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South Park Scientology Episode


#1

More examples of cartoons insulting religion? Or celebrities being idiots? Both?

http://volokh.com/posts/chain_1142758413.shtml

Jim Lindgren, March 19, 2006 at 3:53am] 2 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

More Cartoons Insulting Religion.--

South Park, fresh from surviving a Catholic-inspired boycott of an episode showing a bleeding Virgin Mary ( http://www.cbc.ca/story/arts/national/2006/02/23/boycott-southpark-ratings.html ), is now in trouble with Scientology.

First, Isaac Hayes, Scientologist and longtime voice of the character Chef, quit the show ( http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=televisionNews&storyID=2006-03-14T013323Z_01_N13192246_RTRIDST_0_TELEVISION-SOUTHPARK-DC.XML ):

Hayes said the show's parody of religion in general was part of what he saw as a "growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs" in the media, including the recent controversy over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs ... begins," Hayes said.

Matt Stone responded with a public statement ( http://www.southparkstudios.com/fans/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=18442&sid=7a4cde99fdb6f678dc8d651612c8b852 ):

This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of 'South Park.' In ten years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non-sequiter. Of course we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well.

Stone then went even further ( http://www.501blog.com/?p=642 ):

"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology. . . . He has no problem ? and he's cashed plenty of checks ? with our show making fun of Christians."

Now some in the press are accusing ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/tv--radio/cruise-in-south-park-boycott-claim/2006/03/18/1142582566064.html ) the prominent Scientologist, Tom Cruise, of getting Comedy Central to suppress the showing of an episode mocking him. But Cruise's representative denies the charge ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/tv--radio/cruise-in-south-park-boycott-claim/2006/03/18/1142582566064.html ), and a Paramount spokeswoman denied knowledge of any threats:

Actor Tom Cruise threatened to boycott promotion of his upcoming Paramount Pictures film unless a sister cable TV network pulled a South Park rerun lampooning the Church of Scientology, industry sources said today.

Representatives for Paramount and Cruise, a prominent Scientologist, denied he made any such threats or had anything to do with the Comedy Central network cancelling plans to air a repeat of the South Park episode titled Trapped in the Closet on Wednesday.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the crudely animated cartoon hit, issued a quirky statement, filled with references to Scientology and the science-fiction writings of church founder L. Ron Hubbard, suggesting Scientology was behind the scheduling change. . . .

Instead of the Tom Cruise episode, the network aired reruns of two South Park episodes featuring the character Chef, voiced by veteran soul singer Isaac Hayes, also a Scientologist, who quit the show earlier this week.

Comedy Central, which like Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc, declined comment on the rerun switch, other than to say: "In light of the events of earlier this week, we wanted to give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for."

Two industry sources familiar with the situation said Comedy Central pulled the "Trapped in the Closet" episode from its South Park rerun rotation after Cruise threatened to cease promotion of his upcoming Paramount film, Mission: Impossible III.

Cruise spokesman Paul Bloch said neither the actor nor his representatives "had anything to do" with the scheduling of South Park reruns and that Cruise had never said to anyone he would refuse to promote his film. Paramount spokeswoman Janet Hill denied any knowledge of such a threat.

Apparently invoking Scientology terminology, Stone and Parker responded to the latest move by Comedy Central ( http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/03/matt_and_trey_f.html ):

" So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!

- Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu."

What is it about cartoons and religion?

UPDATE: If you want to see the episode that started all the fuss (or read a transcript), the links are here.

[Jim Lindgren, March 20, 2006 at 12:55am] 3 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks

NOW SHOWING (on the web): The South Park Episode That Comedy Central Didn't Reshow.--

Prominent Scientologist, Tom Cruise, stands accused in the press ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/tv--radio/cruise-in-south-park-boycott-claim/2006/03/18/1142582566064.html ) of inducing Comedy Central to suppress the reshowing of an episode mocking both him and Scientology ( http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_03_19-2006_03_25.shtml#1142758413 ). For those who want to see the offensive episode and make up their own minds, fortunately South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have been quite open toward private downloads of their material.

Accordingly, here is the Scientology episode in its entirety: http://youtube.com/watch?v=SSj9gc36Bw8 It lasts just under 22 minutes.

