South Park Creators: We Can’t Show Pictures of Mohammad or Tom Cruise
Trey Parker and Matt Stone of the hit Comedy Central series “South Park” were recently interviewed during MTV Networks Television Critics Association tour as reported by Reuters, and the irreverent duo made some interesting statements about episodes of theirs that have been censored: “The creators of ‘South Park’ lambasted Comedy Central Thursday for removing an episode that lampooned Scientology and Tom Cruise from the network's repeat schedule and for blanking out the image of Muhammad during another.” Parker said, “‘So there are two things we can't do on Comedy Central: show Muhammad or Tom Cruise.’”
The article elaborated: “Parker and Matt Stone said they had no doubt that the ‘Trapped in the Closet’ episode was yanked as a result of Cruise's starring this summer in ‘Mission: Impossible III,’ the movie from Paramount, Comedy Central's sister company.”
As for the Mohammad episode:
Regarding the decision not to air the image of Muhammad during the "Cartoon Wars" episode, the pair said it was a corporate decision that could become a slippery slope if other groups begin making threats and affecting content. They also noted that Muhammad seems to be off limits, while it is "open season" on Jesus, who happens to be a "South Park" character. (Depictions of Muhammad are strictly prohibited in Islam.)
It appears even bigwigs at the network now question this decision:
Comedy Central president Doug Herzog admitted, "It's tough, but I think I would say we did overreact. ... Matt and Trey enjoy a fair amount of creative freedom. History might show that we overreacted, and we will live with that."
He added that the image probably will not be shown on the DVD version either, but "I look forward to the day when we can uncover it."
UPDATE 12:08 by Matthew Sheffield: Bill Goodykoontz writing at the Arizone Republic has more about the Cruise episode:
The funny thing is that Trapped was just nominated for an Emmy – the only episode Stone and Parker submitted. The funnier thing is WHY it was the only episode they submitted.
“I don’t think it was our best show last year by any means,” Parker said. But when they were informed that Comedy Central wouldn’t be repeating it or including it on the DVD (both decisions have since changed), they decided to submit it.
“We just did it to be (jerks), really,” Stone said.
There’s no question that a lot of people find both "South Park" and Stone and Parker offensive. Certainly that’s a valid opinion. But there’s also no question that in a town full of people who don’t say what they mean, act in constant fear of damaging their reputation and communicate only through microscopically vetted public-relations releases, they and their show are as welcome as a cold beer on a hot day.