In the most recent season of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone turned their satirical eye on viral Internet videos. In the episode "Canada On Strike", the main characters try to create an Internet sensation so they can earn millions of dollars. What they learn instead is that the Internet is a wild (and in the show, deadly) frontier that nobody has mastered.
The episode’s masterstroke is the sweet and naïve Butters singing and dancing to a song “What What (In the Butt)”. The original “What What (In The Butt)” is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube – over 11 million views and counting. There is also a side-by-side comparison of the original video with the South Park copy, which reveals the close attention to detail that Parker and Stone paid to the source.
The original Samwell video was created by Bobby Ciraldo and Andrew Swant, who have a Milwaukee-based production company called Special Entertainment, with a subsidiary imprint, Brownmark Films. In addition to its YouTube success, the video was embraced by the blogosphere and many mainstream media outlets as well. The runaway Internet success of “What What (In The Butt)” put them squarely in the crosshairs of the Internet exploitation that South Park parodied, and in an interview, they reflect on the aftermath.
They also have a number of projects in the works. A new Samwell video is in the works, and their feature length project William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet is poised for release this summer. They can be reached via their website at Brownmark Films.
Before the episode of South Park aired, did Trey Parker and Matt Stone contact you for permission to parody the Samwell video? What was that process like?
We were completely surprised by the South Park homage — we were never contacted by anyone at South Park. We each had random friends call us up to say, "Dude! Your video is on South Park!"
Neither of us have cable so we had to run to our local bar - The Uptowner - they turned off the jukebox and turned on Comedy Central just for us. When Butters' "What What In the Butt" video came on we thought we were dreaming. We sent Trey and Matt a thank you email the next day but never heard back.
Are you South Park fans? How did you like Butters' version? Did Samwell appreciate it, too?