Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More on South Park and Scientology

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were interviewed by this month's US GQ - check it out here.

The whole interview's great. Here's what they say about Tom Cruise and Scientology:

Sean Penn was upset about his portrayal in Team America. Do you hear from celebrities you’ve mocked on South Park?

TP: We have this running joke: As soon as we put someone in, we know the next day we’ll hear from his publicist saying how great the show was. It didn’t happen with Tom Cruise, though, I’ll tell you that.

I thought the greatest thing about that episode was the subtitle you guys had, where you say, “This is what Scientologists actually believe.” Just completely straightforward: This is what they believe.

TP: It was just like, Here it is, animated. A lot of religious stories, if you animate what they say, look pretty ridiculous. You could animate the entire Book of Mormon and it would be hysterical.

What took you so long to take on Scientology? Was the network worried about it?

TP: To be honest, what kept us from doing it before was Isaac Hayes [who does the voice of Chef]. We knew he was a Scientologist. And he’s an awesome guy. We’re like, Let’s just avoid that for now. But we’re friends with Penn Jillette, and Showtime wouldn’t let him do an episode of Bullshit! on Scientology. We’re going, That’s fucked up. And hearing other people say, “You can’t do that,”—you can only say “You can’t do that” so many times to Matt and me before we’re gonna do it. Finally, we just had to tell Isaac, “Dude, we totally love working with you, and this is nothing personal, it’s just we’re South Park, and if we don’t do this, we’re belittling everything else we’ve ripped on.” So we realized we had to do it, and now that we’ve done it, now it’s like we’ve sort of opened the floodgates. People will be less scared.

Did the network have any notes on the episode?

TP: They didn’t want us to say “pyramid scheme.” A pyramid scheme is illegal, and if you’re saying that they’re breaking the law, you run into a whole different category of slander; it’s not really parody anymore. It’s always fascinating, what you can and can’t do. And it’s always so easy to get around. You can rip on anyone.

Another highlight:

TP: We’re almost disappointed when we don’t hear from anyone. The notes are really inconsistent. In the first year, they’re like, “You can’t say ‘fag.’ There’s no way. And you can’t say, ‘That’s gay,’ because it’s offensive to homosexuals.” It’s like, Yeah, but that’s how kids talk. Finally, Mr. Garrison could say ‘fag’ because he said, “I’m gay. That means that now I can say the word fag. ” Now, nine years later, Garrison can scream, “We’ll see about this, you fudge-packing fags!” to two gay people who want to get married. It’s funny to watch the evolution. I don’t know if evolution is the right word, but it’s funny.

Do you ever worry about going too far? I thought the Rent parody in Team America, with the song lyric Everyone has AIDS! / AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS! walked right up to that line.

MS: Did you see the new “We All Have AIDS” campaign? I was actually at Barney’s—which I’m kind of embarrassed to say—and they were selling these T-shirts. It’s like, Will Smith and Archbishop Tutu and Tom Hanks and all these fucking people. And there are these T-shirts that say WE ALL HAVE AIDS. Meaning we as a planet. And I’m sitting there going, “I don’t fucking have AIDS.” You know what I mean? I know a guy who is HIV-positive, and he’s like, “Dude, I don’t have AIDS, and I’m fucking glad.” As ridiculous as you try to make it, a year later everyone is saying, “We all have AIDS.”

Oh, and in case anyone in the world still hasn't seen the Tom Cruise episode, here's that link again. Click here

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