Posted tagged ‘first amendment’

South Park vs. Militant Islamic Radicals & One Angry Red-Headed Kid

April 23, 2010

I spy with my little eye something that is BLASPHEMOUS!

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.

One of these things is not like the others...

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.”

A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell – Movie Review

April 9, 2010

Yes, this exists

New York’s Troma Studios has been a a revolutionary force in the movie industry for almost 40 years. Fiercely independent, they remain America’s oldest non-Union non-Hollywood affiliated film company that has maintained an instantly-recognizible brand identity second only to Disney. A big part of their longevity has been always remaining at the forefront of new technology. They were the FIRST movie studio to have a website, the FIRST movie studio to max out the potential of DVDs (which included fully interactive studio tours, commentaries and extensive trivia games as early as 1997) and have maintained a loyalty and direct communication with their audience that countless upstarts have failed to duplicate. 2010 marks another milestone for them as they’ve become the first entity to come under a tidal wave of controversy for hosting their films on Hulu, namely the astounding success of a film named A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell.

Leave it to Troma to have a movie named A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell in the headline of every major blog and news outlet 20 years after it was released. I first discovered Troma with my late best friend Matt Amundsen in 8th grade and, to make a long story short, we became completely enamored with the brand. From the logo to the always infectious VHS introductions from Troma President Lloyd Kaufman to just the flat out absurdity of every film they released, we felt like we were more than just movie fans, we were part of a movement. This was 2000 when the video industry was going through its final boom period so the two of us would go through the phone book to find every video store we could in efforts to see everything Troma put out. Not a weekend would go by without call-and-response answering machine messages of “Chaz, the Video Update in St. Anthony has Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D.,” “Matt, the Hollywood Video in Hiltop has Rabid Grannies,” “Chaz, the Mr. Movies in Stillwater has Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator,” “Matt, Movies-to-Go Video has Video Demons Do Psychotown” etc. The look on our parents’ faces when they overheard the answering machine messages, or those of my teachers in high school when I would bring up movies like Surf Nazis Must Die, Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell and Curse of the Cannibal Confederates as part of a discussion in class were arguably as entertaining as the films themselves.

For a company that thrives predominately on word-of-mouth, having film titles that bear repeating is a tremendous asset. Despite my own feelings on the film, I even named the most popular post in the history of this site after Troma’s Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid. It’s that quotability that has most likely played a big part in A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell’s success. With Hulu basically being a Youtube run by the major networks and film studios, they’ve found a modern-media compromise by offering their content for a limited time with inserted commercial interruptions. While most companies have uploaded content for only two-to-five weeks, Troma has uploaded the bulk of their catalog’s most popular titles and left them online infinitely for everyone (18+) to see. As a result, tags such as “Sex” and “Nudity” have accumulated on the applicable films and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell has become the site’s third most popular film WITHOUT A SINGLE DOLLAR SPENT ON ADVERTISING!

Yes, this is a thing.

Troma’s promotion of their catalog has always been the stuff of legends, but this is incredible. A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell was filmed in 1990 under the title Lost Fortress. Troma acquired the rights to it in ’91, used outtakes from FIVE of their other films to make an additional opening scene* and changed the title to A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. Since then, the film has been one of the studio’s most known pickups. It’s been translated into several languages and made a splash in any market it’s ever been released in despite the overwhelming negative opinion of the film shared by just about everyone, including director Brett Piper whose 1998 DVD commentary where he ruthlessly vivisects his own film has become an industry in-joke and hallmark of the medium.

A film dramatically improved by its remorseful creator bemoaning it. A must hear.

The most recent public flogging of A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell came from Slate Magazine’s Chadwick Wilson’s article A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell: Hulu’s Mega-Popular Movie about Child-Molestation. where the author took the film’s trailer tagline “The Prehistoric Meets the Prepubescent” all too literally and “deconstructs” the film as a Jurassic child rape fantasy. As a product of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts myself, I’m all too familiar with the chastising a film for “othering through the masculine gaze of capitalism within the feminine mystique” and how it is largely an excuse for unwashed ugly lonely people to prove how much smarter they are than you. Here, he grabs for whatever straws he can with such language as “the age and sexuality of the lead actress seems deliberately ambiguous” when, to those of us watching the film, she’s CLEARLY in her 20s. This and bits of the films actual content are sprinkled into only about two paragraphs with the bulk of the article expressing outrage that the film not only exists without public protest, but the audacity of Hulu to even let this film be broadcast.

FUN FACT: Troma made up the work Nymphoid just to creep you out!

Realistically, all Chadwick has succeeded in proving is that Troma’s films, including A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell are going to be around forever. While most movies have value solely in what happens from credits-to-credits, A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell has amassed a legacy. It’s a film where very little happens (some great stop-motion animation giant-creature fight scenes in-between what seems like hours of sweaty cloth-laden humans running around with no real legitimate purpose. It’s basically Burning Man with Dinosaurs) but much has been said. It’s a strange piece of cult lore. Even at age 14 when I saw the film’s Amazon.com page full of universally bad reviews, even by Troma standards, I had to order it. I didn’t like the film then, I don’t like it now, but that doesn’t really matter as it’s named A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell and I’m thrilled that it exists. Even in 2010 where every video store Matt and I used to frequent has gone the way of the dinosaur (and nymphoid barbarian) it brings a smile to my face that there’s a whole new generation of teenagers out there saying “Guess what? Hulu has Star Worms II: Attack of the Pleasure Pods,” “Man, you gotta see Fatty Drives the Bus” and “Hey, you wanna come over tonight and watch A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell?” It’s from Troma…of course.

We give A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell a Two Out of Five.

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Watch the entire film by clicking HERE or anywhere else in this sentence.

*The only one in the film worth watching.