South Park Controversies - Censorship of The Depiction of Muhammad

Censorship of The Depiction of Muhammad

We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.

“ ” Zachary Adam Chesser Main articles: Super Best Friends, Cartoon Wars Part I, Cartoon Wars Part II, 200 (South Park), and 201 (South Park) See also: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

The season 10 episodes "Cartoon Wars Part I" and "Cartoon Wars Part II" feature a plot in which the Fox network plans to air an episode of the animated show Family Guy that contains an uncensored cartoon depiction of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Residents of South Park panic, fearing a terrorist response and a repeat of the real-life violent protests and riots that occurred worldwide after some Muslims regarded the prophet's cartoon depiction in a Danish newspaper as insulting and blasphemous. The first episode had a cliffhanger ending instructing viewers to watch part two to find out whether the image of Muhammad would be shown uncensored. In the second episode, Kyle persuades a Fox executive to air the Family Guy with the image uncensored, while echoing Parker and Stone's sentiments regarding what should or should not be censored of " it's got to all be OK or none of it is". Within the universe of the episode, the Family Guy episode is aired uncensored, despite a retaliation threat from Al-Qaeda. However, the actual South Park broadcast itself ran a black screen that read "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network" instead of the scene containing Muhammad's depiction, which Parker and Stone say was neutral and not intended to insult Muslims.

Parker and Stone note the contradiction in being allowed to feature a profane depiction of Jesus, while being forbidden to feature a purely benign depiction of Muhammad, but claim they harbor no hard feelings toward Comedy Central for censoring the scene, since the network confessed to being "afraid of getting blown up" rather than claim they refrained from airing the scene uncensored out of religious tolerance. Parker and Stone claim the only regrets they have over the incident was that their mocking of the show Family Guy in the episode generated more attention than its commentary on the ethics of censorship. Previously, Muhammad was depicted uncensored and portrayed in a heroic light in the season five (2001) episode "Super Best Friends", which resulted in virtually no controversy. Muhammad also appears among the large crowd of characters gathered behind the main characters and "South Park" sign in some of the show's previous opening sequences.

Parker and Stone repeated this plot for the 200th episode "200". Again, the depiction was censored throughout the episode. After the episode aired, a leader of Revolution Muslim, an obscure New York-based radical Muslim organization, targeted South Park’s creators for satirizing issues surrounding the depiction of Muhammad. The author of the post, who goes by the username Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, wrote on Twitter that he prayed for Allah to kill the show’s creators and “burn them in Hell for all eternity.” He also posted a similar entry on his blog and on the Revolution Muslim website. The post included a picture of the assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist in 2004 with the caption: "Theo Van Gogh – Have Matt Stone And Trey Parker Forgotten This?" He also noted: "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh if they do air this show."

Following the airing of this episode, Malaysia's conservative Islamic PAS party demanded that the makers of the satirical cartoon sitcom South Park apologize to Muslims around the world for its portrayal of the prophet Muhammad dressed as a bear, though it was later shown that it was actually Santa inside the suit. "Even though they have added the audio bleeps, South Park's producer and broadcaster should apologize to the Muslims, as this is a sensitive issue," said PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar. "The show itself spells of bad intention, and the depiction of the Prophet is provocative. It creates religious tension."

The following episode "201" censored the word "Muhammad" throughout the episode, as well as several lines from the "Super Best Friends" during the final act. According to the South Park Studios webpage, episode "201" was censored by Comedy Central after the studio delivered the episode, but before it was aired. The studio advises that the episode is not available online because they do not have network clearance to air the uncensored episode.

Due to the controversies, the episode "201" was removed from the British Comedy Central TV schedule, and replaced with a repeat of "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs," and the repeat of "200" was replaced with a repeat of "Sexual Healing". The episode "Super Best Friends", previously available via the South Park Studios website has been made unavailable. Additionally, the Netflix streaming version of the episode, also previously available, has been changed to "Disc Only". "Super Best Friends" was also removed from the iTunes Store as well as the Xbox Live Video Marketplace.

Despite the controversies, "200" and "201" are available on the Region 1 release of "South Park - The Complete Fourteenth Season" disc. The episodes were censored and so were the commentaries regarding the episodes. The Region 2 and 4 releases of "South Park - The Complete Fourteenth Season" had both "200" and "201" removed for undisclosed reasons, despite the packaging claiming that all fourteen episodes are included in the set.

Read more about this topic:  South Park Controversies

Famous quotes containing the words censorship of and/or censorship:

    ... censorship often boils down to some male judges getting to read a lot of dirty books—with one hand.
    Robin Morgan (b. 1941)

    Right now I think censorship is necessary; the things they’re doing and saying in films right now just shouldn’t be allowed. There’s no dignity anymore and I think that’s very important.
    Mae West (1892–1980)