South Park: the 'Butt Out' episode

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In December 2003, Comedy Central broadcast an episode of South Park which mercilessly satirised the anti-smoking movement. What follows is a transcript of what the show's creators - Trey Parker and Matt Stone - had to say about it. This comes from the director's commentary on the DVD (now available in the UK - Series 7). The episode can be viewed in full here. If that doesn't work, try this. There is a good interview with Parker and Stone in this Reason magazine article.

TP: This episode is called 'Butt Out' and it's basically about Rob Reiner and smoking laws. And this episode is kinda the one a lot of people point to - a lot of reporters and stuff - when they say that we're 'conservative'. It's sad that there's something conservative about being against these smoking laws, but this is one of those episodes because we kind of rip on Rob Reiner. Some of you might not know that Rob Reiner is really into politics here in California. He put some ballot on the measure that raised taxes on cigarettes by fifty cents or something. And so we were sort of into calling him fat basically.

MS: That was our rebuttal!

TP: That "you're fat, and you're full of goo!" (laughs) And it's really too bad because one the most influential movies on me as a kid was Spinal Tap.

MS: Oh, yeah!

TP: And I think that's the one that got me into playing music and using music for comedy.

MS: He's done other great movies too. The Princess Bride. And Stand By Me. And Misery.

TP: And then he decided to take all that and turn his energy into ruining people's good times. And understand that neither Matt or I are smokers. I've never been a smoker.

MS: I used to smoke but I quit well before we did this episode.

TP: We'd go to bars though, and my parents smoke and I know people that smoke and our point is that there's a lot of people for whom a cigarette is about the only vacation they have. That's the fun they get to have. Not everyone is like Rob Reiner and gets to go to the Bahamas for three months and have fun. Also, it just seems super-ridiculous for a man that weighs about 600 pounds to going around be worrying about his health from someone else's cigarette smoke. They're no doubt that dude was going to die of a coronary disease well before someone's secondhand smoke was (sic).

MS: Secondhand smoke has been the most overwrought...

TP: People now think that if they get any cigarette smoke in their face they might get cancer and it's just fucking ridiculous how bad people have been sold on that. And when I go to a bar or to a party - even though I don't smoke - I hang out in the smoking section because that's where all the fucking cool people are.

MS: It's kinda true.

TP: Do you wanna hang out with your parents and accountants in the nonsmoking section or do you want to hang out with Slash? (laughs)

MS: Slash is in the smoking section. Who do you want to hang out with?!

TP: It's the same old argument about extremes. It's totally great if you don't smoke and you don't want to smoke but as soon as you go around being mighty and righteous about not smoking and telling everyone else how lame they are for doing it - go fuck yourself!

MS: You can't smoke on the beaches in California now, in LA! And you can't smoke in parks.

TP: It really bummed me out. When it happened in LA it's like, oh well, that's LA, that makes sense, there's a lot of...y'know...but now...

MS: It's going happen everywhere.

TP: New York. London! London was crazy.

MS: No. London hasn't happened yet. It happens next year. But it's gonna happen.

TP: But Italy...

MS: Italy it happened. Ireland it happened. It'll happen everywhere. Except maybe Vegas.

TP: And again, the problem - and I guess this is why we're "conservatives",


TP: ...because our opinion is: If I want to have a bar, and I want my bar to be a smoking bar then I should be allowed to do that. And I want smokers to come to my bar. They'll be a big sign on the door saying 'This is a smoking bar. If you don't like smoking, don't come in this bar'. Why can't I do that? And that's being a conservative! And so colour me a conservative.

MS: I'm a conservative! I just don't think that every time you get annoyed by something or irritated by something you should run to the government and try to make a law. It's the perfect tyranny of the majority - which the Constitution is supposed to protect us against - because most people who don't smoke are annoyed by cigarette smoke. So what you do is give people the option of "Hey! Do you want to get rid of cigarette smoke?" And all those people go "Yeah. Fuck the smokers" but it's really not fair because actually most of the people who go to bars probably smoke.

TP: When's the last time Rob Reiner was in a fucking bar?

MS: Yeah. It's just so fucking lame. He's at Pizza Hut all night or in his big house in Malibu or on his big yacht in the Bahamas. There's people in working class bars all around where we live and it's all they want is a beer and a smoke to cool off from their day and Rob Reiner's like (stupid voice) "No!"

TP: (also stupid voice) "Oh no you don't!"

MS: So we filled him full of goo and made him fat but we still like some of his movies.

TP: Not too many that he's done lately.

MS: It's just too bad he can't do anything good.