"South Park" and "Popetown"

Brent Bozell

4/21/2006 12:05:00 AM - Brent Bozell

For a long time now, we have known that Viacom was a shameless merchant of sleaze TV, a conglomerate intent on shredding everything good, decent, and even holy to feather its own filthy nest with money. What is new is that we didn't know that Viacom had a limit to its shamelessness.
 
Any attack on Christianity, not matter how repugnant, is not only acceptable, it is celebrated. But the very idea of a scene mocking Islam … and Viacom runs for the hills. Viacom-owned Comedy Central has announced it would not let its super-sleazy cartoon "South Park" show a cartoon image of Mohammed, lest Muslims be offended. They put out a brief statement: "In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision." Its executives would not comment further, but an insider told AP's David Bauder the reason was the network brass's "concerns for public safety."

In a convoluted two-part episode aimed at embarrassing its own network, the creators of "South Park" wrote a show about not being allowed to show the prophet Mohammed in cartoon form. The "South Park" view is expressed in the second show: "Either it's all OK, or none of it is," said one character. But the creators of "South Park" don't go for all-or-nothing mockery in this plot. For example, they don't really attack al-Qaeda in these episodes. They draw laughs by having Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri act as foils for Hollywood-scriptwriter inside jokes.

When Mohammed was slated to appear, the image of Mohammed was replaced with a black screen, reading: "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network." So keep score. Comedy Central wouldn't allow "South Park" to show a cartoon depiction of Mohammed ... but it didn't have any problem with the show ending with a depiction of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush: "Look at me, I'm Jesus. Would you like me to crap on you, Mr. Bush? Mmm, yummy, yummy crap!"

There was no black screen explaining, "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast a mockery of the image of Jesus during Holy Week on their network." Viacom's standards are curious, to say the least. It mocks Christians all year long -- Easter mockery is a natural next step after last year's special, "Merry F---ing Christmas" -- but the image of Mohammed is a sacred cow that must be respected.

What gives here? The lesson is clear: Riot in the streets of Europe over some silly Danish newspaper cartoons, and you can intimidate Hollywood executives into silence. Is Comedy Central trying to suggest that the sure-fire way for Christians to get dung-flinging Jesus off of "South Park" is to riot and burn some buildings down?

But wait. Viacom is even more pathetic than this. CNSNews.com reporter Patrick Goodenough reported that in Germany, Viacom-owned MTV has decided to run an anti-Catholic cartoon so negative that even the BBC rejected it, a cartoon called "Popetown."

The show's official site features a DVD cover with a cartoon of the show's Pope brandishing a machine gun. The promotional copy explained: "'Popetown' takes you into the side-splittingly surreal world of the Vatican as the long-suffering and good-hearted Father Nicholas struggles to walk the narrow path of righteousness, whilst surrounded by money grabbing cardinals and a pogo-stick-riding infantile pope."

But perhaps since that would only offend Catholics, and since Viacom understandably has no fear whatsoever of a Catholic Church that refuses to defend itself, MTV in Germany kicked it up a notch. They ran a promotional ad in the days before Easter depicting Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns and bleeding but descended from the cross, enjoying the luminous glow of "Popetown" on MTV. "Laughing instead of hanging around," (Lachen statt rumhaengen) reads the tagline of the ad.

It's impossible to accept that the folks at Viacom didn't expect this to deliberately insult all Christians. Will anyone take a bet on how likely it would be that MTV would run a Mohammed-spoofing ad in Germany?

Viacom used to be the scum of the Earth, parading around and accept awards from the ACLU for their "courageous" programming. (Last June, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California hailed Comedy Central boss Doug Herzog with its "Torch of Liberty" Award: "Herzog has also always stood by 'South Park' and its creators' right to free expression.") These people are still the scum of the Earth, but now they can't in any way claim that they're courageous when it comes to controversy. They're hypocrites and cowards of the most odious rank.