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South Park Pokes Fun at Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Vaccination Link

By amywindsor |

What's all the fuss over a few ass burgers?

In case you were wondering if Asperger’s was still considered an obscure condition that relatively few know about or understand: Wonder no more. Asperger’s Syndrome has officially entered the American mainstream through South Park.

After being gently and intelligently explored on the show Parenthood, through the story of Max, it will be interesting to see how the more crass portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome will be received by the autism community.

Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized, among other things, by awkward social behavior and a bluntness in verbal interactions brought about by an inability to empathize with others. South Park creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, known for their irreverent humor (to say the very least) tackled those aspects of Asperger’s along with the mistaken belief by some, despite no proven medical links, that autism can be caused by vaccinations.

The episode, titled “Ass Burgers”, can be viewed here. It is typically crude and plays on the fact that Asperger’s sounds like, you guessed it, “ass burgers.”  One of the kids is diagnosed with it by the school psychologist, who determines the recent school flu vaccinations to be the culprit, after he starts to display the anti-social behavior of thinking that pretty much everything in life sucks.

I’ll save you the time of watching the mostly unfunny episode by letting you in on the central joke: After a doctor declares, “Asperger’s is serious, but unfortunately because of its name people think its a disease to be made fun of.” we find out that the disease isn’t real. “If there was a social development disease, you wouldn’t call it Asperger’s! That’s just mean!” and is actually a front for people who are not under an evil Matrix-like pall over humanity that forces people to find movies like “Zookeeper 3: Zookeepier” awesomely entertaining. ”Where other people see fun movies and hear music, all you see and hear is sh**,” as the Morphius-like doctor explains.

I found the episode to be not that great, but thought it was interesting in that it brings mainstream attention to an illness that is difficult to understand, but is being diagnosed more and more frequently. I also appreciate that an effort is being made to make the idea that vaccinations may cause autism seem as outlandish as it is in real life.

Do you think the Asperger’s community is ready to laugh at itself or do you think the crude depiction (and it was offensive, depicting men peeing on walls, and other over-the-top “crazy” behavior) makes the stigma more difficult to overcome?

Photo Credit: South Park Studios

Read more posts by Amy Windsor aka @theBitchinWife:
Humorous Toddler Tshirts: Merely Inappropriate to Downright Offensive
JC Penney Insults Girls’ Intelligence With Dumb T-Shirt
A New Theory Contributes the Rise of Autism to How People Marry

More on Babble

About amywindsor



Amy Windsor is an avid mommy blogger whose blog, Bitchin' Wives Club, was named one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs in 2012. She was a contributor to Babble's Parenting channels.

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16 thoughts on “South Park Pokes Fun at Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Vaccination Link

  1. Little frogs says:

    Actually, I thought it was funny.

  2. mama b says:

    It sounds funny to me, I think that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are pretty genius when it comes to pop culture and depicting it’s ridiculousness.

  3. Diana says:

    My son turned the TV to South Park last night to catch the episode… I know too many kids that were injured by their vaccines to find that funny…. yes, neurological disorders caused by direct injections of mercury with no legal liability. The flu shot is at the top of my list… second only to HEP B shots 12 hours after birth… of what I would NOT inject into my baby.

  4. mbaker says:

    My son has Aspergers and it doesn’t bother me at all.

  5. Little frogs says:


    I am absolutely amazed to hear that you know “too many kids that were injured by their vaccines” since I’ve never met one.

    I’ve met parents who blamed their child’s autism on vaccines but there’s zero evidence supporting that and we know the jerk who put forth that belief falsified his data.

    Precisely how many do you know and how do you know they were injured by their vaccines?

  6. Joe says:

    How funny! Did they also show a kid having a seizure and stop breathing? How about a 14 year old running off into the middle of traffic while their parents are screaming frantically for them to stop? How about a 20 year old that can’t talk, read or write? Any pictures of one of these cute little characters smearing their feces on their bedroom wall? How about a kid not sleeping for a week straight and keeping the entire family up? Have any of you ever even seen a kid with regressive autism? What goes around comes around!

  7. daria says:

    They make fun of everyone and everything on that show. Sometimes it’s smart social satire, and often it’s just idiotic. To be offended by this one episode seems rather odd.

  8. 3rdDegree says:

    “Any pictures of one of these cute little characters smearing their feces on their bedroom wall?”

    well… this being South Park – I’d say yes…

  9. K says:

    Thank you Little Frogs for saying exactly what I came on here to say.

  10. goddess says:

    Mine suffered severe cortical atrophy, spastic quadriparesis type, with non-verbal, non ambulatory, had severe g-e reflux and gastritis, needed 2 hip surgeries, the least being an osteotomy in which he contracted sepsis and died. The vaccine damage was documented by his doctors, specialists and one of the best rated children’s hospitals in the country, CT sans, MRI scans, EEGs, etc. This was from the DTP vaccine (whole cell) given in 1987.
    While rare, vaccine damage is real and this particular adverse effect was even listed on the package insert.

  11. Ashley says:

    I haven’t seen the episode yet, though I did see that Glee recently introduced a character who has Asperger’s. I have a good friend who has Asperger’s, so I’m familiar with the characteristics. We’ve haven’t talked about this or any other show that directly addresses autism, so I don’t know how she feels about it. I’m not really sure how I feel about it either. My biggest concern is that shows like this may perpetuate misconceptions about autism. The symptoms of autism vary widely, which is why there is an autism spectrum. People who are autistic express symptoms in a variety of ways, and some may be more severe than others. For example, my friend functions very well in the world. She is highly educated, has a full-time job, lives on her own, is active in the community, and has lots of friends. Other autistic people may not be able to do all these things, at least not without assistance.

  12. Little frogs says:

    Ashley, one of the show’s main characters, Kyle, was inappropriately diagnosed with Asperger’s and the perennially clueless school counselor blamed it on the flu vaccine. They did not make fun of people with autism and the only people they showed with autism turned out not to actually have autism but to be faking it as part of a conspiracy (a la crab people o rthe Obama/McCain conspiracy). So I don’t see how it could perpetuate misconceptions.

    Aspergers does sound like Assburgers and it was this observation which led Cartman into selling hamburgers that had sat in his underpants.

  13. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    “yes, neurological disorders caused by direct injections of mercury with no legal liability.” That’s a fairy tale, not an episode of South Park.

  14. Aurastar "Princess" Taijiya says:

    I laughed and I have Asperger’s.
    It’s a TV show, get a life. xD

  15. southparkfan says:

    have got asperger too, one of possible symtoms is obsession like behaviour and mine is southpark, amazing episode I think people draw conclusions to quickly about what matt and trey actually think about this subject, they’re great thinkers and most of the episodes are really like this, you have to ask a couple of questions before you get them, if you are able to at all..
    beautifull episode, everything is changing, time and space (also Cartman and Kyle) ends with familiar space and ends back home with Kyle being mad at Carman for sticking burgers up his …
    Also again a crazy psychiatwist that has it’s own army of Autistic people that piss against the wall (crazy misconceptions of the viewer) and believe in crazy stuff because they get together with other Aspergers..
    Too bad something is clearly wrong with Stan that’s the only thing that really kept me from laughing from an otherwise one of the best episodes ever..

  16. Sarah says:

    I have Aspergers and depression too and I like South Park. I kind of forced myself to watch this episode to prove that I wouldn’t let it offend me. At first I found myself kind of cringing but once I reminded myself it’s a TV show I let myself enjoy it and laugh along with it like every other episode.

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