South Park and censorship
I don’t have a lot to say about Comedy Central’s decision to apparently censor the 201st episode of South Park in its entirety. It is a cowardly, stupid and unnecessary move – one of the worst responses to intimidation I’ve seen from a major media outlet in recent years. There was very little intimidation to speak of, in fact, which only goes to show how deeply ingrained the fear really is among members of the media, or at least among the frightened children who run Viacom, Comedy Central’s parent company. Sure, it’s just a show, and it’s not as though the government censored it, but the decision is still disturbing.
I imagine the show will be available now only on the bit-torrent black market. I missed it personally as I don’t have a television, and watch all my shows a day (or five) after they air. Since this was part two of a series, this only makes the whole situation more frustrating. I have to avoid spoilers while making heads or tails of the whole thing, and that’s not such an easy thing.
Really what this bit of fear-inspired censorship does is put a lie to every other piece of mockery which Matt Stone and Trey Parker ever dished out. They never flinched from sticking it to members of just about every other religion. Catholics, Buddhists, Mormons, celebrities, Scientologists, whites, blacks, Mexicans, gays, politicians, celebrities, conservatives, liberals, Tom Cruise, and on down the list – South Park has crossed as many lines as it could, as if to say that so long as every line is crossed and nothing is sacred no harm is done except to our vanity. (And there have been times I’ve been offended, or just grossed out, by South Park. Even aside from whether or not I’m offended, I find the show a little spotty, a little hit and miss at times, oscillating between brilliant episodes like Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow and really, really dumb episodes whose titles escape me.)
In any case, the first time they tried to show the Prophet Mohammad, I thought it was a fairly brilliant and poignant piece on censorship. This time around, I am just discouraged. Kudos to the show’s creators for not backing down. Now, I just need to find some place to download the damn episode so that I can see what all this fuss is about.