Monday, June 15, 2009

Tag Team: Danielle and Steve on Butters, South Park and Disney

Butters - Greatest character ever, or just the best one?

To rip-off the disclaimer for Bill Simmons' BS Report, Tag Team is a free flowing discussion between two adults that sometimes touches on mature subjects. Today's correspondent (I haven't thought of a good term for it yet) is Danielle Membrino, a photographer, Corcoran College and Rogers High School alum, and a friend of a friend from college. Also, her mom apparently loved reading my police reports when I wrote for The Newport Daily News. Topics this week include how awesome Butters on South Park is, the best worst Cartman moments, Disney's slide and possible redemption, and the success of Pixar. Want to do your own Tag Team with me? Send me an e-mail or leave a comment.


Steve: Butters is probably my favorite South Park character, because he's really the only naive and innocent person on the show. The four lead characters are all super-aware for their ages, and Butters is kind of the innocent counter to them all, especially Cartman.

The difference is especially profound in "AWESOM-O." You know, the one where Cartman pretends to be a robot. It was after South Park had made the switch from a straight-up "gross out" show (the first couple seasons) to its current style, which is to mock trends getting headlines. It is also one of the few episodes where someone really does get the better of Cartman, although it takes forever to get to that point.

Also a strong episode from that season - "Woodland Critter Christmas," another Cartman creation, revealed at the end. The reveal in the middle of the episode probably makes it my favorite South Park episode of all-time, just narrowly beating out "The Jeffersons." Both of these, and "AWESOM-O," are from season eight, probably the best of all the seasons. Also in that season - "Good Times With Weapons," "Douche and Turd," and the Paris Hilton episode, another strong Butters' episode.


Danielle: I remember the first time I saw a glimpse of South Park was when I was like maybe about 13. My dad was watching it and I walked in the room, and I don't know what episode it is, but they're in class and Kenny tells Mr. Garrison (this is pre-sex change) that he has to go to the bathroom. So he lets him, and the bathroom door is in the classroom and Kenny goes in and you can hear him having REALLY bad diarrhea.

Then my dad noticed me in the room and changed the channel, saying, "You're too young for this." I was just like, whatever, looked pretty gross to me anyway, so what did I care?

I didn't get into South Park until my sophomore year of college. We only got like 20 channels in our dorms and one of them was Comedy Central. One weekend they were doing a south park marathon, so I watched it. And it was the episode I was telling you about before [on Facebook], where Cartman thinks he's a ghost. I fell in love with the show after that.

Butters is definitely my favorite character as well. He's the most innocent and child-like, and I love him for it. Even when an episode isn't about him, if he just has like one or two lines, it's hilarious.

There was the episode where Cartman tries to run away from home, and when he asks the other boys if he can stay with him, they keep saying no. So Cartman's like, "FIIIINE. I'LL JUST STAY WITH BUTTERS THEN!" and Butters replies, "No. My mom says I'm not allowed to bring homeless people home anymore."

I can't get over the adorableness of Butters. He tries so hard to do what he thinks he's suppose to do. Like when Cartman ends up getting him sent to that camp where they make kids "not gay" and Butters has no idea what's going on and admits he is "confused" but was really only confused about why everyone thought he was confused. Or when they take a class field trip to the 1800's town but Cartman wants to go to the amusement park next door and Butters is his field trip buddy, so Butters refuses to let go of his hand the ENTIRE time until they're back on the bus.

I love the naivety of all the characters sometimes too. It helps you remember that they're only suppose to be 4th graders. Like in season four when Cartman tries making "mature" friends online and ends up bringing his friends along to a NAMBLA convention. Amazing.

I'm also partial to season 10. I have it on my iTunes and I'm looking through it and I love so many of the episodes. "Make Love, Not Warcraft," "ManBearPig" ("I'M SUPER SERIAL!!!") and "Tsst" (the one where the dog whisperer comes to train Cartman, so good!), and of course, "A Million Little Fibers." Who doesn't love Towelie? "Don't call me shoeless, you're shoeless!" The episode involves one of my favorite characters and makes fun of that ridiculous incident of the guy who wrote the book that wasn't 100 percent true and people freaked out.

