by Marc "Grandma Tiberius Dynamite" Kandel
Nobody Expects the Court of Public Opinion!
Hear Ye Hear Ye, All Rise. Kourt is now in session. The mostly honorable Judge Kandel presiding. I had to pull double time to get this one in before the airing of South Park this evening, but I just made it, so read quickly. Try and finish before 10pm EST. That way I can be relevant for another half hour.
CASE I: Things that make you go Hmmmmn…
Chef: Hello there, children.
Stan: Chef! What would a priest want to stick up my butt?
DEFENDANTS: Issac Hayes, Tom Cruise, Viacom
THE CRIME: (1) Hayes’ alleged unbridled and hypocritical chutzpah setting Civil Rights back at least a couple of weeks by horrifically Uncle Tomming it up at the whims of his nefarious cult masters. (2) Cruise once again crusading under his banner of Scientology, allegedly strong-arming a repeat episode of South Park he took objection to right off the air, to which Viacom allegedly obliged willingly and with great speed. But did it all really happen, or was it just one of those pesky rips in the space-time continuum?
THE CASE (broken into two parts):
Part 1: A very ugly, self-righteous resignation from a decade-long profitable relationship with the extremely popular, always controversial South Park cartoon on Comedy Central, now into its 10th season. Hayes, voicing the character Jerome “Chef” McElroy has wholeheartedly participated in the creative deconstruction and satire of any and all races, creeds, religions, beliefs, politics, fads, celebrities, and his own image with unabashed relish since the show’s inception in 1997 with good humor and enthusiasm…up until now, that is. On November 16, 2005 an episode took aim at his sacred cow, the questionable quasi-religious institution known as the Church of Scientology, of which he is a member.
Evidence: Supposedly from the mouth of Hayes himself: "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins….(R)eligious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."
Of course, this flies directly in the face of an excerpt of Hayes’ statements from this last December, a month after the airing of the episode in question, on Opie & Anthony's XM Radio show, addressing the episode itself (reprinted in the NY Daily News):
"One thing about Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker], they lampoon everybody, and if you take that s--- serious, then I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for $2."
And even more to the contrary, an excerpt from a Hayes Interview with The Onion:
AV Club: They did just do an episode that made fun of your religion, Scientology. Did that bother you?
Hayes: Well, I talked to Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] about that. They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, 'Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that [expletive], you know?' But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses and understand what we do. [Laughs.]
Given the lucrative, high profile ten-year relationship with an infamous series that has been very good to him, you can see how this sudden, selective morality falls a bit short of sincere, particularly after the two latter comments. You might also see the outlines of a chuckling shadow cabal behind the man using him to make sure nobody slurs their breadwinning scheme with something so inconveniencing as the exposure of truth. But is it really that cut and dry? Did Hayes actually walk away from the show or even provide the first quote at all?
The Kourt calls for prosecution to make their arguments: Co-Creator Matt Stone has already hoisted Hayes on his own proverbial petard in an interview with the AP: "This is 100% having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem -- and he's cashed plenty of checks -- with our show making fun of Christians.”
"…We never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
Hmmn… Seems pretty clear cut to me.
In the Hollywood Reporter: "In 10 years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews,"
Oh why stop there Matt? Don’t leave off Gays, Blacks, Chinese, Satanists, Celebrities, Police, FBI, US Government, Canadians, French, Baldwins, Underpants Gnomes,…the list goes on and on. We should really get a good view of the satiric tapestry Mr. Hayes has been so kind to help this series weave, only to drop his threads at the snap of his clan’s fingers, four months after the episode saw airtime. It seems like he has done his best to retroactively unravel his part in it, effectively shitting in the mouths of his comrades and co-workers at the show who did nothing but treat him with respect and a sense of belonging for over ten fun and productive years providing him a healthy income (particularly as Hayes has been denied royalties for his famous 70’s hits going on 30 years now). Seems like we have a Judas on our hands. To quote Hamlet: Seems? I know not “seems.” Let’s push this choreographed dance of the faux-persecuted to the side for a moment, and look at the next part of this bewildering issue:
Part 2: From a March 17 item in the New York Post’s page six (a dubious source at best):
March 17, 2006- “Hollywood bully Tom Cruise got Comedy Central to cancel Wednesday night's cablecast of a controversial "South Park" episode about Scientology by warning that he'd refuse to promote "Mission Impossible 3," insiders say.
