The Ring (South Park): Wikis

  
  

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"The Ring"
South Park episode
KennyTammy.png
Kenny with his new girlfriend, Tammy.
Episode no. Season 13
Episode 1
Written by Trey Parker
Directed by Trey Parker
Production no. 1301
Original airdate March 11, 2009
Episode chronology
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"The Ring" is the thirteenth season premiere of the American animated television series South Park, and the 182nd overall episode of the series. It was originally broadcast on Comedy Central in the United States on March 11, 2009. In the episode, Kenny and his new girlfriend are encouraged by the Jonas Brothers to wear purity rings, which is secretly a marketing tactic by The Walt Disney Company to sell sex to young girls. Several reviewers and commentators praised the episode's satire of Disney marketing tactics, particularly through its portrayal of Mickey Mouse as a foul-mouthed, greedy, and physically violent company president.[1][2]

The episode was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker. It was rated TV-MA L and it was the first South Park episode to premiere in 16:9 and high-definition. The episode received generally positive reviews and, according to Nielsen ratings, was seen by 3.41 million households the week it was broadcast. The publicist for the Jonas Brothers specifically forbade reporters from asking the band about the episode, although members of the band have said they did not watch it.[3]

Contents

Plot

To the amazement of all the other boys, Kenny has a new girlfriend, fifth grader Tammy Warner. Butters hears a rumor that Tammy is a slut because she gave another male student a "B.J." in a T.G.I. Friday's parking lot, and Stan, Kyle, and Cartman, hoping to spare Kenny's feelings, decide to warn him. To his friends' bewilderment, Kenny's reaction is excitement and happiness. Kenny invites Tammy to go with him to T.G.I. Friday's after school, at which point she confesses that the rumor about her is true, but, not noticing his delight, explains that the only reason she did it was because she became aroused after watching the Jonas Brothers perform. Consequently, Kenny takes Tammy to a Jonas Brothers concert, with his friends disgusted by his intent; Cartman claims that "the most bacteria-ridden place on the planet is the mouth of an American woman."

After the concert, Tammy and several other girls are invited backstage, where they think the Jonas Brothers want to have sex with them. Instead, the Jonas Brothers convince them to wear purity rings as a pledge to abstinence and tell them to get all of their friends to start wearing them as well. To appease his girlfriend, Kenny reluctantly begins wearing a purity ring. As Kenny becomes dull as a result and ceases to spend time with his friends, it is revealed that the Jonas Brothers are being forced to wear and promote purity rings by their boss, a fearsome, greedy, sadistic, and foul-mouthed Mickey Mouse, who verbally berates and violently beats them when they complain that the rings are overshadowing their music and projecting the wrong message. Mickey explains that the rings allow him to sell sex to young girls while giving the appearance of innocence and purity. Concerned for their friend, Stan, Kyle, and Cartman attempt to confront the Jonas Brothers at a televised appearance in Denver, but Mickey, believing that the boys have been hired by DreamWorks or Michael Eisner to sabotage the televised appearance, tranquilizes them and takes them prisoner.

When the boys regain consciousness, they are backstage at the Jonas Brothers' 3D concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Mickey interrogates them and eventually threatens to kill them with a chainsaw, refusing to believe they were not hired by DreamWorks. As Mickey once again rants about his true intentions, this time insulting the Jonas Brothers' fans and Christians, Kyle stealthily turns on the microphone and Cartman raises the curtain, causing Mickey's rant to be heard by both the concert-goers and the national television audience. The crowd turns on Mickey and the Jonas Brothers leave the stage in a huff. Enraged by the crowd's boos and his marketing ploy exposed, Mickey grows to gigantic proportions and begins destroying Denver. Tammy and Kenny remove their purity rings, and Tammy suggests they go to T.G.I. Friday's, where she presumably plans to perform oral sex on him. The show immediately cuts to Kenny's funeral, where the audience learns that he contracted syphilis and died.

