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Explainer: ‘South Park’s’ top 10 cruelest celebrity send-ups

  • Image: "South Park" Paris Hilton
    Comedy Central
    "South Park" didn't exactly paint socialite Paris Hilton in the most flattering light.

    The fictional town of South Park, Colo., is known for its snarky kids, its no-holds-barred humor and its skewering of anyone even remotely resembling a celebrity.

    That’s because nothing’s sacred on “South Park” — least of all Hollywood.

    Matt Parker and Trey Stone, the controversy-courting duo behind the animated series, have no qualms about routinely tackling film stars, musicians and various famous-for-being-famous faces with their impartial irreverence. Inevitably, that leads to a nice balance of genuine offense and fits of laughter.

    Want proof? Check out this list of the best parodies and put-downs the stars have seen on “South Park.”

  • Britney Spears

    Following a string of personal setbacks, one bad haircut and perhaps the worst VMA performance ever, Britney Spears became the subject of a particularly brutal "South Park" episode called "Britney’s New Look."

    Just like real-life, the constant paparazzi presence combined with private woes became too much for cartoon Spears, but rather than shaving her head, this Spears decided to blow it off. Mostly. As it turned out, Nearly-Headless-Brit survived the self-inflected wound only to face a new round of public interest and criticism for her new "crazy, no-top-part-of-my-head look."

    This Spears didn’t fare any better at the alternate-reality Video Music Awards, where her performance was just as awful as the regular-reality version, right down to accusations of lip-synching. Well, lipless lip-synching.

  • Michael Jackson

    Although the characters that moved into the neighborhood in "The Jeffersons" were never called the Jacksons, there's no doubt Mr. Jefferson was a stand-in for Michael Jackson and his son Blanket represented, well, "Blanket" Jackson.

    The episode, which first aired five years before the "King of Pop" passed away, focused on his Peter Pan fixation. Mr. Jefferson loved children and childhood, but between hanging out with other kids, maintaining his plastic surgery and joining in the occasional and very uncomfortable sleepover, he had little time for his own child.

    It took only one of Kyle’s patented show-ending speeches to turn toon-MJ around.

  • Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi

    When the reality TV stars of "Jersey Shore" and "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" took over South Park, as well as the entire eastern half of the United States, the townsfolk panicked. They didn’t want to be part of new New Jersey, and they were willing to flush out every GTL specimen they found to fend off that fate.

    Then the locals learned what they were really up against when they discovered a drinking, smoking, smoosh-smooshing bar beast "called a Snooki."

    While real-life Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi seems easy enough to control with cocktails and juiceheads on the "Shore," her "South Park" counterpart in "It’s a Jersey Thing" required the assistance of Osama bin Laden.

  • Tom Cruise

    In 2005’s "Trapped in the Closet," the "South Park" gang took jabs at Tom Cruise personally, professionally and spiritually.

    The actor was portrayed as a man desperate for the approval of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who, according to one heck of an E-meter reading, was presumed to have returned in the form of Stan. After failing to get a thumbs-up from non-believer Stan, a shamed Cruise ran into the boy’s closet.

    In addition to some heavy-handed religious ridicule, much of the remainder of the episode focused on a single quest: to get Tom Cruise to "come out of the closet."

  • Paris Hilton

    Celebutante Paris Hilton received the full "South Park" treatment in "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset."

    Ignoring some of the show’s more extreme Paris-related plot points, including her very own unforgettable disappearing pineapple routine and a disappearing-altogether act, the story highlighted her real reputation as a pet collector.

    The reality switcheroo came when "South Park’s" Hilton didn’t simply lose her precious pets. The long line of various pocket pups instead took their own lives rather than be forced to spend another moment as a living accessory for the reality star.

  • Christopher Reeve

    A year before actor Christopher Reeve died, the "South Park" gang proved even beloved stars weren’t above few cruel cuts.

    Much like the real Reeve, the 2003 animated edition campaigned for stem cell research. And that’s where the similarity ended. Completely unlike the inspiration, animated-Reeve utilized the coveted stem cell by munching on a fetus when the craving struck.

    Gross? Yes. Offensive? Oh yeah. On the plus side, the messy method worked.

    Soon after that, the newly healed actor created the Legion of Doom and revealed his commitment to "world domination and evil."

  • Jennifer Lopez

    "Fat Butt and Pancake Head" spoofed one-time ubiquitous celebrity couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. But in fairness to the Affleck half of Bennifer, J.Lo received most of the barbs.

    First there was the sudden appearance of a pretender to the diva throne in the form of a Señor Wences-style Lopez imposter voiced and stereotyped by resident troublemaker Cartman. Then there was the fact that the handy "Ms. Lopez" threatened to take over everything that meant anything to J.Lo — career, fans and Affleck.

    If Lopez didn’t feel thoroughly roasted by the end of this 2003 offering, then recent celebrity reunion episode "200," which featured the return of Cartman’s left-hand puppet, would have done the job.

  • Billy Mays

    Just a few short months after popular pitchman Billy Mays died, as well as Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and David Carradine, the "South Park" powers-that-be ignored the usual too-soon sentiment for "Dead Celebrities."

    While the episode mainly served as yet another Jackson send-up, Mays took on an unexpected supporting spot by continuing to shill for real and imagined products from beyond the grave. And in true Mays fashion, he did so at top volume.

    Eventually, the as-seen-on-TV haunting ended, as the spirits of Mays, Jackson and the others were finally released from limbo and able to move on … to hell.

  • Angelina Jolie

    In "Lice Capades," actress Angelina Jolie served as the butt of the joke, but it was joke viewers weren’t let in on until the very end.

    Most of the show focused on the tale of a louse name Travis, who lost his wife in a shampoo accident. Frail and half-dead, Travis and his surviving baby were saved by a kindly fly that transported them to a new home with a burgeoning lice colony. Aw.

    The Jolie connection? The colony that welcomed Travis to their palatial estate just so happened to be the actress’s personal (er, very personal) infestation.

  • Russell Crowe

    Before Stan and his pals could watch the new Terrance and Phillip movie trailer (in an episode aptly titled "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer"), they were forced to sit through stretches of their least favorite show, Russell Crowe’s "Fightin’ Around the World."

    Capitalizing on the actor’s reputation for throwing a punch ( or occasionally a phone) or two in his day, "South Park’s" Crowe built an entire career out of his violent tendencies. Traveling with his tugboat friend, Crowe pummeled strangers from port to port.

    Hey, no matter what Stan said, Crowe’s punch-'em-up show looked loads better than Terrance and Phillip’s latest effort.

    Ree Hines just couldn’t fit all of the greats, so the classic send-ups of Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and David Blaine didn’t make the cut. Follow @ReeHines on Twitter and tell her your "South Park" picks.

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