South Park Takes on the Mohammed Cartoons

I just finished watching an episode of South Park that I'm certain will be generating its share of buzz tomorrow.

SP creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone gave their audience alot to chew on, so I'm going to recap from memory and TiVo best I can.

The show's plot centered around the Mohammed cartoon controversy, opening with a scene where main character Stan is startled out of bed by his hysterical father, who rushes the family out of the house to join the shrieking masses already frantically seeking shelter.

The reason for their panic? In the South Park episode, Fox's animated sitcom The Family Guy is planning to air an episode where the Prophet Mohammed makes a cameo appearance. Family Guy is an animated sitcom, meaning a Prophet appearance would be -gasp! You guessed it- a Mohammed cartoon.

The townsfolk of South Park barricade themselves into the village community center, fearing an American repeat of the violent Muslim response to the Danish cartoons. Only after a news report airs the following morning that Fox made a last minute decision to censor Mohammed do they emerge from their makeshift fortifications.

I'll skip to the end of the episode, as the middle was filled with subplots. This is where it gets a little complicated.

Fox announces that the Family Guy episode was a two-part series, and that Mohammed would appear uncensored the following week. The South Park show ends on a cliffhanger, as the people of America begin burying their heads in the sand to prove their sensitivity to Muslims (they won't hear the show or see the show with their heads buried, get it?), while a voiceover announces that South Park is also a two-part series, and begins asking that Adam West-Batman style of questioning: "Will the people of America be safe? Will Fox let the Family Guy air? Will they show Mohammed Uncensored? Find out next week to see if Comedy Central pusses out."

I told you that story so I could write the following.

South Park used the Family Guy as a metaphor for their own show. Trey Parker and Matt Stone announced to the world that they will caticature Mohammed next week, and dared Comedy Central to stop them.

South Park may be an odd place to find inspirational speeches, but one came from a SP citizen responding to a professor's call to submit to the Islamist temper tantrums:

Freedom of speech is at stake here, don't you all see? If anything, we should all make cartoons of Mohammed and show the terrorists and the extremists that we are all united in the belief that every person has a right to say what they want. Look people, it's been really easy for us to stand up for free speech lately. For the past few decades, we haven't had to risk anything to defend it. One of those times is right now. And if we aren't willing to risk what we have now, then we just believe in free speech, but won't defend it.
South Park has come under fire for lampooning religions in the past, the most recent example being their trashing of scientology (an episode which cost them one of the show's main characters, Chef, voiced by scientologist Isaac Hayes). Comedy Central later banned reruns of the offending episode.

Chunky South Park-ite Eric Cartman responded to the network's censorship in this evening's episode, explaining to his friend Kyle how pulling an episode can signal the end of a show:
It's simple television economics Kyle, all it takes to kill a show forever is to get one episode pulled. If we convince the network to pull this episode for the sake of Muslims, the Catholics can demand that a show that they don't like get pulled, then people with disabilities can demand that a show that they don't like get pulled, and so on and so on, until Family Guy is no more. The same thing happened to Laverne and Shirley.
Sometimes it takes an unlikely hero like South Park to step up and put things into perspective. If there is such a thing as "The Cartoon Wars," then animated sitcoms like South Park are on the front lines.

From what I could gather from the cliffhanger ending, South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone have forced Comedy Central to stand at the same crossroads that hundreds of newspapers and periodicals across America stood at not a month ago. Next week they will guest star Mohammed in all of his animated glory, and they have let Muslims know in advance that it's a-coming.

Comedy Central has a choice. They can either stand by their longtime stars in Parker and Stone, or succumb to cheap threats from petty thugs. Should Comedy Central make a decision endorsed by the First Amendment, I will be glued to my tv next Wednesday at 10pm.

If you all want to catch this evening's South Park, it should rerun April 6th at 10pm.


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