Still not convinced

I swear this will be my last South Park-related post of the night… :)

I still think this whole thing may be a publicity stunt, with Comedy Central and its “spokesmen” and “statements” all part of the joke. It could be like April Fools Day writ large — they might be working the blogosphere up into a mighty lather, only to start next week’s episode with something totally unexpected, like, oh I dunno, Muhammad randomly appearing at the very beginning of the episode and saying “Just kidding!”, followed by a regular show unrelated to “Cartoon Wars.” I’m not necessarily predicting this, but I definitely don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility.

One thing we’re forgetting amid all the talk about Mohammed carrying a salmon helmet and Jesus crapping on the American flag is what appeared at the end of the “Al Qaeda Films Production” that constituted the terrorist “retaliation” to the Family Guy episode: the words “THE END,” with a question mark:

The words appeared first, and then the question mark was “drawn” underneath them. You can see for yourself by downloading the last ten minutes of the episode here.

What does it mean, exactly? I suppose it could be interpreted as asking the same thing Glenn asked: Is this “the end” of South Park? But I think a more likely explanation is, they’re implying that this story, this saga, this brilliant bit of comedy isn’t really over just yet.

Why do I still suspect, all official statements to the contrary, that the censorship might not be real? Because, no matter how cynical I try to be, it still seems unbelieveable. The notion that a network as relatively edgy as Comedy Central would censor on first viewing something as objectively non-offensive as an image of Muhammed standing in a doorway with a football helmet — even though there have been no protests, no riots, no threats, nobody publicly demanding that they do so — strikes me as very, very fishy. It’s one thing to be intimidated into silence by real threats; it’s wrong, but it’s not hard to believe. But to be silenced by hypothetical intimidation? Is Comedy Central that timid? Would they really censor their biggest show because of a bunch of riots on a different continent regarding an unrelated matter? There was nothing to fear at all. There was no threat to “public safety.” Nobody was asking Comedy Central not to air the image… not CAIR, not anybody!

And yes, they pulled the Virgin Mary and Scientology episodes, but that was only a question of whether to re-run them — i.e., the censorship occurred after the episodes’ initial airing. And why were they pulled? In the first case, it was because of a massive outcry, and in the second case, it was because Tom Cruise threatened the network’s corporate parent with serious economic retaliation. Here, there is no outcry and no blackmail. The fact that Comedy Central caved under those first two circumstances does not necessarily imply that they would be likely to cave here. Indeed, this whole thing could be a very convoluted image rehabilitation effort for the network: by ultimately proclaiming that they were kidding, and allowing Muhammad to air next week, they could look like great defenders of free speech, and wipe the Catholic and Scientology controversies out of everyone’s minds.

Bottom line, we’re supposed to believe that the network which aired the “Super Best Friends” (and has had no problems re-running it) has a blanket policy against airing any images of Muhammad… even though he’s in their opening credits?! I smell a rat!!

So, yeah, I’m still skeptical of this. I will be watching next week, and I won’t be at all surprised if Matt and Trey have something else still up their sleeves.

14 Responses to “Still not convinced”

  1. ScottF says:

    Could Parker and Stone believe in April Fools’ Month?

  2. Briandot says:

    Can’t somebody f**king riot already? The tension is killing me.

  3. Alex says:

    “The notion that a network as relatively edgy as Comedy Central would censor on first viewing something as objectively non-offensive as an image of Muhammed standing in a doorway with a football helmet â€â€? even though there have been no protests, no riots, no threats, nobody publicly demanding that they do so â€â€? strikes me as very, very fishy.

    Well, there was a salmon on the helmet.

  4. Andrew says:

    Don’t rule out Comedy Central airing the Scientology episode again post-MI3.

  5. dfx says:

    I agree with you. The show was actually funnier with the censored message instead of showing Muhammad. It made the hype even more ironic, and it fit into the whole meta-cartoon concept that was hard to miss (for long time fans).

    1. Consider the opening sequence from last night’s episode. After a few moments reminding us of the last episode, we’re greeted with a message that says, “Tonight’s episode will not be seen tonight so we can bring you this special Terence & Phillip movie.” Old fans of the show will remember that this happened with the first episode of Season Two when we were supposed to learn the identity of Cartman’s father after the previous season’s cliffhanger episode. Instead of concluding that episode (after several weeks of HYPE), we were given a full length Terence & Phillip episode. Many fans were very upset that all of the hype was turned on its head, even though the episode was great.

    2. The week after the Terence & Phillip episode (which featured the first appearance of Saddam Hussein in the series) we were finally given the second episode regarding the identity of Cartman’s father. Eventually, we discover that his mother is a hermaphrodite and is actually his father. When the voice-over announcer then asks, “Who is Cartman’s real mother?” Cartman just says, “Forget it!” So, the fans of the show patiently waited for the identity of Cartman’s parents and we still haven’t found out who they are. The episodes, however, are hilarious.

