Sunday, May 8, 2011

Comedy Central Caves Again

Bin Laden is dead, and the government has decided we don't get to see pictures of his non-smiling face after having his head air-conditioned. At the same time, the self-censors at Comedy Central have once again decided that it's just not right even to show cartoon pictures of the Pedophile Prophet Mohammed. Creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are not pleased.

Comedy Central doesn't seem to have any objection to Parker and Stone depicting Jesus as a foul-mouthed, stoned hippie philosopher. Jews are routinely depicted as stereotypical bearded anomalies, with funny accents and strange ways of expressing themselves. Catholics are a particular source of derision, and even Scientologists haven't been spared. The humor is often vulgar and over-the-top, but the purpose is to prick the sensitivities of those who often take themselves and their religiosity too seriously.

The pair have no hesitation about depicting Mohammed in the same manner, but for some reason that we unsophisticates are not privy to, Comedy Central sees fit to cut any pictures, references or mockery of Mohammed. Well--maybe we do know. The absence of beheading threats from Christians, Jews and Scientologists gives us a hint. And the absence of burned mosques or hanged Muslims in the wake of the pairs' jabs might also be a clue. South Park has actually depicted Mohammed a few times, but that was before the murderous riots that followed the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons. In fact, Mohammed is depicted in the accompanying picture, and if you can blow the picture up, you'll see him mid-right with a red rectangle drawn around him. Those were less dangerous times.

200, an episode that celebrated South Park's 200th joke-fest, contained an image that has come to be known as Parker and Stones' "safe" way of depicting Mohammed as a bear. The episode was aired a year ago, complete with censored pictures and dialog, and is now out on the Season 14 DVD. It created the predictable furor from the mad Muslims who won't even allow the creators an alternate way of depicting an unlabeled Mohammed. Even those dummies have figured out that the bear is the creators' way of jabbing at both Comedy Central and furious Muslims by depicting Mohammed with a non-depiction. The same depiction was to be repeated in episode 201. No such luck.

South Park is normally available intact for videostreaming at the same time as the episode is shown on Comedy Central. Parker and Stone previewed the censored episode from the DVD and went online to add the following message where the Mohammed non-depiction depiction was intended to be:

We apologize that South Park Studios cannot stream episode 201 at this time.

After we delivered the show, and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show.

We will bring you a version of 201 as soon as we can.

In other words, despite the network bleeping on air and in streaming video, Parker and Stone had expected the Season 14 DVD to be restored to its original outrageous form. That didn't happen. They were allowed, however, to issue a statement preceding episode 201: "In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. The bleeps [which viewers may have missed when the show first aired] were added by Comedy Central. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear [in the wake of the original airing]. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too."

That statement was undoubtedly far more civil than what the pair actually thought and wanted to say. In fact, if they had said on the DVD what I suspect they said privately, we wouldn't be able to repeat it on our blog. As it stands now, this most recent selective network censorship does more than simply cut the "offending" words and depictions of non-Mohammed. It makes it far more difficult to put together those weekly shows that center on current events involving religions and philosophies of all kinds. They know that only one religion demands self-censorship by the network--or else.

How can they reasonably be expected to continue to jab at Christianity, Judaism and the Scientology cult while having anything they say or show about Islam and Mohammed cut into non-existence? They can either expend considerable effort on creating an episode that will be savaged (either by the network or by the religion of peace, or both), or accomplish the goal of the haters by not doing any material that relates to Islam and Mohammed.

Parker and Stone have no intention of doing Islam's dirty work and becoming propagandists for them by parodying only Christians and Jews (yes, and Scientologists). The insane outrage from Islamists on a daily basis provides a wealth of material that exceeds all the foolishness of the other religions combined. The pair are expected to ignore the wildly-indignant Muslims at all costs, including suppressing their artistic creativity. Shame, again, on Comedy Central for its cowardly retreat from openness and equal opportunity parody.

They can only do just so many parodies of Barbra Streisand, Mel Gibson and San Francisco before the material gets stale. But militant Islam is the comic gift that keeps on giving on a daily and even hourly basis. Their greatest source of pointed comedy, alas, will reach nobody until Parker and Stone can find a way to get the material past the Comedy Central censors and out to the public. No mean feat, given the large legal staff at Comedy Central and the Muslim lobby.


AndrewPrice said...

I'm not sure I follow this, is there something new going on or is this still about the episode where he ended up in the bear suit?

Unknown said...

Andrew: You are correctly remembering the original brouhaha. The creators had been given at least some hope that when the DVD came out, the original version would be allowed. It wasn't. Mohammed remains in the bear suit, but all the blips and deletions that were supposed to be removed remained in place, a year after the original TV showing. It's not so much a new controversy as the old one redux--adding present insult to past injury. The original was shown in April of 2010. The DVD remains fully censored with the release this month.

Unknown said...

Andrew: As we've discussed before, I should add that I used the word "censored" in its broadest sense, since it's easier to say and write than "self-censored." Self-censored doesn't adequately describe the situation, since the creators didn't cut and bleep, Comedy Central did. Same controversy, new package.

CORRECTION: I didn't see the DVD version until last week. It was actually released on April 26.

Kosh said...

This "self-censorship" infuriates me because it is so cowardly. I don't get what they are afraid of? Isn't Islam the religion of peace?