Since Paramount is banking on "MI3" to rake in blockbuster profits this summer, and Paramount is owned by Viacom, which also owns Comedy Central, the tactic worked… “
“…Now, hollywoodinterrupted.com reports Cruise went straight to the top - to execs at Viacom - and warned he'd boycott the promotion for "MI3" unless the "South Park" episode was pulled.
Series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have been told not to discuss the matter - to avoid embarrassing Cruise as they did Isaac Hayes last week when Hayes, also a Scientologist, quit his role as the voice of the Chef character.”
Personally, I can ignore the man’s rampant dribblings on subjects where the facts are dismissed in lieu of the teachings of his nible (that’s my combination of novel and bible for the uninformed). I can look elsewhere, ignoring his flailings and shrieks as he embarrasses himself on national television with whatever mental imbalance turns him from a reasonably charming human being into a gibbering mental defective.
I could care less about his plastic seductions of mediocre actresses, convenient on camera romantic gestures and near Michael Jackson-like asexual impregnations. Really, I can. Who cares? The guy does what he does, and frankly I can overlook that when I go to see a film he’s in. Because yes Virginia, Tom Cruise is a capable talent and I have enjoyed his performances more often than not. When you step over that line and use your celeb-power to actively repress someone else’s thoughts, contributions and earning ability, well, now y’ done gone and pinned the tail on the party hog. Cocksucker. Gay, not gay, frankly I don’t give a shit. Bend over and bite pillow for your keepers pushing their agenda, well, you’re a c.o.c.k.s.u.c.k.e.r. plain and simple.
And let’s not forget the lads over at Paramount and their overlords at Viacom, knuckling down to extortion and supposedly pulling the episode for fear of Cruise not doing meet and greets and shitty interviews on Jay Leno most people are nodding off to anyway. That’s a real shame, because we all know Mission Impossible 3 is just not going to get the press it deserves. I mean, who on earth has heard of this film? Phillip Seymour Who? What’s that guy done lately? Those previews running on tv and in the theaters ad nauseum just not doing their job? Branding from the existence of the first two films not sticking?
Comedy Central’s rebuttal, again from the Post:
A rep for Comedy Central, asked if Cruise was responsible for the "Closet" episode being yanked, attributed it instead to Hayes' resignation, saying, "In light of the events of earlier this week, we wanted to give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for."
What a sizzling load of corporate backpedaling Horseshit.
The Post doesn’t care for it either:
But TV insiders weren't buying that explanation. Now the question is whether Comedy Central will ever again air "Trapped in the Closet" and whether it will be included on the DVD of the show's ninth season.
So here we have numerous quotes from show creators, one quote allegedly from Hayes himself, and a quote from Comedy Central all addressing this issue very specifically. So what the fuck is with this following info!?
From TVguide.com extrapolated from the original FoxNews.com item on 3/20/06:
… Isaac Hayes did not quit his gig voicing South Park's Chef over some Scientology flap.
…FoxNews.com deems it "ridiculous" that the singer, who has been recovering from a stroke suffered in mid-January, would all of a sudden turn against the show for poking fun at his religion. Those close to Hayes are said to be "mystified" by the statement released March 13 and attributed to him. As one friend tells FoxNews.com, "Isaac's been concentrating on his recuperation for the last two and a half, three months." In related news, the Scientology-skewering "Trapped in a Closet" episode, pulled last week amidst allegations that Tom Cruise had flexed some muscle, will air this Wednesday at 10 pm/ET.