    3. Consider the episode ‘It Hits The Fan’, more commonly referred to as the Shit Episode. The townspeople sit through an entire episode of the show ‘Cop Drama’ to hear the word ‘Shit’ on television. At the very end of the show, one of the cops says to the other, “Oh, you’ve got a little shit on the side of your mouth there.” Another example of the irony of watching a TV show for the one joke that has been advertised over and over and over again.

    4. What is the chief complaint about Family Guy? That it is comprised of nothing but references to objectionable material or 80’s references. Showing Muhammad on this episode would not have been funny, it would have only been shocking and objectionable. What’s funny about South Park? The jokes only work within the context of the episode. After censoring Muhammad on FOX and CBC and then continuing to hype the episode, it’s hilarious that Comedy Central would censor the image, too. Showing Muhammad would have only been shocking, and not exactly very funny.

    I am still open to the possibility that Comedy Central actually censored the image. But I think it’s still funnier with the censored message, and I think that it is in sync with the humor that has been established previously.

  6. Mark says:

    Great post Mr. Loy. We shall see how this plays out. Now I think I will check out the rest of your blog for a while.

  7. South Park GSiHoW: part 2

    In an unexpected move, Comedy Central’s South Park actually aired a sequel to last weeks “Cartoon of Mohammad/Head in the Sand/Family Guy is poorly written” episode that drew praise across the blogosphere for its satirical handling of the Islamic pr…

  8. Plunkster says:

    I think we are all missing the point here. Read the AP story closely. We know they throw these episodes together in a very short amount of time, yet the AP story says Matt and Trey were told they couldn’t use the Muhammad image several weeks ago. Here’s my theory (take it for what it’s worth): They were told they couldn’t use Muhammad as a central character in a storyline about the cartoons so they decided to go as far overboard as they possibly could with the episode and make the appearance of Muhammad a complete non-sequiter. The plot of the episode last night seemed like it went: this is why censorship is bad; look at the random, non-offensive, absurd thing CC is censoring that has no plot value whatsoever; look at what the suits are actually letting us show you (the retaliation film). The only problem is that it didn’t work well because Comedy Central as an institution can’t admit they actually censored something in an episode about censorship for obvious reasons and Matt & Trey can’t come clean about it since they want to continue a working relationship with Comedy Central. In a couple of days someone in Viacom management will come up with a way to applaud Matt and Trey’s creativity while distancing themselves from Jesus taking a dump on the American flag. Otherwise, you are going to have to wait until the series is cancelled and they write a tell-all book about it.

  9. Billy Packer says:

    “Otherwise, you are going to have to wait until the series is cancelled and they write a tell-all book about it.”

    Wouldn’t that be a horrible fate. WHY? Why have you forsaken us?

  10. Sean Vivier says:

    I’m with Trey and Matt on this. I really am, for all the reasons already mentioned. But I would love to see them lampooned in turn. Maybe on Family Guy. Peter says, “This is worse than that time I met the creators of South Park!” Flash to Peter and Trey and Matt at a sci-fi convention beside the L. Ron Hubbard booth. The two are talking about how much they hate celebrities spouting their opinions. Peter notes, “But… you’re celebrities spouting your opinions.” Matt and Trey counter by making fun of the (insert random, unnecessary homophobic slur here) who always talk about how dangerous smoking is and how bad pollution is. Peter counters with statistics. A beat. Trey calls him a pussy. Flash forward to the original scene, where the dumb kid says, “I love those guys! They’re so articulate and well-informed!”

  11. Scientizzle says:

    Sean…that would be hilarious!
    I would so watch that.

    I think Parker/Stone and MacFarlane should tag-team this issue. It would be an explosion of high-level satire with obligitory low-brow humor.

  12. Tony P says:

    Peter says, “This is worse than that time I met the creators of South Park!� Flash to Peter and Trey and Matt at a sci-fi convention beside the L. Ron Hubbard booth. The two are talking about how much they hate celebrities spouting their opinions. Peter notes, “But… you’re celebrities spouting your opinions.� Matt and Trey counter by making fun of the (insert random, unnecessary homophobic slur here) who always talk about how dangerous smoking is and how bad pollution is. Peter counters with statistics. A beat. Trey calls him a pussy. Flash forward to the original scene, where the dumb kid says, “I love those guys! They’re so articulate and well-informed!�

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read in my life. Kindly kill yourself just in case some idiot actually gives you a job writing for sitcoms one day.

  13. Little She says:

    It just showed that Christians have a sense of homour (and was a way of making fun x 2 of fundamental terrorists). Kinda like the “no cartoon image of muhammad magnet from http://www.teqz.net .