arlier this year, a sound clip from the South Park episode “The Tale of Scrotie Mcboogerballs” started making the rounds on TikTok. The clip portrays everyone’s favorite naive child Butter’s iconic line, “Kill John Lennon. KILL JOHN LENNON!”. The episode the line comes from aired over 10 years ago as part of 2010’s season 14 of the long-running series.
What caused the sudden resurgence? Why were random TikTok users using the sound over wide-eyed, surprised video clips of their pets? In order to discover the meaning behind South Park’s “Kill John Lennon” comeback, we first need to understand what the context is for the original sound.
In “The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”, the South Park cast is dismayed to discover that The Catcher in the Rye, a book that has been banned multiple times, doesn’t have as much questionable content as they had hoped. In response, they resolve to write a book of their own book, one that will have all of the grossness that The Catcher in the Rye should have had: The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs.
However, unlike the other members of the cast, young Leopold “Butters” Stotch has an adverse reaction to reading the entirety of The Catcher in the Rye. Upon his completion of the book, Butters utters the infamous lines “Kill John Lennon. KILL JOHN LENNON!”, mirroring the effects the book supposedly had on John Lennon’s assassin in real life, Mark David Chapman. Butters’ murderous goal continues until his father informs him that John Lennon had been assassinated years ago, breaking the trance the book placed on him.
Fortunately for Butters, the other boys of South Park fear that they’ll get in trouble for writing The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs, so they frame Butters for penning the manuscript. Due to his previous black out, Butters believes that he could have written the book in his sleep or in his trance-like state. This leads to the child becoming a mega-successful author of “the most foul, disgusting, sickening book ever written”, and also “literary genius”.
The episode comes full circle when The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs inspires someone to assassinate the Kardashians in the same way The Catcher in the Rye Inspired Mark David Chapman to assassinate John Lennon.
The reason the clip from this episode went viral is unfortunately not as complex or thoughtful as some might hope. The sound being played over clips of users’ pets making faces of surprise was meant to “test” whether or not they were sleeper agent assassins like Butters had become in the episode.
Whether the sound was actually played to cause the reaction from the pets, or if the sound was added after the clip was filmed is ultimately unclear, and probably varies from TikTok to TikTok. It does, however, make for a very entertaining trend while also bringing back a decade-old episode of South Park that might be considered one of the best in some fans’ minds, thanks to its expert satirization of the perceived effects of banned books.