Sunday, April 25, 2010

Freedom??? Not on my watch baby!

Last week Matt Stone and Trey Parker celebrated their 200th episode of South Park. The episode basically showed every celebrity that they had ripped on in the previous 199 episodes trying to figure out a way that they could become impossible to mock, then the answer dawned on them, the one being that is never mocked…Mohammed!

If the group of celebrities could capture Mohammed, they could extract his ‘goo’ to make them impervious to mockery.

The episode was entitled ‘200’ and is below.

If you haven’t had time to watch the episode, at the end Mohammed is in a bear suit, as he isn’t allowed to be seen, and there is another group also trying to gain his powers of ‘no-mockery’, a group that has been mocked, teased and kept society kinda creeped out for generations….the gingers! So Episode 200 finishes with the gingers insisting that the people of South Park, hand over Mohammed (who is in the bear suit remember) to get his powers.

This aired in the States last week.

Then the ‘you know what’ hit the fan.

After the airing of ‘200’, a group calling themselves Revolution Muslim delivered what is now being described as ‘veiled’ death threats. Muslim Revolution now say they were just sending a warning to Stone, Parker and the South Park crew that ‘some’ Muslims have killed people before for offending their faith. Citing specifically when a Dutch filmmaker was murdered for a film that Muslims considered insulting.

You decide in this extract as printed in the NY Times
The post, written by a member named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, said the episode “outright insulted” the prophet, adding: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

You might think that a group like Revolution Muslim, may be sitting in the hills of Pakistan sending messages via grainy internet connections, and that may make sense as the ideology and fervour in some of those extremists are removed from daily Western society. Well one of the many kickers here is that Revolution Muslim is a New York based group, as Jon Stewart said, “…residing in the former shadows of the twin towers.” Crazy!

So now Parker and Stone have a decision to make, you see Episode 200 is a two-part story, the following week there is to be aired ‘201’, and like any free loving First Amendment boys they leave 201 as it is…however, Comedy Central censors it heavily, bleeping out the word ‘Mohammed’ every time it is said and bleeping out whole lines of the final wrap of the story.

The full episode is here…201

Stone and Parker had already, very cleverly censored Mohammed, as a message about ‘pointless censorship’, which is pointed out when Tom Cruise get’s Mohammed’s powers…but is still able to be mocked. Why is there a prohibition on satire on Mohammed? Why is anyone person, group or religion above the wit of a comedian?

What is Comedy Central doing? Why would you bow to the threat and basically turn this commentary of a social/political/religious issue into a waste of time, we don’t get the show kicker, we don’t get the wrap, and the only people that are happy….are still not going to be happy, even if Mohammed’s name was bleeped…it still inferred he was there.

Parker and Stone issued a statement after 201 showed.
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. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We'll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we'll see what happens to it.

Others in the Comedy Central family have come to their defence as well…
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
South Park Death Threats
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? Freedom of expression? Freedom of religion?

Where are we left? We either have freedoms…or we don’t. There is no middle ground here. Once you attach strings to freedom, then freedom is tethered and can’t be called freedom….

I guess what we have in truth in the world in 2010, is freedom that society allows us. We have freedom that the government approves. We have freedom…as long as we don’t say Mohammed

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