Read the original Fox News item here- it’s worth a look:
Case… Dismissed? Um. Well then. Okay. Are you as thoroughly befuddled as I am? Feels like I’ve been smacked upside the head with a wet trout and then given an ether soaked rag to towel off with. Obviously something happened. There are enough quotes from corporate sources and South Park’s creators themselves directly dealing with the issue to let us know that something went down. Somebody went to the wall on this, somebody got shamed or did enough shaming to let this issue drop, and most importantly, somebody took on the guise of Isaac Hayes and let loose with those nasty little statements in the first place, prompting quotes from Trey and Matt. But I guess we’re never gonna know. Stupid space-time continuum rifts…
UPDATE- because your brain wasn’t throbbing nearly enough:
From TvGuide.com: South Park has whipped together an episode addressing the recent hoopla surrounding Isaac Hayes' exit from the series. "The Return of Chef!", which will now launch the series' 10th season on March 22, depicts the "triumphant homecoming" of Hayes' alter ego. "While Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman are thrilled to have their old friend back," the press release states, "they notice that something about Chef seems different." Per the New York Daily News, Comedy Central isn't saying whether Hayes' voice is used in the episode…
Obviously Trey and Matt don’t think the matter is over either. Or this has all been a very effective marketing ploy and practical joke. I guess the only thing we can do is see if the Scientology episode does indeed ever air again. Funny thing is, I saw it back when it was new. The Cruise joke is easy, slammed into the ground, punching right through the dead horse on its way to the Earth’s core. The funniest part is the animated history of Scientology- which should not be missed by anyone. But as far as South Park goes, this isn’t even close to their best offerings. I tellya, what gets people riled up never ceases to amaze me.
Here is a central tenet of Scientology- don’t worry, I looked it up- I find it apropos to the situation, and rife with enough irony for inclusion here:
What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. No beliefs should be forced as "true" on anyone. Thus, the tenets of Scientology are expected to be tested and seen to either be true, or not, by Scientology practitioners.
See? Didn’t even have to pay $240 for it. Stay tuned to see if I get sued, and enjoy tonight’s new episode. Moving on…
CASE II: Kevin Martin needs to get shivved repeatedly in the crotch/face/chest/back areas by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask. And so do his wretched enablers.
DEFENDANTS: FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, the Parents Television Council, The American Family Association, and similar whacked out beings in places like Utah who want to bitch up my TV programming for lack of something better to do.
THE CRIME: FCC stepping up its “Decency War”, Fining the living shit out of the major networks not adhering to the broad, inconstant, fluid definitions set out by the FCC on what is “decent” and what is “indecent”, helped along by organizations run by pious yet ineffectual mothers who don’t have the sense God gave a goat to just smack their children when they do something wrong. Hard. In lieu of discipline, they would rather give power to the government, which of course will abuse it- they can’t help themselves, it’s like a drug that way.
Let me introduce you to the current chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, heir apparent to Michael “Neo-Nepotist” Powell:
Can you believe this little fratboy douchebag represents such a potent threat to our right to quality television?
THE EVIDENCE:Here are some recent outrages. See if you can discern the pattern to the madness:
- A proposed 3.6 million dollar fine against CBS’ Without a Trace for a scene sporting a teen orgy sans nudity nor language, yet termed a sexual situation. Curiously, Without a Trace is aired after 10pm, well within the boundaries of the so-called “Safe Harbor” hours between 10pm to 6am. Just so you know, this was actually a re-airing of a year-old broadcast from 2003. Where was the outcry then? And whose fucking kids were up watching at that hour?
This of course, comes in tandem with the 55,000 in fines CBS already must answer for due to Janet Jackson’s Angus cow tit plopping out back in ‘04. I missed this earth shattering event as I was in the kitchen getting another rib, and barely invested in a game that didn’t have the Eagles playing. Who actually watches halftime? The recent action was evidently enough for CBS, which has vowed to vigorously fight these unfair judgments and egregious fines by taking the FCC to court- good for them.
