This week saw the airing of “South Park’s” 201st episode, the aptly named “201.” In it, celebrities and Gingers collided over possession of the Muslim prophet Mohammad who both sides believed solely possessed the ability to “never get made fun of ever.” It was a poignant episode that lived up to the hype of the series, now in its fourteenth season, reaching such a momentous milestone. It was not without controversy as, not unlike the last time creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Peace be Upon Them) flirted with broadcasting an image of Mohammad (seen as the highest level of blasphemy in certain Islamic circles, punishable by death), there was an overlying fear at the show’s home Comedy Central that death threats would be made. Little did they know that they would incur the wrath of not only Militant Muslims but a Rigorously Rowdy Redhead.
The Islam-centric threats came from the New York-based website RevolutionIslam. I’d like to quote their official statement that mentioned previous artists murdered for depicting Mohammad in the past and specific directions as to how to get to the creators’ (Peace Be Upon Them) homes, but I can’t as their website has since been hacked in the absolute most hilarious of ways. Minor as it may seem, the threat was enough to intimidate the network itself, resulting in every instance of the word “Mohammad” used in the episode being bleeped out, and a large black censor-bar completely obscuring the prophet for the entire half-hour duration. The network went one step further as to pull the episode out of its scheduled rerun slots, as well as made it, as well as every other episode that so much as mentioned the prophet (!), unavailable to stream on both Netflix and the show’s website.
Is Comedy Central overreacting? Perhaps.* Without getting into “we can’t let the terrorists win” rhetoric, I have to echo the sentiment of the show’s original “Cartoon Wars” two-parter from 2006 where, addressing the Danish Mohammad cartoon fiasco, declared that in the eyes of parody “either everything’s OK or nothing is OK.” It’s a slippery slope and, seeing as every other religion has been blasphemed to some degree, sets a dangerous precedent. Stone and Parker (Peace Be Upon Them) responded yesterday morning with this message on the show’s official website:
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.
Also angry with Stone and Parker (Peace Be Upon Them) is a red-headed Youtube “personality” named CopperCab. You’ve probably seen his original outrage video from a few months ago venting his frustration with the show’s treatment of “Gingers,” people born with red hair, pale skin and freckles:
Which became such a phenomenon that the boys (Peace Be Upon Them) aired a clip of Cartman recreating the video as a commercial for the show’s season premiere:
Of course Coppercab saw the clip and, channeling the spirit of Mick Foley, came back with this:
Personally, I find the idea of one of the biggest franchises in cable-television history targeting an obscure 18-year-old boy for something he said on the internet to be hilarious. Coppercab seems non-plused by the entire thing and, following the implicating of Gingers in the last episode, came back with this:
Folks, if you’re like me, you can’t stop watching those opening three seconds. Incredible. I’d make the kid one of my favorite nutzoids, but I’m not convinced his sheer insanity has peaked yet. Could the Gingers and Radical Islam perhaps be in cahoots? Is this a multi-national conspiracy to get “South Park” removed once and for all? How will Matt and Trey (Peace Be Upon Them) respond on Wednesday? Now that we finally know Cartman’s father, it looks like every truth will be coming forward soon.
So until next time…let’s agree to agree!
UPDATE CUPCAKE: As of 3:15 PM ET on April 23rd 2010 AD, London has REFUSED to air episode “201.” More on this as it develops.
*And by “perhaps” I mean “yes.”