What is really stupid is if Islam is truly the religion of peace, they would ignore Parker and Stone. And if they became violent it would just show how accurate the politically incorrect version is.

Islam is that dumb kid who has no self confidence but is bigger than most of the kids around him. Therefore, bullying the other kids builds his ego. The other kids try to stay of his way because they really don't like to fight and hate getting pink bellies. This just feeds the ego. What he really needs is an ass-whoopin'. The mistake we made in Iraq was we should have mercilessly annnihilated the country and then re-built it. Japan and Germany were nuisance to those around them for years. Now, 70 years later and they still favor paficism.

Unknown said...

Kosh: All true. I think Parker and Stone were more optimistic than I. They apparently thought that once the controversy had run its course, a year had passed, and the DVD would not be "live" on TV, the network would keep faith by allowing the censored portions to be restored to their original version. Forgive and forget is not a Muslim tradition, and Comedy Central is apparently as afraid of them now as it was a year ago. Sad, and cowardly.

BevfromNYC said...

Of course the libs think this is perfectly okay. Btw the hottest ticket on Broadway this season is "Book of Morman" by Matt and Trey. Yes they skewer the Mormons too even though Mormons actually think the show was great. I been trying to get a ticket for weeks the show was nominated for 14 Tonys!

Unknown said...

Bev: I guess the Mormons have the sense of humor the Muslims should borrow. And they haven't killed any furriners entering their territory in over a hundred years (that I know of). LOL

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, what makes this so laughable is I remember the original episode when the plot was Mohammed's supposed depiction by Family Guy, and the point was that we couldn't change our behavior because people were threatening to harm us if we exercised our rights. So the South Park creators included the mock FG cartoon with the drawing of Mohammed, and of course, the scene was blocked out by Comedy Central. That in itself just says so much about the network.

On a related note, Obama is on "60 Minutes" right now talking about the decision to take out bin Laden, and a highlight was his statement that "if you don't believe that we should have gone after a guy who murdered thousands of Americans on our own soil, you need to have your head examined." What do you know--I agree with Barack Obama.

StanH said...

Even a blind pig finds an acorn from time to time T-Rav.

I have faith in Parker and Stone, they’ll eventually have their say, irreverence is their keystone.

You can never have enough jokes about San Francisco.

Unknown said...

Stan: I know. I was heady with my disgust for Comedy Central's cowardice, but you really can't ever run out of good material about San Francisco.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: As I've said before, even Satan tells the truth occasionally when it suits his purpose. Taking credit for the bin Laden attack as if he had been there in camouflage suit and assault rifle currently suits his purpose. Let's wait and see how the CAIR polls go before we decide he's finally taken a firm position on the right side.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: It occurs to me that The One puffing himself up on 60 Minutes is utterly appropriate. 60 minutes is about as long as he has given any consideration to the well-being and security of the people of the United States during his entire administration.

StanH said...

In your otherwise brilliant essay, I felt I would be remiss, if I didn’t point out the obvious. LOL!

No really, using Saul Alinsky tactics, San Francisco must be ridiculed after all it is the Mecca of the Counter Culture, so pound away and…”be Sure to wear flowers in your hair.”

Unknown said...

Stan: Aw, now you did it. I used to get all misty-eyed when they'd play that song while I was back in Southern California right after graduation. I even picked up a hippie hitchhiker in Laguna Beach because I was nostalgic. I left him off in Newport Beach because I couldn't stand the smell he was radiating in my car. That was the end of my nostalgia.

As I've mentioned before, it's hard to keep making fun of San Francisco because all you have to do is tell the truth--but nobody believes you. I must give credit to the boys for taking the ridiculous and turning it sublime. Their giant cloud of smug heading for South Park from Sodom by the Bay was priceless.

StanH said...

That must have been an incredible time to be in SF, I have to admit a little nostalgic jealousy, even though I was young, Monterey, Fillmore West, Haight-Ashbury, etc.

T-Rav said...

Stan and LawHawk, I personally prefer the "Even a broken clock is right twice a day." Makes Obama sound less, you know, Satanic.

Actually, the interview was pretty good; not because of what Obama was saying, but because it was easy to read between the lines and figure out what was really going on--for example, the administration knows Pakistan was deep in this bin Laden compound mess, even if it wouldn't do to say so publicly. Pretty fascinating stuff, all around.

Unknown said...

Stan: They say if you remember the 60s you weren't there. But I do remember most of it, and was there during most of the events that are now history--the Vietnam War, the summer of love, and the San Francisco sound. Of course my memory also tends to be selective, as is human nature. I mostly remember the good things and diminish the bad. Barbra Streisand, anyone? I had temporarily moved back to Los Angeles for awhile because my mother had become quite ill near the end of 1966, though I kept my apartment in San Francisco. Drove up and back nearly every weekend. But she was well enough that I could drive my brand new '67 Camaro SS 350 to Monterey for the big show. We're coming up on 44 years since then. Jeez, where did all the time go?

Unknown said...

T_Rav: Thanks for the update. I have to rely on you and others for these reports. I can't take more than about two minutes of that arrogant, incompetent, self-serving fool. I haven't felt that way about a president since Lyndon Johnson. The other old saying that applies is "you can tell when he's lying--his lips are moving."

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