After reading my last post about The Sneetches and Other Stories my brother asked me if I’d seen the Dr. Seuss reference on South Park.
I’ve never been a big South Park fan, but I will readily admit that the writers, Tray Parker and Matt Stone, are very clever. They often show us the worst sides of ourselves so that we can reflect on why we do the things we do, rather than blindly following the crowd.
A great example of this is their use of Seuss in Season 16 Episode 13 titled A Scause for Applause. (Aired Oct. 31st, 2012)
If you’ve seen the episode feel free to scroll past the summary. The Seussian reference is only a small part of the plot.
Here is a Wikipedia plot synopsis of the overall episode:
“The town of South Park discontinues using their “What would Jesus do?” bracelets after learning that traces of performance-enhancing drugs and other illicit substances were found on the Shroud of Turin, leading to the conclusion that Jesus did not suffer for humanity’s sins or perform miracles of his own ability, but was merely under the influence of drugs. Stan Marsh, however, controversially refuses to take off his bracelet because he simply likes it and has had it for some time. Though he draws criticism, he also inspires a movement called “Stanground” whose adherents wear bracelets to express nonconformity, independence of thought and authenticity. The movement becomes so popular that Stan becomes a celebrity, and appears in a Nike commercial.
However, Stan is subsequently accused by French scientists of having removed his bracelet and gluing it back together. Though scientific tests confirm this, Stan continues to deny the allegation, labeling the matter a “witchhunt”. When Stan goes to the lead French scientist’s house to search for evidence to discredit him, he runs into Jesus, who is there for the same reason. Agreeing that the accusations against them distract the public from more relevant issues, such as the plight of farmers in Belarus, the two decide to raise awareness of that problem by going to the P.F. Pityef Bracelet Factory, where they learn, in a sequence featuring rhyme and animation in the style of Dr. Seuss, that such bracelets are called scauses. Orange ones are made for the Belarus campaign, which becomes the number one concern among the public.
Despite the scauses, the Belarusian farmers are slaughtered by their government. The public trades in their now-obsolete orange scauses for more timely ones, and after having profited from South Park consumers’ money, the scause manufacturer leaves town. After Jesus and Stan realize they were duped by the factory, Jesus consumes some human growth hormone, transforms into a monstrous, muscle-bound version of himself, and destroys the P.F. Pityef Bracelet Factory. After returning to normal, Jesus tells the public that causes should not be expressed on one’s wrists. Instead, he says, they should be expressed on T-shirts: revealing his shirt which reads, “FreePussy Riot“.
USE OF SEUSS:
Here is a YouTube.com link to the A Scause for Applause song/rhyme.
Here are the Lyrics to the Scause for Applause song:
“Well, of course, you came for a Scause to wear on your paws.
And you want others to wear yours upon thars.
“In the modern age there are those who believe
that a cause is thing to be worn on one sleeve.
And so, we sell a cause. It’s called a Scause.
And wearing a Scause gets you lots of applause.
We start with some plastic, which is schirped by our Schirpus
Then dip it in colors that show of your purpose.
There are green Scauses for recycling, blue Scauses for kitties,
And pink Scauses that focus on nothing but titties
Do you hate abortion? Ha! Then a white Scause is for you!
Why not champion your Scause with some sparkles and glue!
We make Scauses for this. We make Scauses for that.
Why there is evening a Scause for just being fat!
What’s the matter? Can’t think of a Scause?
How about raising awareness for the hairs in your Schnause?
Let’s just think of the thing that you care about most,
Then let’s make it orange like marmalade toast.
And now I’d like to say thank you for you coming down,
I’m off to go sell these in your little town!”
It is only a small section of the story, but for a Seuss fan it is packed full of witty criticism and great Seussian animation. The reference is a combination of The Sneetches and The Lorax (with just a touch of Oh! The Places You’ll Go in the balloon flying by.)
The visuals are mostly reflective of the Thneed Factory in The Lorax. Thneeds are something that everyone needs and they are made out of Truffla Trees. The overall message being that production of commercial products is ruining the environment. South Park doesn’t quite go with that message for their story, but they do a great job of capturing the art style.
The message of the South Park episode is more along the lines of The Sneetches; not the segregation or racism aspect of the story, but more of the being-scammed-by-a-salesman-because-we-are-ruled-by-the-mob-mantality-of-fashion aspect of the story.
The salesman in Scause for Applause rides in on a strange vehicle very much like Slyvester McMonkey McBean in The Sneetches. After a craze of mechanical confusion he rides out of town again with loads of money, leaving the suckers behind to learn their lesson.
Seuss is referenced in all kinds of media and often in ways that don’t stay true to his original message or art. This “use of Seuss” was so delightfully done that I felt the need to share it on this blog.
Thanks for reading,
Jack St. Rebor