Warning: The following article may contain mature subject matter.
South Park’s latest season is continuing in its vein of topical and over-the-top episodes, giving new life to forgotten issues. In “The Magic Bush,” the show’s creators re-enact the events of Ferguson with drones as they analyse and make fun of the drone craze. Butters Stotch, the lovable boy with the Pollyana-ish outlook on life, makes the mistake of showing his dad’s new drone to Eric Cartman. True to his form as an instigator of trouble, Cartman spearheads a secret, nocturnal drone flight across the town of South Park. In the process, the boys find Craig’s mom undressing in her bedroom and catch sight of her pubic hair. That is where the trouble really begins.
Butters and Cartman have to find a way to hide their doings from Butters’ dad. Realizing that things have gone too far, Butters confronts his accomplice in the school bathroom. It is Cartman who comes up with the solution of downloading the video to the internet. “If we downloaded it off the internet then anyone could have done it,” he tells Butters. For the moment, it seems to work. But as more and more people watch the video, it creates a worrying problem of Freudian slips. In a Neighborhood Watch meeting, the parents of the community discuss what to do about drones. The leader of the meeting warns that if they do not do something soon, they will end up to their navel in bush… he means trouble. Craig’s mom launches into one of her many rants throughout the episode about the naturalness of pubic hair and how no one should be ashamed. No one seems to be listening to her, but they do find a solution to their problem.
The next day, drones with Neighborhood Watch banners on them start patrolling the neighborhood. Cartman stands at the bus stop thinking he and Butters have got away with it, but unbeknownst to him, Kyle was in the bathroom to hear that he had been party to the video. Kyle confronts Cartman, who is immediately incensed at being spied on. The irony escapes him completely. Kyle warns that this could all create a domino effect in which everything gets worse and worse. That is exactly what happens.
Craig’s parents go to the police who end up using their own drones to patrol the town. When a police drone confronts a Neighborhood Watch drone piloted by Randy Marsh, the civilian drone ends up being shot trying to run away. A news reporter notes that Marsh’s drone was unarmed but, what is worse, it was black. The similarities between the drone story and Ferguson will not be lost on anyone who pays attention to the news. The incident with the drones mirrors that of the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. From this point, the situation with the drones follows the same storyline that events in Ferguson did.
As drone owners try to mount a candlelight vigil, putting candles on top of their drones as they fly, the police drones tell them to disperse. One drone owner says that as long as they hover, the police cannot do anything to them, hearkening to the order that Ferguson protesters would be safe as long as they stood in one place. Rioting ensues with drones even being shown looting a television from an electronics store. The National Guard is sent in taking the form of camouflage drones. As the situation worsens, Butters and Cartman hatch another plan to save the day by using the one thing that started it all: Craig’s mom’s pubic hair.
The boys steal Butters’ father’s drone one last time and tie a blow up doll to it in imitation of Craig’s mother. They catch the attention of all the drones which are at a standoff and proceed to lead them away from the town. Much like the pied piper, the blow up doll makes everyone follow them until at last all the drones disappear. The plan seems to have worked. The very next scene is a tribute to Craig’s mom and her pubic hair, complete with a troubadour singing a song in her praise. When Butters notes that she is the only one who does not seem happy, Cartman says he has a plan. But Butters has learned the lesson of the domino effect and instead of agreeing, thanks Cartman for what he has done and puts an end to the cycle.
Recap By Lydia Bradbury