Over two decades and hundreds of episodes, South Park has lampooned everything from global warming to gun control to gentrification to 9/11. Nothing is off-limits for the show. The series is a hard-hitting satirical powerhouse with no clear political agenda. Its creators, writers, and stars, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, identify as libertarians, but they don’t let their political leanings influence their creation. Their comedy parodies both the far left and the far right leanings of politics.
The show has taken on Tom Cruise, Rob Reiner, Steven Spielberg, Kanye West, Paris Hilton, George Lucas, Mel Gibson, and many more. In the 200th episode, these mocked celebrities all swarmed the town to wreak their vengeance, but of course, in the end, South Park wins.
Now, that season 21 has opened with a parody of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” here are the fifteen greatest times celebrities were trolled on South Park.
15. Rob Schneider
The episode “The Biggest Douche in the Universe,” about the phoniness of TV psychics like John Edward, came about when the entire South Park team came to the mutual agreement that Edward was “the biggest douche in the universe.” So, they started making an episode about him, and then Matt Stone asked, “Well, what about Rob Schneider?”
That’s when they decided to throw in a running gag of trailers for crappy Rob Schneider movies. When they made the episode, Schneider had The Hot Chick coming out and he’d just starred in The Animal. It seemed his starring vehicles all had the same basic storyline: a man is transformed into something and wacky antics ensue.
And thus were born the Schneider comedy gold classics, The Stapler, The Carrot, and Da Derp De Derp Da Teetley Derpee Derpee Dumb. Schneider himself enjoyed the parody: “I loved it. That was genius. I thought the only thing, they were too nice to me…When you’re spoofed by the best people in the business, that’s an honor.”
14. Tom Cruise
In the episode “Trapped in the Closet,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone took on the religion — well, cult — of Scientology and how dumb it is. They parodied Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and R. Kelly in the episode.
But the reason Cruise sticks out is because the rumors of his homosexuality are addressed when he locks himself in Stan’s closet and refuses to come out. And not only that, Cruise apparently had a tantrum in real life.
He reportedly threatened to pull out of his promotional tour for Mission: Impossible III if Viacom — the parent company that also owns Comedy Central — allowed “Trapped in the Closet” to be broadcast. Of course, South Park won (again).
13. Barbra Streisand
Way, way back in South Park’s early days, back in its first ever season, they did an episode called “Mecha-Streisand” in which Barbra Streisand is a horrible, snobbish woman who turns into a giant robot and fights Robert Smith.
While Smith had a highly positive response — he said that “of all the things I’ve done, all the people I’ve met, it all counts for nothing compared to being on South Park” — Streisand had a less than positive reaction.
“I wonder if shows like South Park and Beavis and Butthead don’t add to the cynicism and negativity in our culture, especially in children, ” the diva reportedly said. “These youngsters are formulating their attitudes and maybe they come away feeling that any woman who dares to accomplish something is the incarnation of self-centeredness and greed. And that would be very unfortunate, especially for young girls.”
12. Sally Struthers
A lot of people misunderstand the Sally Struthers parody in South Park. Many viewers see it as Trey Parker and Matt Stone picking on her for being overweight. Yes, she is portrayed as being gluttonous and designed to look like Jabba the Hutt.
But they’re not solely making fun of her weight. It’s the irony of the overweight Struthers going on TV and pleading for food donations for the starving and needy people of Africa. They ironically pointed out that she clearly eats a lot of food while working with charities that feed the starving. It wasn’t intended to be entirely mean-spirited.
Struthers took it that way though and her feelings were hurt.
11. Richard Dawkins
Evolution poster boy Richard Dawkins was the target of ridicule in “Go God Go,” South Park’s two-part half-evolution/Bible debate half-Buck Rogers homage episode. In it, Dawkins appears at South Park Elementary when Ms. Garrison refuses to teach the un-Christian evolution.
He’s very taken by her beauty and invites her out to dinner, where he convinces her that God is a spaghetti monster. They later have lots of nasty sex. Dawkins himself objected very much to his portrayal in the episode.
