Home / TV Review: South Park – “Canada On Strike!”

TV Review: South Park – “Canada On Strike!”

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Season twelve of South Park continues to hit high notes with “Canada On Strike!”

This is what South Park does best — lining up the confluence of power and self-righteousness and gleefully hanging it with its own rope. Trey Parker and Matt Stone despise the arrogance of authority and privilege. One of the most common satirical motifs in South Park is an authority figure imposing a politically correct theory in blind defiance of common sense.

In an open swipe at the Writers Guild’s recent strike over Internet royalties, Parker and Stone make their contempt for the WGA clear. In their view, the writers' strike was an ego-fueled vendetta driven by the Writers Guild leadership that cost far more than it gained. Here the WGA (that’s the World Canadian Bureau for those with acronym problems) decides to go on strike for respect! And for more money… from the Internet!

The head of the WGA (again, that’s the World Canadian Bureau) is a venal spokes-hole, calling for a Pyrrhic strike over perceived slights and an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Predictably – both in real life and in South Park – the strike goes poorly. While the rank and file Canadians start starving to death, they get replaced with the Danish, the self-styled Canadians of Europe.

Desperate to get the Canadians back to work, the South Park boys decide to make millions off the Internet in order to pay them off. This is where the satire goes from the obvious to the sublime. Not content with mocking the self-serving idiocy that started the strike, South Park hollows out the core issues the WGA is striking over. Viral Internet videos might be popular, but they’re silly and generate no income. The boys’ viral video offering is Butters, sweet naïve Butters, doing a Gwen Stefani inspired hip-hop dance.

The video of Butter’s dancing to “What What In the Butt?” is TiVo rewind worthy, and will get stuck in your head immediately. How catchy is it? A half-hour after the episode ended, my girlfriend was yearning for me to switch back to the “Taco Taco” faux-Jennifer Lopez song that I usually sing to torment her.

After their video takes off, the boys have to collect the millions they think they should earn. Unfortunately, they’re stuck waiting to collect behind all these other superstars:

It’s a brilliant merging of current events, cultural trends, and South Park's sense of the absurd. The final minute is a tour de force of pointed satire. Kyle’s adopted younger brother stands forlornly with the worthless bubblegum and Bennigan’s gift certificate that the strike resulted in. Kyle then launches into a pompous oration, using South Park’s satirical gold standard “I think I’ve learned something today”, taking dead aim at the banal commentary that television offers.

It’s too topical to play well in two or three years, and only time will tell if their economic read on the strike is correct, but their rhetoric is hard to argue with. Long after the episode ages poorly, I’ll still be humming, “What what, in the butt!”

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About Jeffrey Williams

  • bobby

    You might be interested to learn that Butter’s “What What (in the Butt)” is an incredible shot-for-shot remake of Samwell’s video!

  • Holy crap, you’re right!

    I have to add a couple of extra genius points to this episode. And I’m still humming “what what in the butt”.


  • Kudos for including links. A few I wasn’t sure of like the panda.

    However, the gopher link is to the Crocker video again.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Cool Review & Thanks for the links.

    Only one thing… You forgot a link to the laughing baby. I don’t know where to find it on youtube.
    That Butters video is damn priceless & shows that South Park is still the best animated show around!

  • I actually think this season is weak compared to the others. Canada on strike was a better episode but the AIDS and (especially) Britney Spears spisodes were not very good. I want the remaining ones to be edgy and satrical – which is when they’re at their best.
    I am still waiting for this season’s ‘passion of the jew’ or ‘make love not warcraft’.

  • Now Brother Williams, tormenting your girl with the “Taco Flavored Kisses” song is just wrong. What kind of sick bastard are you, anyway? Why can’t you get your amusement from nice, decent shows like Everybody Loves Raymond?

  • Ah, Brother Barger… but “taco flavored kisses” is the sweetest of torments! We can’t drive by a Taco Bell without a couple of bars of “taco taco” coming out.

    The song that really gets my lovely girlfriend is “I’m So Ronery”. And for whatever reason, it seems to shuffle up on the ipod whenever we’re driving somewhere.

    Besides, when has Raymond come up with such a catchy little ditty… And while I won’t bag on Raymond because it’s a fine, fine sitcom in its own manner, musically it just falls short.