I also like how a couple times the creators have predicted things that would happen in pop culture. There was the episode with Britney Spears, like a season ago I think it was, and the media is OBSESSED with her, even after she blows half her head off. And then at the end the paparazzi explain to the south park kids that they don't want to harass Britney, they have to. It had something to do with they had to have one sacrifice every year in order for the crops to grow, or something ridiculous like that.

So then at the end after Britney dies, all the paparazzi are at a grocery store and the news comes on about Miley Cyrus being the next big thing, and the paparazzi are all ominously looking at it going "oooooo." And I found this funny because the episode came out only days before Miley was all over the media for that "scandalous" photo of her in a bra, and then she was in the news all the time for a while for stupid little things that no one really cared about. I thought it was pretty funny South Park put that episode out and then it actually happened.

Going back to Butters... Did you see the episode about vampires in the new season? I saw most of it, but I enjoyed it because Butters thinks he is a vampire and sneaks into Cartman's room to "bite" him and Cartman wakes up with Butters on him and shouts out, "Mooooooooooom (although it's really more like maaaaaaaaam) Butters is in my room trying to kiiiiiiisssss meeeee cause he's realized his sexualllllllity!" And when Cartman's mom comes in, Butters hisses at her and goes back out the window. I was laughing so hard.

I feel like I'm not making any points here really... Just kinda talking about how awesome Butters is, haha. But I definitely loved "Awesome-O" too. I loved it every time Cartman had to do something he didn't want to do, or something bad happened, and he would just say "weeak." And Butters is just SOOO excited for his robot; jumping up and down and clapping. I want Butters as my child.

Hahaha, probably one of the most memorable episodes for me, is when Cartman is (I think) getting revenge on some bully or something, and is pulling pranks on him. The last prank he does to this kid is to invite him to a chili cookout and after the kid eats it, Cartman tells him he killed the boys parents and made them into the chili. It's so funny, but so incredibly wrong at the same time.


Steve: Okay, sorry about the slight delay in responding to this. To switch gears for a second, I saw The Hangover earlier tonight, and it was as awesome as everyone else is proclaiming it to be. What are your thoughts on it? We seem to skew scarily close in terms of pop culture taste, so it wouldn't surprise me if you liked it a lot, but it is more of a "guy" movie in the vein of Old School as opposed to something like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which both sexes seem to like equally.

But getting back to South Park, I vaguely recall seeing the first
season as it was broadcasting. Even at the time, I recognized that this was something weird, bizarre and special, and the first couple seasons were nothing but the kids acting like assholes toward one another. The social commentary didn't come until later, once they exhausted most of the "Cartman's mom is a slut" jokes. Also shocking - Mystery Science Theatre 3000 came on after South Park, within a few hours on Sci-Fi, so that was always a solid block of television for me
growing up.

As far as favorite episodes go, as you point out by naming several, there are just so many great ones that deserve to be mentioned. It might be easier to name ones that aren't that great. For example, I thought the April Fool's Joke, "Terrance and Phillip: Not Without My Anus," was pretty bad. While I loved the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone gave the shaft to their own fans, the episode itself stunk. The same goes with this season's episode about the Queef Sisters.

Standout episodes that we haven't mentioned yet: "Deathcamp of Tolerance" features the triumphant debut of Lemmiwinks. Right before "AWESOM-O" they hinted that another Lemmiwinks episode was coming in some promos, but we're several seasons past that point and still nothing. "Cartoon Wars" is interesting and unique with its criticism and defense of Family Guy, which I found spot on. Yeah, Family Guy is full of ridiculous non sequitors, but sometimes it is good to just laugh instead of having to watch a show that gets all deep and preachy.

And finally, you can't go wrong with the ultimate Professor Chaos
episode - "Simpsons Already Did It" from the sixth season. I'm also a
big fan of The Simpsons, so seeing South Park skewer them a bit was
hilarious, and Butters being involved made it all the better. And in
the words of Cartman, Sea-people + Sea-men = Sea-ciety.


Danielle: You know, to tell the truth, I'm not all that interested in seeing The Hangover. It doesn't look like something I'd find as hilarious as everyone else does. Wouldn't pay to go see it, but I'll probably add it to my Netflix. Even though they're completely different movies, the hype around this movie was the same for Anchorman - Everyone thought it was soooooo funny. And I hate Anchorman. I wanted to see Anchorman, I was excited to see it, my dad and I went to go see it in the theaters, and I think I laughed like twice.