Production

"The Ring" was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker.[4] It was first broadcast on March 11, 2009 in the United States on Comedy Central, and was to be broadcast two days later on satellite Paramount Comedy in the United Kingdom.[5] It was the first episode of South Park's thirteenth season and the first episode to be broadcast in high-definition (HD).[6] On March 8, three days before the episode premiered, the script was only half-finished and the animation was not yet complete, in keeping with the practice of show creators Parker and Matt Stone to finish episodes upon last-minute deadlines; Stone said of the practice, "We don't do a live show, but we kind of harness some of that energy. We kind of need that to work. We're, like, 'We have to do something right now. It's going on the air in just a few minutes.'"[7] The Jonas Brothers characters were voiced by Parker and Stone, with Parker providing the voices for Kevin and Nick, and Stone voicing Joe, although the two switched characters on some lines. Parker also provides the voice of Mickey Mouse in "The Ring".[8]

Theme

Reviewers and commentators have described "The Ring" as not just a parody of the Jonas Brothers, but also of the ethos of the Walt Disney Company.[1][2][9] The episode portrays Disney as a corporation using the ruse of family-friendly morals to disguise their primary motive, which is profit; reviewers and articles said this point is further illustrated by the use of Mickey Mouse, a cartoon symbol for the wholesome Disney image, as a foul-mouthed, contemptuous, greedy, all-powerful and violent character.[1][2] Specifically, the episode targets Disney's marketing tactic of the band members pledging abstinence through purity rings, which the script suggests is used to subliminally sell sex to young girls, while simultaneously appeasing the ethical standards of their parents and taking advantage of their fearful desire to protect their daughters, as Mickey had said. The episode further illustrates the greed of corporate culture by portraying Mickey as capitalizing on religion for profit, while secretly mocking it in a particularly cruel tone: "I've made billions off of Christian ignorance for decades now! And do you know why? Because Christians are retarded! They believe in a talking dead guy!"[1]

The episode also encourages young people not to suppress their sexual urges[citation needed] by suggesting Kenny, Tammy and the other children characters should not wear their purity rings and simply act as normal children; "The Ring" ends with a tongue-in-cheek cautionary message against engaging in oral sex, depicting Kenny's death from a sexually transmitted disease in the final moments of the episode.[2] When asked whether Stone really believed purity rings were "lame", as they were portrayed in "The Ring", he said, "Well, I don't know. I didn't have one in high school, and I was still lame."[7]

Cultural references

The Jonas Brothers (above) were prominently featured in "The Ring" (below).

The Jonas Brothers are parodied in "The Ring" and play a prominent role in the episode's plot. In a television column written before "The Ring" was broadcast, Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post suggested Parker and Stone were using the Jonas Brothers in the thirteenth season debut as a means of improving the show's ratings; Comedy Central executives insisted Jonas Brothers fans do not fit into South Park's demographic of males between the ages 18 and 49.[10] The Walt Disney Company, the Disney Channel and the Mickey Mouse cartoon character are also prominently featured, and spoofed, in the episode;[1] even when Mickey Mouse says callous things or physically assaults people, he follows up most statements with the character's trademark high-pitched "Ha ha!" laugh, which in context comes off like a nervous tic.[2]

The show Grey's Anatomy is mocked in "The Ring"; Kenny and Tammy, and the other characters who wear purity rings, develop a strong affinity for the show as they become more boring. Those characters also frequently watch movies from Netflix, the popular online DVD rental service; the company is referenced in one of the episode's fictional Jonas Brothers songs: "Who needs sex and drugs and partying when we can cook a meal and sit around and watch Netflix? 'Baybay'"[2] T.G.I. Friday's, a real-life American restaurant chain, is referenced several times as the place where Tammy gave her ex-boyfriend a blow job. A can of Dr. Pepper appears repeatedly in the South Park Elementary cafeteria; David Hiltgrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer said of the product placement, "I never thought I'd see this type of crass commercialism turn up on South Park, which may be the most brazenly iconoclastic show TV has ever seen."[11] At Kenny's funeral, while discussing Kenny's death and dangers of sex, Kyle says, '"Well, now we know", to which Cartman replies, "And knowing is half the battle." Cartman's line is a verbatim parody of the famous slogan from the 1980s cartoon G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