If you would rather read the script, you may do so here: http://www.planearium2.de/scripts-912.htm

Jack Myers has had a long description of the episode on his site since last fall ( http://www.mediavillage.com/jmentr/2005/11/29/jmer-11-29-05/ ).

In South Park's Scientology episode, Stan, one of the kids who lives in South Park, Colorado, is tested with something called an "E-meter" and scores so highly that he is believed to be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

Here are some of the highlights of the last half of the episode, as described by Jack Myers ( http://www.mediavillage.com/jmentr/2005/11/29/jmer-11-29-05/ ):

First, the president of the Church of Scientology revealed the "safely guarded Scientology doctrine" to Stan. "It all began 75 million years ago with a galactic federation of planets ruled by the evil Lord Xenu," he started, reciting a story that is posted all over the Web. "Fearing overcrowding, Xenu rounded up countless aliens from all those planets and had those aliens frozen. The frozen alien bodies were loaded onto Xenu's galactic cruisers, which looked like DC-8s, except with rocket engines. They were sent to earth and dumped into the volcanoes of Hawaii [and other volcanoes, see Wikipedia]. They were no longer frozen. They were dead.

"The souls of the aliens floated toward the sky," the president continued, explaining that Xenu had built giant "soul catchers" to collect them all and unload them into a brainwashing facility he had built on earth. "The souls were forced to watch days of brainwashing material that tricked them into believing a false reality," the president revealed. "Xenu then released the alien souls that roamed the earth aimlessly in a fog of confusion. At the dawn of man the aliens found bodies they could grab onto. They attached themselves to all mankind, which still to this day causes all our fears, confusions and problems."

As the president spoke this story was presented in colorful animated detail ? with the words "This is What Scientologists Actually Believe" superimposed on the screen.

Meanwhile, back in Stan's bedroom, Nicole Kidman was recruited to help in the effort to convince Tom Cruise come out of hiding. "Don't you think this has gone on long enough?" she asked her ex-husband. "It's time for you to come out of the closet."

"I'm not in the closet," Cruise replied.

"Yes you are, Tom," said a patient Kidman. "And you need to just end this and come out. I'm not going to think any differently of you. Katie's not going to think any differently of you. You don't need to be in that closet anymore, Tom. Come out. You're not fooling anyone."

Eventually, fellow Scientologist John Travolta joined Cruise in the closet. He also refused to come out, sparking additional interest from the media. Stan, meantime, was busily writing a new sacred doctrine for the Church. But when he suggested that Scientologists should no longer have to pay money to belong to the Church, its president had a meltdown.

"What are you, stupid?" he raged. "What's better than telling people a stupid story and having them believe you? Having them pay you for it!" Stan's continued gentle protests further agitated him. "This is a scam on a global scale!" the man cried. "Do you f---ing get me now?"

Stan later addressed a huge crowd of Scientologists in front of his home that had assembled to meet their new profit [sic, a Freudian slip?--JL]. But he further defied the head of the Church, telling the masses, "Scientology is just a big fat global scam." "We're going to sue you!" screamed several outraged Scientologists, including Cruise, who had finally come out of Stan's closet.

"We're going to sue your ass and your balls!" cried one.

"You are so sued, kid," said another.

"Well go on then. Sue me!" Stan shot back. "Do it! I'm not scared of you! Sue me!"

At that, the episode ended, and in a final tweak from Parker and Stone, all of the names in the show's closing credits read John Smith or Jane Smith [presumably to make them harder to identify and thus sue--JL].

Now I can better understand Stone and Parker's response to Comedy Central's suppressing the episode ( http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_03_19-2006_03_25.shtml#1142758413 ):

" So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!

- Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu."

One thing that struck me while watching the Scientology episode is that some of the creation stories in mainstream religions are a bit hard to swallow as well, though I take it that Scientology's creation story is in some respects even stranger than the episode makes it out to be, which is pretty farfetched.

UPDATE: According to FOXNEWS ( http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,188463,00.html ), Comedy Central is going to show the bumped Scientology episode on Wednesday at 10pm ET (tip to Fark.com). Although one can't be certain, it appears as if the uproar ( http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/03/the_south_park_.html ) made Comedy Central rethink their position on reshowing the episode ( http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/03/email_of_the_da_4.html ).


