As everyone’s aware by now, there’s a bit of a fatwah on the heads of Matt Stone and Trey Parker due to their 200th and 201st episodes, and an A-story involving the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
I don’t mean to sound in the slightest bit as though I’m making light of this situation. As fans of South Park know, this was not the first time we’ve dealt with this. Last time, it was the “Cartoon Wars” two-parter. This episode was in response to the controversy involving the censorship of a Danish newspaper’s cartoons depicting Muhammad, and the existence of this new taboo. Of course all most people remember from that pair of episodes is that they ripped on Family Guy, but Comedy Central censored the images of Muhammad then, as Parker and Stone put it, because they didn’t want to get bombed.
Of course, earlier than “Cartoon Wars” was the “Super Best Friends” episode in which we saw Muhammad in all his glory palling around with Jesus and Buddha and Seaman and their friends. This pre-9/11 episode was streamed on Comedy Central’s website without notice until a few days ago when, because people kept saying, “Hey, why was SBF okay and not this?” they had to pull it offline.
Of course what “200” and “201” were all about was censorship and intimidation. It’s not really ironic that these two episodes ended up being completely censored as a result of intimidation.
As Jon Stewart pointed out, Revolution Muslim, the extremist group making the threats against Matt and Trey and Comedy Central, is actually based out of New York. That means theses radicals who are spreading this hate are doing so with OUR freedom of speech. They are using American freedoms to take down American rights. They probably got this smart idea from their leader, a born-‘n-raised American.
You know those idiots in college who got so, “Ugh, I hate this country so much; we’re so bourgeoisie. I just want to move to Europe and stay away from this pathetic cesspool”? Imagine that asshole went to Israel and changed his whole worldview and decided that America sucked so bad that he just wanted to bomb the shit out of it, all while living in the hustle and bustle of its most beloved city.
What a fucking hypocrite.
Look, I know people are out there throwing around the line, “Come on, it’s just a cartoon.” I think we all know that’s not the case. We live in the Pixar age – there’s really no longer such a thing as “just a cartoon.” Animation is a legitimate art form, able to tell as powerful a story as any other medium. For thirteen years (well, technically the first two or three seasons didn’t really do this as much) South Park has used itself as a bit of a soapbox for the First Amendment, and its arguably done so better than any other weekly fictional TV show out there. Sure, sometimes the show gets up its own ass and preaches too heavily, but other times there’s Randy Marsh jumping around on his balls like a Hoppity Hop.
You can call the show crass, you can call it stupid, you can even call it worthless drivel, but the fact stands that this show, thirteen years in, is still as controversial and talked about as it was in 1997 when they first killed Kenny. But while its courted its share of controversy, they’ve never wanted anyone killed over it. Because when it comes to matters of life or death, “Come on, it’s just a cartoon.”
If anyone out there is going to be bummed about an episode getting censored under intimidation from extremists, it’s Matt and Trey. More than anyone else in television perhaps, those two have really pushed the envelope when it comes to saying, “Oh yeah? Bring it.” Only they say it less Kirsten Dunst-y. And as bummed as they are, they’re no doubt mad that Comedy Central censored their work under fear of what is most likely all talk. The end, with Kyle’s speech about what he learned today, was just one big bleep. That speech was supposed to be all about fear and intimidation. Does this mean the terrorists won, or are Matt and Trey being reckless?
I’m prone to think the former. I want to believe that the power of our rights and liberties are stronger than threats from some group that shames its own purported religion. I want to believe that at the end of the day our amendment rights are safe and protected, even when it’s hard, because that’s when they truly matter.
At the same time, I don’t want anyone dead. Certainly not Matt and Trey, because as some know, they’re the reason I wanted to go to film school (an ultimately aborted but still very future-forming piece of my life). Mostly it was because I was desperately and awkwardly in love with Trey and just wanted an in of some kind, but it’s also because I respect them, both as artists and as people.
Revolution Muslim, you’re nothing. You’re just another group of people talking shit on the Internet, hiding behind your god because you’re not able to back up your beliefs any other way.
And of course if they’re reading this, please utilize the below blurb and believe that I still live in Chicago. Check no further. Thanks.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.