Reception

In its original American broadcast, "The Ring" was watched by 3.41 million overall households, according to the Nielsen ratings, making it the second most-watched Comedy Central production of the week, behind the Comedy Central Roast of Larry the Cable Guy, which was seen by 4.08 million households. "The Ring" outperformed the March 11 and 12 episodes of The Daily Show, which received wide media coverage due to an ongoing feud between Daily Show host Jon Stewart and CNBC pundit Jim Cramer, who was a guest in the latter episode.[12]

The thirteenth season premiere received generally positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly writer Ken Tucker gave the episode a positive review, showing approval of Kenny's misadventure, saying "thus did South Park ultimately come down on the side of religion and sexual freedom, with lots of big laughs in the bargain.... Trey and Matt are off to a great 13th-season start."[13] James Poniewozik of Time said "The Ring" was better than any of the twelfth season episodes. Poniewozik said the episode, "demonstrated that the cartoon is best when it focuses on the four kids and when it is driven by a white-hot moral fury". Travis Fickett of IGN also particularly applauded the Disney satire, which he said, "elevates this beyond shock humor and into sharp satire." IGN gave the episode an 8.4 score out of 10.[2]

Brad Trechak of TV Squad called "The Ring" a highlight of the season.[14] Josh Modell of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A- grade, although he said it tended to become "heavy-handed" with its moral near the end. Modell said he particularly liked the reactions from the young girls at the Jonas Brothers concert, Kenny's enthusiastic response to his girlfriend's promiscuity and the line from the Jimmy Vulmer character: "If you guys found out my girlfriend was a raging whore, I’d want you to tell me."[15] In its list of top television moments for the week, TV Guide listed as number seven a line of dialogue from "The Ring" spoken by Butters: "A ring that says you'll be together but not have sex. Isn't that called a wedding ring?"[16]

Sonny Bunch of The Washington Times said, "The episode was both funny and smart, a wry commentary on the inherent trickiness of marketing a rebellious art form infused with sexuality to children who have no business being sexually active themselves."[17] Tamar Anitai, a blogger for MTV, said the episode was "hilarious". He said "The South Park writers actually appeared to sympathize, if not side with, the Jonas Brothers ... In the end, Disney and Christianity ended up getting a far more severe skewering than the Jonas Brothers."[18] Alan Sepinwall, television writer for The Star-Ledger, said he thought the Mickey Mouse character was used as an effective satirical device for corporate greed, but said he was not particularly impressed with the overall episode because "its targets — the Jonas Brothers, and the Disney company for using them to sell sex to little girls with impunity — were so easy to hit".[19] In contrast, L. Brent Bozell III, founder of the Parents Television Council (PTC), criticized the episode for such elements,[20] and the PTC named this episode the "Worst Cable Content of the Week".[21]

