Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It's bloody sacrilege!

Offensive language warning*. Skip this first blue passage if you're easily offended. Hell, skip the whole post.
"Defamer" at Yahoo! News reports, "Bloody Mary" Episode Ensures South Park Guys a Bungalow in Hell: Perhaps the most outrageous and offensive South Park episode of all time (and that's really saying something), "Bloody Mary," which first aired Dec. 7 as this season's finale, was pulled from the network schedule last night. Its plot involves a statue of the Virgin Mary, which appears to be miraculously bleeding from its rectum. Pope Benedict XVI is called in to investigate, and upon discovering the statue is instead hemorrhaging from its vagina, says, ahem, "A chick bleeding out her vagina is no miracle. Chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time." Quoting from the E Online article, Somewhat predictably, the Catholic League was incensed by the satirical portrayal of the Virgin Mary and the pope and by the fact that the episode aired on the day before the Catholic Church celebrated its Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The conservative group demanded an apology from Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, to Roman Catholics everywhere and "a pledge that this episode be permanently retired and not be made available on DVD." The Catholic League succeeded, apparently. We may never see this episode again. Was it tasteless? Yeah. South Park often is. Can I see how this would offend devout Catholics? Sure, but . . . why the hell are they watching South Park in the first place? And is Defamer right that this is "Perhaps the most outrageous and offensive South Park episode of all time"? Max from says it well: South Park lambasts homosexuals, transsexuals, Scientologists, vegans, Jews, Mormons, atheists and everyone else under the sun. But suddenly the Catholics are off limits? They've nailed the Catholics before; in "Red Hot Catholic Love," Trey and Matt skewered the Church on their hypocrisy vis a vis pedophilia. But they don't pick on the Catholics -- that's Max's point. They pick on everyone. My Japanese-American wife isn't offended by the Chinpokomon episode. I'm not offended by the fact Cartman slams Kyle for being Jewish in every single episode. In "Ike's Wee Wee", the writers dealt with circumcision, while in "Jewbilee", they misrepresented the whole religion. (Jews worship Moses, who appears in the sky as a spinning draedel and demands sacrifices of macaroni art.)
God Himself shows up from time to time on South Park. In case you haven't seen Him, He looks like this:
Devout Jews (like Moslems, too, if I'm not mistaken) don't want to see images of God (or Moses, for that matter), so any image is sacrilegious. Depicting God as a freak of genetic engineering? Well, that's just icing on the cake. Jesus is a regular character on the show, and (in "Red Sleigh Down") once used automatic weapons to gun down a bunch of Iraqis who had kidnapped Santa Claus. AND don't forget Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo.
There's something in South Park to offend everyone. Is there anyone in the English-speaking universe who doesn't already know this? I've been offended by them, too -- not for any of their Jewish jokes, but for their occasional support of questionable political positions. (For example, if I remember correctly, their "Rainforest Schmainforest" episode got my goat.) Usually, but not always, South Park is funny as hell. That buys them a lot of mileage in my opinion. Tasteless and humorless media deserves the fate it gets -- a rapid fall into a cultural black hole. (Does anyone but me remember Joan Rivers' movie Rabbit Test?) But if you're funny, hey, I'll cut you some slack. It's not the first thing that comes to mind when I watch South Park, but the show is also a wonderful demonstration of the First Amendment in action. Enjoy it while it lasts. Do we really need another voice to say, "If you don't like it, don't watch it"? D. *Maureen, to answer your question: since now.


Blogger Invisible Lizard said...

First of all, this sort of publicity will likely make it one of the more popular episodes ever, even if it's just via uploading and downloading across and around the internet.

Second, that's supposed to be a spinning draedel? I mean, I see it now, but I thought they were, in some way, equating Moses to that thing at the end of Tron, and I was very confused.

1/12/2006 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Gal said...

I will always associate "Red Hot Catholic Love" with the birth of my second child. I watched that in the hospital the day after she was born. I kept thinking all through that episode, "Okay, they can't go any farther than that." and then they would go farther than that. The depiction of John Paul II as a rotting half corpse on the throne of the church I will never forget. Also the comment "hey why did we become priests if not to molest little boys and they won't tell?" Man. Catholic League needs to buy a clue from the Baptists, who totally shut up about Brokeback Mountain because they knew anything they said would drive people into the theatres.

1/12/2006 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Liz -- yup, it's a draedel. I think ;o)

Yeah, blue gal, I see this as a bonehead move, too. I suspect Viacom caved under threat of a boycott -- that's my guess.

1/12/2006 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Pat Kirby said...

The facts. Humor is always hurtful. All humor. Whether it's a physical gag like slipping on a banana peel, or something more cerebral, there is always a loser in a joke.

Some humor is more hurtful and caustic than other. When I find something offensive (rarely, I'm Hispanic and love humor slung at Mexicans), I change the station/channel.

Oooo, the power of the click.

1/12/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Robot Buddha said...

There are soooo many other things to get worked up over. It's a cartoon! And you're right: change the channel if you don't want to watch.

1/12/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

I loved Red Sleigh Down. Also the one when Jesus went WWE on Santa Claus. And I was a children's pastor. What does that say about me?

1/12/2006 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

Isn't that why God made the clicker?

I don't know whether to be impressed or terrified by the apparent power of the Catholic church. That creeps me out more than the tacky jokes.

I've never watched South Park before because I figured it wasn't my kind of humor. Now I'm gonna have to watch an episode just to find out what all the brou-ha-ha is about.

I agree with blue gal [and everybody else;-)] this wasn't the smartest choice of action.

I also find it interesting that they never griped about anybody else being slammed on. Why is it okay to slam Jews [and other Christians, for that matter] but not the Catholic church?

1/12/2006 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Remember "That's My Bush"?--pulled from television after 4 episodes? That show offended ME, but I loved it. What offended me more was the blatant control of television by the government, and its not exactly new. Oh, and I saw that episode of South Park, and I thought it was hilarious. Oh those poor, poor Catholics. They are such an opressed MINORITY. *rolls her eyes*

1/12/2006 08:46:00 PM  

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