I honestly don't think Will Ferrell is all that funny. I liked Stranger Than Fiction, and Kicking and Screaming. That's about it. And really I only liked him as Alex Trebek on SNL. So, as for The Hangover, I will reserve final judgment til I see it months from now on Netflix.

I did go see Up yesterday though. I loved it. It also is as good as everyone says it is. I always have to commend Pixar for getting emotions across in non-speaking scenes. There's a montage in the beginning of the movie of the life of the old man and his wife that is just heart-wrenching. And the freakin' huge ass bird in the movie doesn't speak but is hilarious. And the talking dogs are really funny.

I love almost every Pixar movie. The only two I can say I was only meh about were Cars and Ratatouille. Cars was cute, but didn't really do anything for me. Maybe a little too kiddish? And Ratatouille just lacked the normal spark their movies usually have. It wasn't bad, just not as endearing to me. I also always love their film shorts they put before the movies. Did you ever see the Jackalope one? My family went to go see The Incredibles, and my mom and I were hysterical with laughter watching this short. We were pretty much the only ones laughing, which was slightly embarrassing because we were laughing pretty loud. Finding Nemo is definitely my favorite of all Pixar movies, but Monsters Inc. is up there too.

I also saw an interesting preview before Up that got me excited. Disney is making another actual cartoon movie! The Princess and The Frog. Now I'm super excited for another animated film. I'm kind of in love with classic Disney, if you weren't aware. I liked the computer animated movies, but it's just not the same. There's just so many memories attached to the classic Disney movies for me. Plus I do love my Disney songs.

I do like how Disney is trying to update their image though with this cartoon movie by not having it be just another white girl princess and white boy prince. Although they did have Jasmine and Mulan. But who are most famous? Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty (Aurora) and Cinderella. But anyway, for this movie they have a black princess and the frog, who is a cursed prince, that I believe is supposed to be Spanish.

... Wow, none of that had anything to do with South Park, but I don't think I have much else to say about it. You're right that there are fewer bad episodes; I can't even really recall any because I generally forget things I don't like! I'm glad they're keeping up the good work though and keeping Butters as cute and naive as ever.


Steve: Well, ideally, the conversation should kind of ramble and get random, and not talk about just South Park, so we're doing well so far.

As far as The Hangover goes, yeah, if you weren't into Anchorman and Old School, then this probably wouldn't appeal to you. It is that sort of behavior, straight down to a performance by The Dan Band . I am a bit shocked that you hated Anchorman though - No love for Steve Carrell either? You don't love lamp? I haven't seen Stranger Than Fiction - I've wanted to, but never gotten around to it - but Kicking and Screaming, really? I saw that and was pretty bored throughout. There were only a couple laughs for me. A lot of Will Ferrell's films are hit or miss, yes.

The Bruno movie is coming out soon, yay or nay to that? While I liked Borat, it did make me cringe in so many parts that I never re-watched it.

Up looks awesome, and it has gotten awesome reviews, so I wouldn't have minded seeing that either. All the Pixar movies are good, although I admittedly have been slacking with my viewings of them; I haven't seen Cars or Ratatouille. For some reason, I only seem to get the urge to watch them as date movies, and normally watch other things before I get to them - North by Northwest, This Is Spinal Tap for the 40th time, The Brak Show and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.

I'm glad that Disney is getting back into the traditional animation game, though. As great as the Pixar films are, there is just something about the classic Disney animation that is timeless. One of
my "writer's block" entries is a comparison of the shitty Rugrats in Paris vs. the awesome Pinocchio, both of which I had to watch while substitute teaching. Even though Pinocchio was in Spanish, it was still much more watchable than Rugrats, which already seems horrible and dated.

I will hold my judgment for the new film until I see it, although I'll add the qualifier that Disney stopped with the whole animation thing because they had made so many clunkers. Even with this one, you should be fearful that they'll do something stupid like cast Miley Cyrus or Raven the Cosby Girl as the black princess, instead of a real voiceover artist.