He disliked “being portrayed as a cartoon character buggering a bald transvestite,” and added “somebody throwing shit, which stuck to my forehead – that’s not even funny.” Yes, it is, Richard. Yes, it is.
10. James Cameron
South Park mocked the deep sea explorations of director James Cameron in their Emmy Award-winning episode “Raising the Bar.” There’s not much to say about Cameron’s deep sea dives other than that it’s a strange hobby for him to have and something that he thinks is cool that isn’t actually very cool at all.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed this by giving him a corny — albeit catchy — theme song to accompany his adventures. “His name is James Cameron, the bravest pioneer. No budget too steep, no sea too deep. Who’s that? It’s him! James Cam-e-ron.”
And they gave him a painfully egocentric speech at the end: “James Cameron doesn’t do what James Cameron does for James Cameron. James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Cameron is…James Cameron.” Amen to that.
9. Jonas Brothers
South Park’s animators nailed the way the Jonas Brothers dance and prance around the stage perfectly. They nailed their soft lyrical style and the inflections in their singing. The cherry on top is when Mickey Mouse busts down the door and starts beating the crap out of them.
Parker was inspired to write an episode about the band when a Comedy Central employee told him she took her little daughter to see the Jonas Brothers concert movie. Apparently, her daughter said, “”Mommy, my giney tickles.”
This was also where the wider themes of the Walt Disney Company using purity rings to get away with selling sex to young girls came from, and that’s just food for thought. Maybe that is what it’s all about. Nick Jonas said, “For us, we’re so focused on what we’re doing with this tour and our album, we didn’t have much time to see it.”
Well, good for you, Nick.
8. Donald Trump
Whereas South Park usually only spends one or maybe two episodes parodying an individual, they’ve now spent two whole seasons making fun of Trump. He just keeps giving them material.
When he first began his bid for president, the writers made Mr. Garrison their surrogate Trump, because no one thought he would even get the nomination, let alone the presidency. But then the campaign kept going, he got the nomination, and then the election came halfway through the airing of season 20.
So, they were stuck with Garrison becoming President, despite his best attempts to sabotage his own campaign — as was a theory with Trump last November. But there have been some truly inspired parody moments that blend the characterizations of both Mr. Garrison and President Trump, like his “stank face” and his catchphrase, “Oh, geez!”
And there have been great references, too, like the scene from Star Wars when Darth Vader’s helmet is lowered onto his head, except the helmet is substituted for Trump’s blond hairpiece. This makes two jokes with one scene — that Trump wears a rug and that he’s an evil dark overlord.
Parker and Stone plan to distance themselves from the Trump stuff in season 21, but hopefully it’ll still be there in at least small doses.
7. Britney Spears
In “Britney’s New Look,” the South Park team went the other way. They usually pick out a celebrity they don’t like and produce an episode that showcases what’s wrong with them.
With Britney Spears though, they portrayed her in a sympathetic light and rather used her to point out what is wrong with the tabloid press as they mercilessly follow her around like Body Snatchers. The episode came right during Spears’ breakdown. But instead of shaving her head, she blows it off with a shotgun.
But the tabloid papers ignore the tragic suicide attempt and instead focus on her muffin top and camel toe. The reveal at the end — that it’s part of a huge conspiracy across America to sacrifice Spears in a brutal blood harvest — is truly unnerving and terrifying.
Oh, and they pick the next harvest victim as Miley Cyrus, and the episode was broadcast a full half a decade before Cyrus went from Disney sweetheart to scantily-clad rebel on a wrecking ball. So kudos to Trey and Matt for predicting that.
6. Jennifer Lopez
“Fat Butt and Pancake Head” was one of the strangest episodes that South Park ever done. It features Cartman drawing a face on his hand and putting a wig on it and pretending it’s Jennifer Lopez. It’s not quite clear whether or not his hand is actually conscious on its own or just Eric up to his old tricks.