#2

I think SouthPark has crossed the line of what is funny and stepped into pure offensive displays a few times. However, I also think they do it fairly by basically hitting every possible angle whether that be religion, race or even handicaps. Getting mad at them for it would be like getting pissed at something Chris Rock says. I just can't believe Isaac Hayes is a scientologist. What the fuck is the world coming to?


#3

LOL. We already had a thread on this in another forum... and it didn't take such a long lead in... :wink:


#4

That tripped me out too. Who knew?

Weird.


#5

What offended you?

I'm genuinely curious, because my basic rule is that if it's funny, it's not offensive and SP has been funny as hell--this year, especially.


#6

The only one that actually made me consider changing the channel was the episode on the Satanic woodland creatures that started covering themselves in blood and chopping each other up. I felt that was a step too far. It wasn't funny to me. It struck me as deliberate.


#7

Really? I thought that was a good one. There've been way more offensive episodes than that.


#8

It is all about perception. What may offend one person may not offend all. I didn't think most of that episode was funny at all.


#9

This episode though, with the excerpts of Tom Cruise and Travolta in the closet, looks pretty funny -- I'm going to have to watch it online tonight...


#10

all we want is for tom cruise to come out of the closet.


#11

Now, see, too me, that WAS funny. I mean, the fact that they were taking it that far and making it that over the top just tickled me in such a specific way...

But you're right about different people being offended by different things.


#12

Really? I thought the chipmunk screaming, "Blood orgy!" would be up your alley.

The problem I had with that episode was that it wasn't really "about" anything. I think SP is at its best when it's being satirical; that ep was just absurdism for its own sake.


#13

You don't think that the episode was satirical? Haven't you ever seen a Christmas special a la The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or Frosty the Snowman with the narrator telling the story as it unfolds?

It's just that no other Christmas special in the history of Television ever featured three baby mountain lions learning how to perform abortions so that they could stop the porcupine antichrist from being born and ushering in ten thousand years of darkness.

Or cross-species blood orgies, Santa slinging a shotgun, and Jewish kids dying of AIDS two weeks later. :slight_smile:


#14

It's a good one, there's a video of it up at wwww.idontlikeyouinthatway.com I think.


#15

South Park is a great show, our world is so fucked up, why shouldn't it be mocked?

As far as the whole scientology thing goes, I find it wrong and hypocritical for Issac Hayes to step down after his religion is being insulted but he was around the entire time when South Park was ridiculing and completely ripping on the Jews, Christians, and pretty much every other religion and race. What a fucking cop out.

(Never thought I'd say this)

Issac Hayes stop being such a bitch.

Law


#16

Perhaps Isaac Hayes is being misrepresented:


#17

If they are now speaking FOR the people in this organization, that is beyond scary.


#18

Holy crap. Scientology is probably even more f'd up than we all thought. But what do I know? I'm a servant of the evil Lord Xenu.


#19

The "Return of Chef" episode sounds interesting.

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2006/03/south-park-return-of-chef.html

"South Park" -- "The Return of Chef!"

So?

That ended awfully abruptly! Were you satisfied? Isaac Hayes is, I think, honored, and the hatred is directed at the organization that took him away from us, the "Super Adventure Club." The grisly near-death scene was finely detailed, and the final "salty balls" punchline well-placed. The strip club interlude was genuinely poignant, as the kids beg poor Chef to remember his real self.

Taking the broader view, answer the question: Is religion a super adventure club?

UPDATE: Here's the AP description of the episode, quoting key lines ( http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/TV/03/23/south.park.hayes.ap/index.html ):

[i]''A lot of us don't agree with the choices the Chef has made in the last few days,'' one of the children eulogizes him at a funeral. ''Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can't let the events of the past few weeks take away the memories of how Chef made us smile.

''We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us,'' the eulogy concludes. ''We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains.''[/i]

Scientology was not named. Standing in for it was "that fruity little club," the "Super Adventure Club," which is all about child molestation. Chef's membership in the club was revealed in scenes that use spliced-together dialogue from past episodes that were voiced by Isaac Hayes.


#20

The only south park episode I've found disturbing was 504 - Scott Tenorman must die. It was just really, really weird and I still haven't figured out its purpose. Goddamn scary shit.

Other than that, South Park rocks.