Danielle: Well, Steve Carrell was the only person I found amusing in Anchorman. The few times I did laugh usually involved scenes he was in. I know Kicking and Screaming isn't a very good movie, but they showed it on TBS so much when I was in college, and that was one of few channels I had, so it grew on me. Plus, since I've worked with kids a lot, I get a lot of that humor. I don't really have any interest in Bruno either. I saw like the first 10 minutes of Borat and that was enough for me.

Pixar movies are great date movies, I have to agree with you there. In the theater for Up, there were actually almost no children. Mostly adult couples. Or a group of teenage friends. Or me.

Rugrats in Paris was pretty lame. I did use to like that show though. Nickelodeon was soooo freakin' awesome! I still enjoy a couple of their shows; SpongeBob Squarepants I still find amusing, and the little girl I nanny loves it, so it's a show I can watch with her and tolerate. I also find Drake and Josh fairly amusing at times too.

Don't worry about the new Disney cartoon - they've got some random people doing voices, not anyone too famous. Only name I recognized was Oprah Winfrey. What were the animated flops? Hmm, Atlantis was only OK. So was Treasure Planet. I did really like The Emperor's New Groove though. I think they don't do so well because there are no good songs! But The Emperor's New Groove was funny enough it was okay without songs.

Ok, I'm tired, so I'm done. Hope this was good enough!


  1. haha this was soooo long. who will read all this??

  2. heh, The sad thing is that I was going to reply once more, but then I popped it into Word and noticed that we were already at 3,000 words.

    Listen, we have VERY important things to discuss, things the world needs to know. To use an Anchorman reference you won't get, we're really RIPPING THE LID OFF of things.

  3. haha I do remember that line. I would definitely do this again. So when you have to start recycling people, bring me back! :D

  4. Okay, cool! Will do. So far, your entry has tied in "most hits" with the one I did with Bob and the one about the bird, so people are apparently reading.

  5. "Scott Tenorman Must Die" is easily South Park's most infamous episode ever. I didn't think you were going to mention it, and then Danielle pulled it out of nowhere. I mean, Cartman made Scott eat his parents! And then he licked the tears off of his face! "AWESOME-O" is definitely great as well. At the end where he finally gets the government to listen to him and then Butters walks in and he immediately goes back into character. Hilarious. I also love your verbage on South Park's style: mock trends getting headlines. It's so true; Trey and Matt are geniuses in that respect. Other episodes I love that you didn't mention:

    -"Freak Strike" (Maury Povich -- Whateva! I do what I want!)
    -"With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" (People who annoy you: N _ G G E R S)
    -"The Coon" (Dark Knight spoof)
    -"Up the Down Steroid" (Special Olympics; side note: Timmy's explanation of Jimmy using steroids is priceless)

    Speaking of that episode, I love when South Park focuses in and yells at people accused of things that they've actively denied even though the entire public (or at least, the creators of the show) does not believe them. Off the top of my head, I can recall this happening in the steroid episode I just mentioned with McGwire, Bonds, and Giambi. And it happens in the Butters episode with OJ Simpson and the Ramseys.

    Re-reading what I just wrote, I made absolutely no argument for or against Butters. Anyone who reads this gains nothing except a sample of my favorite episodes and why I like the show in general. I'm sorry world :/

    -- the counterpart on the Bricks Explode blog

    PS- "Toy Story 2" is Pixar's best.
    PPS- Steve Carrell is somewhat funny, but Michael Scott is 85% of why I do not like "The Office."

  6. I think everyone has a bunch of South Park episodes they like that I didn't even touch on. For example, some people I know only like the season one and two episodes, where it was just Stan, Kyle and Cartman calling one another butt-effers. Good call on the "screaming at felons" thing though, I do find that hilarious.

    Are you saying your opinion isn't important? Since it agrees with my take and Danielle's, I think it's perfect!

    I prefer to call it Brick Sexplode. I have no idea why.

    And I've never seen Toy Story 2, and although Michael Scott has gone WAY over the top on The Office, I still like him. I think he officially jumped the shark when he and Dwight drove the car into the lake because the GPS told them to.


Try not to be too much of an ass, unless completely necessary. You are subject to tyrannical moderation.


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