Episode 13: Anchors
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"Dances with Smurfs" is the thirteenth episode of the thirteenth season of the American animated television series South Park. The 194th overall episode of the series, it originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 11, 2009. In the episode, Eric Cartman becomes the reader of the elementary school announcements, and starts making politically charged accusations against student body president Wendy Testaburger. The episode was written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA L in the United States.
"Dances with Smurfs" serves as a parody of the political commentary style of Glenn Beck, a nationally syndicated radio show host and former Fox News Channel pundit. The episode also satirizes the 2009 James Cameron film Avatar, suggesting the plot of that film borrows heavily from the 1990 film Dances with Wolves, and comparing Avatar's blue aliens to the cartoon Smurfs. It also includes references to the Tea Party protests, radio personality Casey Kasem, and former-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
On the "EC" set the next morning a reluctant Wendy joins Cartman (who has his sideburns dyed gray in make-up) who promises he will stick to school-related questions and go easy on her. However, as soon as filming begins, he immediately asks about her rumoured promiscuity and involvement in the Smurf genocide. To Cartman's surprise, Wendy claims she indeed bulldozed Smurfland to get the valuable Smurfberries, but alludes that Cartman was involved with the plot, and that the Smurfs would have left Smurfland if Cartman had not integrated himself with them. She steps down as student body president, turning the title over to Cartman, and announces her own new book Going Rogue on the Smurfs. Cartman is angry that she has turned the tables on him and stolen his Smurf idea, particularly when she announces she sold the movie rights to filmmaker James Cameron, who turned the book into his new film, Avatar. With being the student body president, Cartman cannot do the morning announcements anymore because a student cannot hold both positions at the same time. Cartman, much to his anger, also learns that being the student body president is a meaningless position with no real power. The episode ends with Casey Miller reading the announcements, which include a student's letter of disgust for Cartman's performance as president, causing him to run out the room crying, "I'm doing the best I can!"
"Dances with Smurfs" was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA L in the United States. It first aired on November 11, 2009, in the United States on Comedy Central. The episode marked the final appearance of Gordon Stoltski, the third grade student who read the morning announcements for South Park Elementary. The day after "Dances with Smurfs" was originally broadcast, four T-shirts based on the episode were made available at South Park Studios, the official South Park website. All four featured Cartman wearing a suit and tie, saying a quote from the episode. These included "I'm not some dog on a leash", "We're in the poop box, my friends", "I'm a normal kid... I just ask questions", and "I ask questions".
Cartman's televised morning announcements are patterned after the Glenn Beck Program, using the same types of music and imagery, as well as a logo with the initials "EC" that closely resemble the logo of Beck's show, which use the initials "GB". Cartman also writes comments about Wendy on a blackboard, which is a prop often used by Beck on his television program. The day after "Dances with Smurfs" originally aired, Beck himself discussed the episode on his radio program. Beck said he had not watched the episode himself but took the parody as a compliment, and that he particularly enjoyed Cartman's hair, which was combed in a style similar to Beck. Steve "Stu" Burguiere, the executive producer of Beck's radio show, also complimented the episode, and