- A proposed $32,500 fine on Los Angeles Network KWHY for depicting a graphic rape scene yet had no nudity. The FCC’s beef is the airing on a Saturday at 8:15 p.m., before the safe harbor time slot.
- A proposed $15,000 fine against KCSM TV station in San Mateo, CA for airing the Martin Scorcese/Marc Levin documentary The Blues: Godfathers and Sons. The documentary was aired before 10 pm and featured numerous usage of the word “Fuck” among other vulgarities.
This last example might seem to have some effective reasoning behind the fines, but looking back into the history of the FCC, we see that is not the case. From MediaWeek, March 20: Station general manager Marilyn Lawrence told Mediaweek she could not tell why The Blues did not receive consideration like Saving Private Ryan, which the FCC decided had sufficient artistic merit to offset its use of the F-word. “Where is the line?” asked Lawrence. “I don’t know any more.”
Great observation Ms. Lawrence, unfortunately the FCC doesn’t feel like its answerable to you. The only people it seems to respond to are conservative coalitions calling for blanket censorship- should anyone else object, there seems to be a pattern of simply tying them up in expensive red tape and threats from advertisers who can’t afford not to bend over for this agency which can make life very hard for companies struggling in this cutthroat market.
By the way, the answer to the question of pattern is that there isn’t one. The time issue doesn’t apply for the “Without a Trace” fine, so we are left with the question of violence in a procedural show, and a record of roughly 111 alleged complaints to CBS affiliates in the form of around 300,000 alleged online letters from specific parent groups (there’s that ctrl v/send talent at work). The Dallas Morning News makes some truly great points about this particular show and the wrath it has incurred, in a March 21 column:
…Is indecency that clear-cut? Does it matter that the sex parties led to dire consequences?
How does the FCC know what passes for community standards these days when it didn't ask anybody before ruling?
Should relevance be considered? (The episode brings to mind a situation in Georgia in the late 1990s. After dozens of kids in a suburban town suddenly turned up with syphilis, it came out that they had been organizing after-school orgies.)
I particularly like this question- because now we have the educational “ripped from the headlines” aspect of the show come into play, easily qualifying it for “Saving Private Ryan” or “Schindler’s List” status.
Printed material - protected by the First Amendment to a greater degree than broadcast-television programs because the airwaves are a limited public-owned resource - has to lack socially redeeming value to be considered indecent under pornography law…
You can’t get more redeeming than the FBI investigating events that led up to a disappearance and an effort to locate and save the victim in question, to say nothing of portraying the potentially devastating outcome of such behavior as a teenage sex orgy. I’m smelling bullshit again. Hell, I’m smelling it all the time- it's the occasional whiff of fresh air I find worth noting these days.
KWHY’s rape scene has been fined primarily for its time of broadcast, as has the KCSM TV aired documentary, despite the fact that two offerings from Steven Speilberg, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, were both shown in primetime and featured enough graphic violence and nudity to make up for over 60 years of wholesome entertainment. One was fiction, one was a fictional telling of true events. One dealt with American History, one did not. But why not the same courtesy for the films or programs of others? Why were they exempt from the Safe Harbor hours? Are other stories not as important? Not as educational or relevant to society? Who gets to pick the Picassos from the Hustler cartoons here?
Obviously the FCC wouldn't care to answer. I don't blame them, there really is no answer that could possibly hold any logic or cause for these decisions. And if held up to logic, it all falls apart for these assholes and they have to live with the Constitution, unpalatable though it may be.
The sad part is, that Martin actually started off at the job reasonably well- he wasn’t making any big moves inflaming actual responsible, thinking individuals and he was even going after Cable for not offering dolts with young dolts a more “family friendly” package- not a la carte, which is not altogether cost feasible, but bundled channels, which would offer blocks of channels deemed family friendly at a discount price, that do not give offense. It was nice to see the man trying to lessen cable bills, and giving whiners an option that didn’t involve hacking off perverts like me and hundreds of thousands of other viewers who like their CSI, their Family Guy and their Desperate Housewives, who somehow manage to forgive the violence and sex just long enough to put them at the top of the ratings game time and time and time again.