Either way, his squawky Latina voice gets hired by a record label and attracts Ben Affleck’s infamous wandering eye. After the episode aired, according to Trey Parker, he and Matt Stone heard nasty bits about Jennifer Lopez on movie sets.
He reportedly said she kept getting mad and firing crew members who poked fun at her saying, “Ooh, tacos, I love tacos…” But she couldn’t fire enough of them as “she kept hearing it in the distance.”
5. Russell Crowe
The Russell Crowe spoof in South Park is an odd one. He stars in a TV show called Russell Crowe Fightin’ Around the World in which he sings songs and travels around the world on a boat called Tugger to beat up random people.
Crowe does this a lot in real life apparently. He beats up his fans who recognize him on the street and yells,“I’m the greatest actor in the world,” at crew members on the sets of his movies. In the episode, his life becomes a reality show.
The actual Russell Crowe invited Stone and Parker to his house to listen to his “demo tape.” It turned out to be a full album he wanted them to listen to in its entirety. Appearing on 60 Minutes, Crowe responded to the parody by saying, “I think they are very, very funny men, and I wish them godspeed, and I hope they continue to do what they’re doing.”
4. Paris Hilton
Trey Parker and Matt Stone clearly take issue with what Paris Hilton did to society. She’s since been replaced by Kim Kardashian as the public figure ruining each successive generation of young women.
Parker and Stone lamented the fact that at the time they made the Paris Hilton episode, instead of looking up to the Eleanor Roosevelts and the Malalas of the world, young girls were aspiring to be a “stupid, spoiled whore.”
There are a lot of dark and shocking scenes in the episode, from Hilton coughing up semen at the opening of her store to her little pet dog killing herself to Mr. Slave besting the socialite in a “whore-off.”
“Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” has to be one of the most brutal celebrity parodies South Park has ever done. Parker and Stone left no stone unturned in their attack on Hilton.
3. Michael Jackson
Sorry, I mean Michael Jefferson. The South Park episode “The Jeffersons” is a satire goldmine. For starters, the allegations that Michael Jackson was molesting children when he invited them to sleep over at his house fit in perfectly with the idea of him moving to South Park and inviting the boys to sleep over.
Characteristically, Stan and Kyle, acting as the voices of reason, could see that Blanket was in danger with such a crazy father. Cartman though saw a grown man with a cotton candy machine who wanted to be his friend and blindly fall in love with him.
They also managed to get in a parody of Jackson’s skin-altering operation by satirizing the “damn fine police work” of framing rich black people. Trey Parker and Matt Stone gave us all the sides of the story. Maybe Michael Jackson did just want to have fun and enjoy the childhood he missed out on.
Jackson also returned to the show when he passed away and possessed Ike’s body to tie up some loose ends. And again, a couple of years later, in the form of a hologram.
2. Mel Gibson
The Mel Gibson parody in South Park’s “The Passion of the Jew” was some kind of stroke of genius. They spend the whole episode focused on the national hysteria that resulted from his Biblical epic, The Passion of the Christ. How it converted people, revitalized the faith of many and wreaked its violence on others.
And then they remind you that the movie was made by Mel Gibson. The movie that everyone’s arguing over was directed by a so-called lunatic. They graft Gibson’s actual face onto a naked animated body and make various references to Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, and Mad Max. Only Trey Parker and Matt Stone would’ve thought to do it. It was hilarious.
1. Kanye West
There have been a lot of celebrities parodied on South Park, but none more savagely than Kanye West in the episode “Fishsticks.” The main crux of the episode is that a joke written by Cartman and Jimmy — well, just Jimmy, really, but let’s not start on that — is sweeping the nation and Kanye West is the only person in America who doesn’t get it.
This isn’t something that happened in real life, but it was a great platform to target Kanye’s weaknesses for comedy. He spends the whole episode stroking his ego, referring to himself as a genius, and getting irrationally angry — just like in real life!
With the help of his cronies, he murders Carlos Mencia. Fun fact: Trey Parker found that to autotune the “Gay Fish” song at the end and get the desired Kanye West effect, he had to sing out of tune.