UPDATE: Make sure to read Hugh's take on this, too. He's less enthusiastic about the "South Park" boys than I, concerned about the ways in which this kind of thing can affect the War on Terror.
I know a lot of conservatives are squeamish about the "South Park" boys. They're crude and lewd and inappropriate for children, but they're also right on all the big issues-- multi-culturalism, cultural relativism, patriotism, the free market, Hollywood liberals. I've been a big fan since I just happened to catch Episode 1 on its first airing back in 1997.
And, they're absolutely fearless (not to mention, hilarious) in their portrayal of their positions on those issues. I've always loved the show, not just for the flat-out funny factor, but because I think it's a great vehicle for communicating unconventional conservative/libertarian messages to a mostly young, default liberal audience.
"South Park" has made many of my liberal friends take some time to think about a couple issues a little differently, when they won't take the time to listen to me with an open mind because I'm an unabashed, labeled, evil "conservative." The "South Park" guys, on the other hand, are crude and lewd and couldn't possibly be the stodgy kind of folks who love their country and the free market and detest overzealous cultural sensitivity. Ahh, but they kind of are.
"South Park" has the potential to reach a different demographic with messages than I can, just as I have the potential to reach a different demographic with such messages than a Fred Barnes does. The message is coming from an unexpected source, so it's not immediately branded "conservative" and, therefore, evil.
I've always thought the "South Park" guys pretty brilliantly walked a line most other TV shows can't. They're political-- overtly political much of the time-- but no one on either side seems to get overly ticked off because of the political messages their show contains. It's almost as if the crudeness is a smoke screen. Everyone talks about the cursing and scatology and the other stuff creeps through and makes an impact without anyone noticing. They're also careful not to be pinned down as loyal to any particular ideology or party, which helps.
Diabolical, I tell you. There's absolutely nothing better than watching a bunch of really confused liberals walk out of a screening of "Team America" shaking their heads.
But Comedy Central noticed when the "South Park" boys tried to put the prophet Mohammed in this week's episode. The writers of the show gave Comedy Central fair warning, daring them in last week's episode to censor the show, announcing their plans to portray Mohammed this Wednesday.
Here's the AP story:
Banned by Comedy Central from showing an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the creators of "South Park" skewered their own network for hypocrisy in the cartoon's most recent episode.
The comedy _ in an episode aired during Holy Week for Christians _ instead featured an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.
In an elaborately constructed two-part episode of their Peabody Award-winning cartoon, "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker intended to comment on the controversy created by a Danish newspaper's publishing of caricatures of Muhammad. Muslims consider any physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous.
Here's what happened last night:
As is often the case with Parker and Stone, they built "South Park" around the incident. In Wednesday's episode, the character Kyle is shown trying to persuade a Fox network executive to air an uncensored "Family Guy" even though it had an image of Muhammad.
"Either it's all OK, or none of it is," Kyle said. "Do the right thing."
The executive decides to strike a blow for free speech and agrees to show it. But at the point where Muhammad is to be seen, the screen is filled with the message: "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Muhammad on their network."
It is followed shortly by the images of Christ, Bush and the flag.
Now, AP finds a goober to complain about the fact that Christ is depicted in an offensive way on the show, implicitly lumping all conservatives and Christians in with this guy when, in fact, most conservatives are loudly applauding Trey Parker and Matt Stone for taking a stand for free speech:
"The ultimate hypocrite is not Comedy Central _ that's their decision not to show the image of Muhammad or not _ it's Parker and Stone," he said. "Like little whores, they'll sit there and grab the bucks. They'll sit there and they'll whine and they'll take their shot at Jesus. That's their stock in trade."
Seriously, does he not get the joke? The statement that Comedy Central concedes it's all right to show Jesus defecating on Bush and an American flag, but it's entirely inappropriate to show Mohammed at all?
That is powerful, and Comedy Central should be utterly ashamed of itself. I'm proud of the South Park boys for going to extra mile to make them ashamed.
I always knew, from the first time I saw an 80-foot, alien-tracking satellite pop out of Cartman's posterior in Episode 1, that those boys were gonna make something of themselves.
Please send feedback to Comedy Central about the show, here. Yes, they're crude and lewd and inappropriate for children, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone are also fighting the good fight.
UPDATE: Ace is in PR, now.
Ku Klux Klan, take note: You can get the media to treat your better if you simply burn more crosses and lynch more people.
Who knows-- blow up a few buildings and you might soon be branded "The White Supremacist Creed Of Peace."
And, the Anchoress has a take on the Jesus scene:
The â€œpoopingâ€ was designed, Iâ€™m sure, to see if some of the religious and right-winged folks who lionized the series last week (like me) would pop blood vessels this week - these Libertarian boys are still sly enough to make sure they push the right buttons! But I think they didnâ€™t give folks on the right, and some religious folk, enough credit. Weâ€™re not babies, and we donâ€™t spend all of our time crying victim and carrying on about â€œhurtfulâ€ messages and â€œmean-spiritedâ€ words. Thatâ€™s a different gang of folk. Itâ€™s not the folks on the right who shout down speakers invited to college campuses, or who throw pies and salad dressing on people with whom they disagree.
She's right, and it's too bad the AP had to find the one guy who doesn't get that and quote only him.
UPDATE 2: Kevin thinks Trey and Matt are having some fun with us and just watching the story unfold. "South Park" has fun at everyone's expense, which is part of why it's so great. I wouldn't at all be surprised if they lampooned the pundits in future episodes.