They continued in subsequent weeks to add glancing China rejoinders to the show, including an elbow thrown this week at NBA star LeBron James for his dissembling over the China affair. The stakes are significant for Viacom and its media peers, with untold billions on the line, so conversations aimed at shoring up relations have been taking place away from the media spotlight. CBS, soon to merge with Viacomrecently faced its own dust-up over Chinese censorship.
In the past year, the show and its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, won their first Emmy and were also honored with a Peabody for best electronic media. But the year was also fraught with moments of censorship that caused the show's creators to wonder if the world had changed so much in the last 10 years that "South Park" could really no longer thrive.
So we were starting to say, 'I don't know that this is a world that 'South Park' can live in.
After all, in the fictional town of South Park, Colo. We're not Muslim, so it's OK. After all, Muslims worldwide had rioted over insulting depictions of Mohammed in a newspaper in Denmark.
It seemed odd to the creators of "South Park," who had been and were still allowed to depict Jesus in any number of profane ways. In fact, the episode in question, "Cartoon Wars," shows a cartoon supposedly created by al Qaeda in which Jesus defecates on President Bush.
Open Season on Jesus "That's where we kind of agree with some of the people who've criticized our show," Stone says.
We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We've had him say bad words. We've had him shoot a gun. We've had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn't just show a simple image. That's what you're afraid of. Comedy Central copped to that, you know: 'We're afraid of getting blown up.
It began as a short film, "The Spirit of Christmas," made as a video cartoon for an entertainment executive to send to friends that featured Santa Claus and Jesus fighting.
Its creators have stayed true to the spirit of "Spirit," taking on Tom Cruise implying that the twice-married father is gay , as well as Cruise's religion Stan declares that "Scientology is just a big fat global scam". But when the episode "Trapped in the Closet" Cruise hides in the closet and refuses to come out was scheduled to be rebroadcast, Comedy Central pulled the plug.
After weeks of negative publicity, Comedy Central agreed to broadcast the show. We're ready. And I think we've done that, and I think we've done it in a bigger way than we ever will in the future. So it'd be nice to make some more shows and some more movies, but it'd also be really nice to go to a farm and raise some goats and have some kids.
You know what I mean? I mean, that would be really nice, too. At the beginning of the last run I thought we were really close.
I thought it was like this might be it. But then, you know, we were able to still do a Mohammed show and do it the way we wanted, which was to do it and then say, 'All right, Comedy Central, you're a network, you have a right to do with this what you want, so we're making it this way.
And then if you want to take out the image of Mohammed, that's fine, you can do that, but we're also going to make the show about you taking out the image of Mohammed. The forces of the deal made it so that depending on what we say, they can turn it around and finally turn it all into a lawsuit.
As for Cruise, Parker acknowledges that "he's got total reason to be offended. Which is funny.
You know, I mean, people have implied we're gay, and we haven't sued anybody. I don't give a s if somebody says I'm gay. That's the difference. That's superfunny. He's like Michael Jackson. South Park and Atheists?
In addition to garnering the show tons of media attention, the episode caused a disturbance within the "South Park" family.
Musician and actor Isaac Hayes, who played the character Chef and is a Scientologist, quit. And after a while, we were like, you know, we've made fun of everything else.
There's just too much funny stuff there.
We have to do it. And if he quits, that's his right, and then he did so. Parker says he considers himself religious, but it would take him a long time to explain it. Both say they believe in God. I mean, I'm fascinated by religion.
God sent his only son. Why could God only have one son and why would he have to die? It's just bad writing, really.
And it's really terrible in about the second act. Just 'cuz. That to me, is the most ridiculous explanation ever," he says. If no speech was offensive to anybody, then you wouldn't need to guarantee it.
That is just my dad. Even Stan's last name, Marsh, was my dad's stepfather's name. So my dad grew up Randy Marsh.
And he is, by far, the biggest dingbat in the entire show. And we've had him, you know, with his pants down, drunk, throwing up, you know. And my dad was a great dad. He's a great dad. And my dad is constantly like: 'Why did you do that to me? But it doesn't mean I'm not going to rip on him.