he sat in a classroom the whole ep with a gun in his mouth, and now he’s beating up talk show hosts and standing up to his grandma for this weeks resolute. Sure characters require a certain amount of personal growth throughout the years, but Butters’ humor relies on his brave ignorance that’s just short of being overt.

If last weeks episode was the tip of their funny bone, we are all in for a boring season. The writing room needs a little more energy, it’s obvious. Maybe Matt and Trey should hire some strippers for the office, or blow lines off their dry erase boards. I doubt they do that stuff anymore though. Either way, I hope they can at least pretend to enjoy making this show after 16 seasons. Although, they have an additional 3 season contract since last November. They might not have to care.