Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Issue at the heart of the episode.

I am a huge South Park fan. My first ep was "Chinpokomon", but I didn't start watching regularly until probably "Something you can do with Your Finger"

There are a few things ticking me off about the news coverages of the 201 controversy. Mostly there is almost no context for it so I will do my best to summarize things.

The Cartoon

In September of 2005, the danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, printed cartoons that showed the Islam Prophet Mohammad along with an article. If you can't read dutch here is a Google translated version. Immediately after there were a number of protests throughout the world some of which were violent. According to The New York Times at least 200 people died in the resulting riots.

Here is a video from a interview from one of the cartoonists on the danish telvision show "In all Honesty from 2008.

Also here is an article written by the editor of the Danish newspaper published in the Washington Post.

The Economist Fires the First Shot in the Cartoon Wars

By early 2006 several media outlets had reported on the cartoon and the riots and as can be expected there were several opinions about it. In February 2006 the Economist published an opinion article entitled "The Limits to Free Speech: Cartoon wars".

Unfortunately I don't subscribe to the economist so I can only tell you tidbits of what I heard and it might be wrong. But I believe the article makes the point that while free speech has its limits (libel and slander) that it is not a value worth giving up to appease radicals.

"So what the Heck does this all have to do with South Park"

In 2006 one of my favorite episodes aired. "Cartoon Wars". In that episode the writers of family guy decide to insert a joke about the Islam prophet Mohammad into the show and its censored out but the writers demand that in the next episode that he be fully shown.

Notice how the only person in the clip really upset is Cartman. The thing you have to know in order to get the clip is that Cartman is a jerk at best and an depraved villain without conscience at worse. Anything written in his mouth is is going to be either an uncomfortable truth or at odds to what the creators think and also kind of evil.

Just to make the point what he does in this two-parter is considered by many fans to be one of the most evil plans he came up with in the entire series.

Though it doesn't compare to the time he ground up a kid's parents and made him eat them in his chili, while licking his tears and making his favorite band watch as he wept.

And Now for 200

Reaching your 200th episode is a big deal for any series. I love Lucy not counting all the spin offs only made it to about 179. Heck, only about 80 TV shows since the 1950's have made it that far and most of them are considered classics. Most modern TV shows try to do something special for the fans when they get that far. South Park decided to revisit several old plot lines and characters.

That kid who Cartman made eat his parents is back and coo coo for coco puffs. May the great ginger conspiracy kick Cartman in the nuts for what he did in season 9. The super best friends from season 5, Mecha Streisand from season 1, and Mitch Connor aka Jenifer Lopez from season 9 all make an appearance.

In this season 14 2-episode continuity nod for fans who stuck with them for so long the creators decided to give a nod the to cartoon wars plot. And of course it involves showing the prophet Mohammad.

A website, issued a warning on its website stating that what the creators were doing could get them killed. I'm not going to comment on if thats a death threat or not since it seems, especially after reading their statements in the backlash that they were saying violence could come from somewhere else but even if I give them that. Well Kyle said it best in Cartoon wars.

You can't give into them just because they are threatening you with violence.

But that's just what comedy central did. They censored out Mohammad in Cartoon Wars in the last scene but it was only 2 seconds so no one noticed. They did the same thing in 201 but this time however people noticed. Not only that but in a season 5 episode "Super Best Friends" way back in the day they had showed him uncensored.

Here is an interview Matt and Trey did with Boing Boing a week prior to it airing.

Every verbal mention of Mohammad his animation, and even the concluding speech of the episode were censored. Needless to say this went against Matt and Trey's, the creators of the shows wished and they issued a statement.

In Conclusion

First off I support Matt and Trey, not just because I love the show but because I want to be a writer and at the end of the day free speech matters a great deal to me and to the very concept of democracy.

Second, I am kind of peeved at the mainstream media. When watching the reports they never seemed to comment on the episode itself and even when they did they didn't mention the political stances on free speech the creators had already made in "Cartoon Wars" which at least to me seem to be at the heart of both the in episode and out of episode issues. Its like were watching "Cartoon Wars" but in real life and its sad.

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