But I guess this legion of viewers doesn’t count- only the bible beating crackpots who have managed to master CTRL C, CTRL V, and the resend option for their online complaints. I speak of course, of folks like the Parents Television Council, who not only want bundled cable offerings, but want to fuck things up for the rest of us because they couldn’t be bothered to beat the shit out of their rotten kids when the little bastards find Daddy’s Playboy channel. Fuck your kids. Be a parent and set some fucking boundaries.
I have to laugh at all the myriad letters I perused over at the Parents Television Council forum. Everything from regular stations, to BET (labeled racist more than once), MTV, and shock of shocks, Lifetime, was brought up by individuals, all touted as having offensive content. Having glanced at Lifetime whilst my wife, a hopeless LT zombie, drools at the screen, I must say that you won’t find another station so fervently dedicated to scenes of rape, adultery, abuse, teens getting knocked up, laid low by STD’s or simply porking for fun- its truly a magnificent theatre of pain- 98% based on true stories and touted as “women’s issues”. So maybe they’ve got a point there. Ok, you have my green light to remove Lifetime. Heh. Fools. Playing right into my agenda, a Lifetime free world. At least the Oh station shows “Marnie.”
I’d like nothing better than to banish MTV from my screen forever more- not because I’m particularly offended by the content, but because I hate it when my TV is populated by drunk assholes with no musical taste, sense, or any discernible charm or intellect, coupled with the fact that it’s a station built on music that has no music content whatsoever. But its part of the package, I understand that. And I can change the channel. Or turn it off. Or mute it. Or watch DVD’s. The possibilities, while not endless, are considerable, and so much better than someone doing it for you, or for everyone else you selfish pricks.
The majority of the PTC members are those who want to fool themselves that they are exercising power through the FCC rather than giving them the ammunition they need to set up their junta in the backwater country of television content. But I give them credit, they do know how to send an internet form letter multiple times.
Give these folks enough time and all we’ll have left to watch is the crackling fireplace channel and Daily Mass. I have a real fireplace and I’m a wicked Jew consigned to the fiery pit, so this just doesn’t work for me. An a la carte station ordering system might sound like a nice idea, but I don’t believe there’s adequate money in this scenario, because advertisers won’t pay for audiences that finely segmented - you’ll end up killing not only the programming you find so objectionable, but whatever pabulum keeps you so warm and toasty.
Now to be fair, I must mention again that the PTC has lobbied for family friendly bundled programming options (though I do wonder where BET would fall according to their crude definitions), but this still doesn’t stop the crusade to neuter perfectly decent shows on the major networks, nor has it deterred Martin from imposing his intangible, selective moral imperative. It’s not a matter of compromise; it’s pissing in the community soup and ruining it for everyone.
Just to give you an idea of the hellish universe some would have us inhabit, here’s the PTC’s list of best and worst shows being offered to their particular and curious tastes this year, reprinted from their website http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/publications/bw/welcome.asp:
Deal or No Deal
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Get this Party Started
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Dancing with the Stars
Kennedy Center Honors
The War at Home
Will & Grace
Most Outrageous TV Moments
The "Best" column is television programming of a world I do not want to be a part of- in fact, that’s probably a world where I would buy up lots of desert property in Nevada, and then set off a nuclear device in the San Andreas Fault, and rename the resulting New West Coast Kandeland. Or Costa del Kand El. Otisburg? OTISBURG?! I kid of course. I’ve wanted to pull off that one for years, no matter what’s on tv. Lex Luthor rules.