According to a news report by Canwest News Service, the Jonas Brothers' publicist specifically forbade reporters from asking the band members about the South Park episode.[22] Nick Jonas told the Orlando Sentinel that the band had not seen the episode: "We are always open to make fun of ourselves. 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."[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Poniewozik, James (2009-03-12). "Is South Park the Most Moral Show on TV?". Time. http://tunedin.blogs.time.com/2009/03/12/is-south-park-the-most-moral-show-on-tv/. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Fickett, Travis (2009-03-12). "South Park: "The Ring" Review – The Jonas Bros. come to Colorado, ruin Kenny's would-be sex life". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/961/961804p1.html. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b Abbott, Jim (2009-03-18). "Jonas Brothers talk about tour, TV show and the fans". Orlando Sentinel. http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_music_blog/2009/03/jonas-brothers-talk-about-tour-tv-show-and-the-fans.html. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  4. ^ "Episode guide". South Park Studios. http://www.southparkstudios.com/guide/1301/. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  5. ^ "South Park takes on the Jonas brothers", In the News, 2009-03-12, http://www.inthenews.co.uk/infocus/entertainment/tv/south-park-takes-on-jonas-brothers-$1279745.htm, retrieved 2009-03-12 
  6. ^ Parker, Billy (2009-02-15), Simpsons Take a New Route Back to the Couch in HD, Gothamist, http://gothamist.com/2009/02/15/simpsons_take_a_new_route_back_to_t.php, retrieved 2009-03-13 
  7. ^ a b Morrow, Terry (2009-03-12), Morrow TV: Looking at 'South Park' ... Other shows of note, Scripps Howard News Services, http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/41654, retrieved 2009-03-12 
  8. ^ "FAQ - FAQ Archive - February 2010". South Park Studios. February 21, 2010. http://www.southparkstudios.com/fans/faq/archives.php?month=1&year=2010. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  9. ^ Flanagan, Ben (2009-05-01). "Ben Around: "South Park: on a roll". The Tuscaloosa News (Tuscaloosa, Alabama). http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20090501/NEWS/904309962/1005?Title=BEN-AROUND-South-Park-on-a-roll. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  10. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (2009-03-10), "The TV Column: Will 'South Park' Get a Population Boost When the Jonas Brothers Come to Town?", The Washington Post: C07, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/09/AR2009030902785.html?hpid=news-col-blog 
  11. ^ Hiltbrand, David (2009-03-20). "Dave on Demand: The television week in review". The Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/240/story/611088.html. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  12. ^ Seidman, Robert (2009-03-17). "WWE RAW, Cars, Hannah Montana and SpongeBob Lead Weekly Cable Viewing". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/03/17/wwe-raw-cars-hannah-montana-and-spongebob-lead-weekly-cable-viewing/14680. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  13. ^ Tucker, Ken (2009-03-11). "'South Park' saves the Jonas Brothers' souls". Entertainment Weekly. http://watching-tv.ew.com/2009/03/12/south-park-jona/. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  14. ^ Trechak, Brad (March 15, 2010). "'South Park' Will Skewer Tiger Woods". TV Squad. http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/03/15/south-park-will-skewer-tiger-woods/. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  15. ^ Modell, John (2009-03-11), "The Ring", The A.V. Club, http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-ring,25005/, retrieved 2009-03-13 
  16. ^ "TVGuide.com's Top Moments of the Week: Purity Rings, Reunions and Revenge", TV Guide, 2009-03-13, http://www.tvguide.com/News/Clooney-ER-30-1003997.aspx, retrieved 2009-03-13 
  17. ^ Bunch, Sonny (2009-03-20). "Analysis: Jonas Bros. shun clean image". The Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/20/think-piece-jonas-brothers-shy-away-from-clean-ima/. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  18. ^ Anitai, Tamar (2009-03-12). "Was the Jonas Brothers "South Park" episode really that bad?". MTV. http://buzzworthy.mtv.com/2009/03/12/was-the-jonas-brothers-south-park-episode-really-that-bad/. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  19. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (2009-03-12), "South Park, "The Ring": The power of mice compels you", The Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/index.ssf/2009/03/south_park_the_ring_the_power.html, retrieved 2009-03-12 
  20. ^ Bozell, L. Brent III (2009-03-19). "South Park vs. Purity". Creators Syndicate. http://www.mediaresearch.org/BozellColumns/entertainmentcolumn/2009/col20090319.asp. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  21. ^ "South Park on Comedy Central". The Worst Cable Content of the Week. Parents Television Council. 2009-03-20. http://parentstv.org/PTC/cable/2009/0320.asp. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  22. ^ Sperounes, Sandra (2009-03-13). "Can life get any more awesome? Yes, if you're one of the Jonas Brothers.". Canwest News Service. http://www.canada.com/life+more+awesome+Jonas+Brothers/1386982/story.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 

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