March 13, 2006

Chef Leaves South Park, Cites Intolerance And Bigotry

Isaac Hayes, voice of the love guru and dispenser of wisdom named Chef has decided to cut ties with the popular satirical series South Park, citing "intolerance and bigotry" of the show's attitude toward religion:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Soul music veteran Isaac Hayes, the voice of the libidinous character Chef on the satiric cable TV cartoon "South Park," said on Monday he was leaving the show, citing its "inappropriate ridicule" of religion.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs and others begins," Hayes said in a statement issued through his spokesman in New York.

Hayes, 63, a follower of the Church of Scientology, did not mention a "South Park" episode that aired last fall poking fun at Scientology and some of its celebrity adherents, including actor Tom Cruise.

Rather, the statement said the show's parody of religion is part of what Hayes sees as a "growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs" in the media generally, including the recent controversy over a Danish cartoon depiction of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad.
Subjecting religion, or ideology for that matter, to satire and ridicule are nothing new, and indeed, should be encouraged in the sense that free speech be allowed to be practiced. Should someone print transgressive and outrageous cartoons (not satire but rather hateful propaganda), those responsible can and should be criticized (exercising more free speech). As in the case of the Mohammed cartoons, peaceful demonstrations, public criticism, and a boycott of the newspaper (not the country) are not misplaced. Violence, murder, and general mayhem stirred by adding false cartoons are not appropriate responses to a controversial work.

The creators of South Park delight in deconstructing leftist mantras, lampooning religions, and tormenting conservatives of all stripes. Their general libertarian outlook allows them to tackle everything from political correctness to bigotry. Satire usually entails generalizations and skewering of stereotypes, and could arguably get out of hand. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have consistently produced crude yet often insightful criticisms of the subjects they deal with (especially in episodes like "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes", where the reason for Walmart's success is us and our consumer's desire, not some dastardly secret plot to take over the world). Social conservatives and lefties with pet causes (global warming, social engineering) might be offended by their work. There is, however, no right to not be offended. In fact, a little criticism might force those so doggedly committed to their cause or their religion to reflect on just what they believe. Or not. They may simply choose not to watch this show. But everyone must be subject to such satire, or the show does not fulfill its satirical purpose, and becomes nothing more than propaganda:
However, he said Stone and Parker "feel that it's a bit disingenuous (for Hayes) to cite religious intolerance as a reason for him pulling out of the show" because the series has lampooned religion since the start, dating back to the short film, "The Spirit of Christmas," on which the series is based.

"Their premise is as long as you can make fun of everybody, then everybody is a potential target," Fox said. "The minute you start pulling punches, than the show's reason for being sort of gets compromised."
The same would be said for cartoonists depicting Mohammed. For a true satirist, nothing is sacred. Misuse of satire (propaganda) can be countered with more free speech. But once people and ideas become off-limits, censorship reigns. Everyone begins to tell everyone else what to think or how to act. Not only would South Park become an inferior product, relegated to crude potty humor until even that was prohibited, but also a harbinger of a society that values comfort over freedom, and state or religion endorsed information over the free exchange of ideas. Don't like it? Change the channel. . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am assuming that Mr. Hayes was paid well for his services while on the cast/crew of "South Park". It seems a little odd that he waited until his pockets were fully lined before seeing the light and leaving the show.

Tue Mar 14, 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger boyo said...

On the topic of Religious Intolerance and comedy, please note The Papal Chase, a hilarious gritty guerrilla documentary about one-man's obsession to meet the Pope (during World Youth Day in Toronto 2002), will be making it's theatrical debut at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto on March 23rd-24th, 2006. Come see the film that people are saying puts the "fun" back into Fundamentalist Religion, and stay for a post show symposium on Religious Tolerance in New Media and Culture.

Tue Mar 14, 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I thought he was so much cooler than this....


Tue Mar 14, 07:13:00 PM  

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