As South Park celebrates its 20th year of outrageous antics and sharp social commentary, here’s a rundown of the best celebrity sucker punches the show has ever delivered.
While Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s breakthrough show was originally synonymous with potty-mouthed kids in 1997, South Park has developed into one of the last smart pillars of satire unafraid to strike celebrity gullets far and wide.
Spanning politicians, troubled popstars to presenter ‘minge’, here’s the most hysterical and on-point celebrity takedowns South Park has ever conceived.
Tom Cruise – Trapped In The Closet
Perhaps one of the most controversial episodes in South Park’s arsenal, Trapped In The Closet was a full scale takedown of Scientology which led to actor Isaac Hayes, who voiced Chef, to leave the show due to his membership with the faith.
Along with ripping apart Scientologist beliefs, a portrayal of Tom Cruise also hilariously refuses to literally ‘come out of the closet’ in Stan’s bedroom – taking aim at rumours circling around Tom’s sexuality at the time.
Whatever your stance on the episode, it stands as one of South Park’s most ruthless moments which left a blazing trail of controversy in its wake.
Kanye West – Fishsticks
How do you satirise a rapper with perhaps the biggest ego around? You cut through his claims of being a genius with one beautifully simple joke, which he refuses to admit he doesn’t understand.
While the increasingly violent lengths Kanye takes to understand the joke are hilarious, the episode ‘s closing moments are the standout – as the rapper embraces his new identity as a gay fish in a music parody to his track Heartless with garbling autotune aplenty.
So, er, do you like Fishsticks?
Britney Spears – Britney’s New Look
In one of the show’s best episodes, Matt and Trey use Britney Spears’ famed ‘shaved head’ meltdown to hold a mirror against western obsession with crumbling celebrities.
The pair, of course, dial up the ridiculous by having Britney blow the majority of her head off with a shotgun, somehow surviving, and with the media picking apart her camel toe even through getting shot in the face.
Eventually its revealed to be a conspiracy to kill Spears as a corn harvest sacrifice, with a surprisingly bleak closing segment as hordes of citizens with flashing cameras circle Britney and eventually photograph her to death.
It’s a rare brilliant case where South Park paints a celebrity as a victim, but works as a ferocious attack against fascination with troubled celebrities.
Oprah Winfrey – A Million Little Fibers
Alright, so this isn’t really a ‘takedown’ in any shape or form. But where else will you find Oprah Winfrey’s butthole and vagina (Gary and Minge respectively) holding hostages at gun-point?
Probably (and hopefully) nowhere.
Al Gore – ManBearPig
While some may believe it’s misguided to mock Al Gore’s attempts to highlight global warming, it’s proof that no political slant is free from being ribbed by South Park.
Taking the concept of Al Gore as someone who’s desperate to become a hero, he’s seen attempting to warn an uncaring public over the fictional ManBearPig while chanting ‘Excelsior’ in a red cape.
His character even appeared as a boss in South Park video game The Stick Of Truth – the telltale sign of a beloved celebrity impression. Super serial.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck – Fat Butt and Pancake Head
Remember the golden haze of 2002 when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were a thing? No? You’ll probably remember Taco-Flavored Kisses instead.
The episode is easily one of the most surreal, with Cartman adopting a hispanic stereotyped hand version of Ms. Lopez who manages to supersede the real Jennifer Lopez in fame and fortune.
It culminates in Ben Affleck falling in love with Ms Lopez and having sex with Cartman’s hand. Understandable? Nope. Hysterically funny? Oh yes.
Jonas Brothers – The Ring
The Jonas Brothers became South Park targets following the publicity surrounding their decision to wear purity rings. In the episode however, this is spun as a cover-up marketing tactic to sell sex to young girls under the savage watch of a violent, foul-mouthed Mickey Mouse.
While the tyrannical Disney figurehead is the main target here, the Jonas Brothers don’t come away unscathed – as they douse young girls with white foam at their concerts while rattling through songs which emphasise ‘BAY BAAAY’ after every line. Something which has perhaps haunted members Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas ever since.
Mel Gibson – The Passion Of The Jew
Depicting Mel Gibson as a crazed loon with a slight fetish for torture, The Passion Of The Jew became one of the most noted takedowns of his controversial directorial debut when it released back in 2004.
It centres around the differing reactions to The Passion Of The Christ from the four boys, with Stan and Kenny being disgusted and labelling it a ‘snuff film’, Kyle questioning his Jewish faith while Cartman uses it as justification for all his anti-semitic beliefs and creates a new Nazi party under the guise of the Mel Gibson Fan Club.
If that wasn’t enough, the episode concludes with Mel Gibson running wild in his underpants before gleefully crapping on Cartman’s face. Incredible.
Russell Crowe – The New Terrance And Phillip Movie Trailer
Taking aim at the actor’s hot-headed reputation, South Park turned his temper into a TV show nobody wants to watch titled Fightin’ Around The World With Russell Crowe.
Puncturing the kids anticipation for the new Terrance and Phillip movie trailer which is set to debut in a commercial break, it sees Crowe sailing around with his tugboat friend Tugger as he traverses the world beating up a variety of different nationalities.
The extra sting in the funny bone? When Crowe attempts to cheer up Tugger by singing a song which causes the boat to attempt suicide. Had Matt and Trey somehow seen 2012’s Les Miserables 10 years before?
Saddam Hussein – Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Iraq’s former dictator became a reoccurring character on South Park, most noted as the main antagonist in feature film Bigger Longer & Uncut.
Seen literally getting into bed with Satan to take advantage of his power as a couple, Saddam is later killed by his devil lover and generally painted as the evil ex-boyfriend in following encounters.
Other episodes see Saddam attempt to win back Satan before being banished to heaven to live with the Mormons (he can’t stand their kindness), where he’s later seen building a chemical weapons plant under the guise of a chocolate chip factory.
As Saddam would say however, ‘Hey, relax guy. You need a rest fella. I’m not hiding any bombs.’
You can find episodes of South Park currently streaming on Now TV.