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Posted by on Apr 4, 2009 in Arts & Entertainment | 3 comments

South Park’s Creators Now & Forever Free


There’s no risk of anyone forgetting South Park’s place in television and pop culture now. The award-winning show’s success has given Parker and Stone the freedom to embrace their chaotic creativity and write about whatever they choose, no matter how sensitive the subject. Basing their wildly popular show around crudely animated characters gives them extra wiggle room to tackle taboo topics.

“We have very few problems with Comedy Central,” Stone said. “They love us because we’re making them a lot of money. And we’re rich enough now that we have no one to be afraid of out there.”

Three year’s ago Tom Cruise reportedly got Viacom to force Comedy Central to cancel a rebroacast of a controversial episode about Scientology by threatening that he’d refuse to promote “Mission Impossible 3″ on any of the company’s properties. I argued then that the South Park guys should kiss-off Viacom. Instead in their very next episode, The Return of Chef, Parker and Stone never used the word Scientology as they poked some obvious fun at it.

Changes in the media landscape since that not-so-faraway time have amply demonstrated the duo could leave Viacom and distribute the show (or an obvious variation — like North Garden) on their own. Just last month they cut a cash deal with the Netflix Watch Instantly service to stream the first nine seasons of South Park. They had already been streaming the 181 episodes on their Web site, serving over 300 million views since going live a year ago.

Significantly, Parker and Stone retained non-television rights to the show as part of their original deal with Comedy Central and they split non-TV revenue 50-50 with the network — a deal likened to the 1951 deal Desi Arnaz cut for “I Love Lucy.” (Apple, on the other hand, stupidly nixed a potentially offensive iPhone app.)

The bottom line? They’ve demonstrated again and again the truth of their money quote above!

MORE FROM FANS OF THIS SEASON’S EPISODES: Andrew Sullivan on last week’s Eat, Pray, Queef:

The laughter comes from real subversion, from not just crossing red lines but going so far past them you forget the red lines exist. It isn’t just puerile bravado either (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Parker and Stone actually take on powerful entities, people that can actually harm them and their careers. Who else has tackled Islamists, scientologists, and the Disney company? Who else is able to use the word “faggot” and have every gay man laugh along with them? Who skewers the Hollywood left more effectively?

Razib at Gene Expression on Margaritaville:

Excellent episode. Should it be titled “In praise of fiat currency?”

Jessica at Feministing on purity rings:

Outside of the mouse-on-teen violence, I really liked this clip – especially how it points out that by focusing on purity these companies/singers are actually focusing on sexuality, just in a “safe” way.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • RobertLindblad

    Here’s part of The June 1983 Penthouse Magazine interview with L.Ron Hubbard Jr.
    Hubbard: Scientology is a power-and-money-and-intelligence-gathering game. To use common, everyday English, Scientology says that you and I and everybody else willed ourselves into being hundreds of trillions of years ago -just by deciding to be. We willed ourselves into being ourselves. Through wild space games, interaction, fights, and wars in the grand science-fiction tradition, we created this universe -all the matter, energy, space, and time of this universe. And so through these trillions of years, we have become the effect of our own cause and we now find ourselves trapped in bodies. So the idea of Scientology “auditing” or “counseling” or “processing” is to free yourself from your body and to return you to the original godlike state or, in Scientology jargon, an operating Thetan -O.T. We are all fallen gods, according to Scientology, and the goal is to be returned to that state.
    Penthouse: And what is the Church of Scientology?
    Hubbard: It’s one of my father’s many organizations. It was formed in 1953, basically to avoid the harassment of my father by the medical profession and the IRS. The idea of Scientology didn’t really exist before that point as a religion, but my father hit upon turning it into a church after he started feeling pressured.
    Penthouse: Didn’t your father have any interest in helping people?
    Hubbard: No.
    Penthouse: Never?
    Hubbard: My father started out as a broke science-fiction writer. He was always broke in the late 1940s. He told me and a lot of other people that the way to make a million was to start a religion. Then he wrote the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health while he was in Bayhead, New Jersey. When we later visited Bayhead, in about 1953, we were walking around and reminiscing -he told me that he had written the book in one month.
    Penthouse: There was no church when he wrote the book?
    Hubbard: Oh, no, no. You see, his goal was basically to write the book, take the money and run. But in 1950, this was the first major book of do-it-yourself psychotherapy, and it became a runaway best-seller. He kept getting, literally, mail trucks full of mail. And so he and some other people, including J. W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction , started the Dianetics Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey. And the post office kept backing up and just dumping mail sacks into the building. The foundation had a staff that just ran through the envelopes and threw away anything that didn’t have any money in it.
    Penthouse: People sent money?
    Hubbard: Yeah, they wanted training and further Dianetic auditing, Dianetic processing. It was just an incredible avalanche.
    Penthouse: Did he write the book off the top of his head? Did he do any real research?
    Hubbard: No research at all. When he has answered that question over the years, his answer has changed according to which biography he was writing. Sometimes he used to write a new biography every week. He usually said that he had put thirty years of research into the book. But no, he did not. What he did, reaily, was take bits and pieces from other people and put them together in a blender and stir them all up -and out came Dianetics! All the examples in the book -some 200 “real-life experiences” -were just the result of his obsessions with abortions and unconscious states… In fact, the vast majority of those incidents were invented off the top of his head.

  • AustinRoth

    South Park and Family Guy are the two most subversive and funny TV shows in history. I don’t know how they get away with it all, but thank God they do!

  • I just saw the South Park episodes (again) “Chinpokomon” and I’m still laughing. The show never gets old despite repeated viewing.

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