And with the inclusion of American Idol at the very top of the list, I laugh at these cretins as they’ve so conveniently shot themselves in the foot. As their number one pick, they have American Idol, a thinly veiled gladiatorial scenario where low people ill-equipped for the task at hand eagerly throw themselves into the arena with the lions with obvious conclusions, to the vicious delight of the average American viewer- a delightful walk through the valley of Schadenfreude where one can witness crucifixion of the soul and the cheese-grating of the hopes and dream of others in a fashion that no scripted primetime plot out there could possibly match. Congratulations oh Wise Sages of the PTC: you have revealed yourselves beyond doubt to be torpid fucking hypocrites of the first water. Goddam your fucking souls, you ludicrous collaborators.
I’m sure what the list meant to reflect was that they love the latter half of the Idol series, where Americans can be introduced to the next inspirational studio-constructed paper doll squawking out dull, vapid FM filler that’s nice and safe for advertisers and gets the chi’rrun to buy the pretty clothes their Resusci-Annie/Andy ‘s sport for the cameras. Right folks? Cuz me, I wouldn’t expose a kid to 90% of the carny attractions waiting in line to lick America’s ass by becoming High Court Jester for one and a half minutes. It’s not a “Sesame Street” styled lesson in etiquette now is it?
I also question Ghost Whisperer, as many of these twits object to what they term “pornographic violence”, yet tout a show where a recent episode had the evil spirit of a youth tormenting an infant with the intention of killing it. But you folks continue to live with that fantasy that you are above the rest of us plebeians if it helps you get through another day of your relentlessly unhappy lives. I’ll leave the unspoken Jennifer Love Hewitt jokes to the forum chatter.
VERDICT: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Sentence: Kevin Martin, you have betrayed the principles of your country at the behest of an unbalanced minority who cannot even be bothered to come up with solid definitions or plans to encourage decency practices any more than you can, backed by a Supreme Court you should be challenging, not bowing to you spineless worm. You flaunt the law and the Constitution rather than working with it and have strayed from the decent work the FCC should be doing in settling logistical business works and functions rather than guessing at ephemeral concepts of right and wrong and crushing those that do not agree. You are a traitor. A fucking traitor. The sentence is Death. Your bullet riddled corpse will be split up into various pieces, staked at the various Ivy league universities you attended as a warning to the elitist pricks Harvard, Duke and other effete establishments shit out on the world believing privilege equals some sort of superior moral compass. Wrong. Fuck with America at your peril you reptiles- find out how much the common man truly despises your smug sense of superiority.
To the various Christian and Conservative Leagues attempting to speak for millions of people who have no problems whatsoever with any of this content, and certainly wouldn’t blame an entire station of myriad programming for the gaffes of an individual performer, I sentence you to further impotence as your values and lessons go unheeded by your children, who will certainly grow up to be the lowest scum of the earth since you would rather abdicate your responsibilities as parents and let a box in your den raise your children for you. Fuck you very much for trying, but we’ll pass, and we’ll continue to fight you every step of the way. You fail.
WRAPPING IT UP: A bloody bloody loooong day of justice indeed, with more than a little confusion- and unfortunately even less actual justice. I leave this Kourt with a final word from Jerome Chef McElroy, sharing a certain truth we would all be well advised to heed:
Chef : "Stan, sometimes God takes those closest to us, because it makes him feel better about himself. He is a very vengeful God, Stan. He's all pissed off about something we did thousands of years ago. He just can't get over it, so he doesn't care who he takes. Children, puppies, it don't matter to him, so long as it makes us sad. Do you understand?"
Stan : "But then, why does God give us anything to start with?"
Chef : "Well, look at it this way: if you want to make a baby cry, first you give it a lollipop. Then you take it away. If you never give it a lollipop to begin with, then you would have nothin' to cry about. That's like God, who gives us life and love and help just so that he can tear it all away and make us cry, so he can drink the sweet milk of our tears. You see, it's our tears, Stan, that gives God his great power."
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1779
originally posted: 03/23/06 13:11:09
last updated: 04/07/06 18:20:37