"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."The response from Matt Stone:
"This is 100 percent 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."...Well, Stone got the better of that exchange! Who has a better ear for hypocrisy than Stone?
Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "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."
Link via Memeorandum, so let's see who else is talking about the Hayes-Stone face-off. (Invocation of John Travolta unintended!)
Captain Ed: "It seems that Chef can't take what he dishes out."
Patterico: "Look to see Chef die a particularly bloody, horrible, and painful death."
Does Chef have to go? I don't think he's been an important character in recent years, but since Stone and Parker have been blithely doing so many voices, why not do his too? In fact, why weren't they doing that voice themselves all along? Here's Stone's answer, from a transcript of "Fresh Air" (date: 10/24/04, no link available):
[A]ctually with Chef--Trey and I were doing all the voices, and we actually--me or Trey wanted to do that voice. We were going to be like, 'Hey, what's going on, children?' and just kind of do that voice ourselves. And we were going to pitch it down, so it was really, really low, like an older black man's voice, how they can just be really, really low. And we wanted to do it ourselves. At the time Comedy Central was like, 'You can't do that.' And it's kind of true in a lot of Disney cartoons and a lot of other cartoons, they won't let their gender--Their gender?--race specific with the voiceover; they won't allow a white person to do a black person's voiceover. They probably don't care the other way. But at the time they were like, 'You know, you need to have a black person do this.' And we were like, `Well, you know, we have this character who sings all these soul songs.' I was like, 'Why don't we get ...(unintelligible)?'Think "Comedy Central" would let them do the voice now? Think Stone and Parker will have some more fun with Scientology over this? I hope so!
So we had a really short list. It was--Isaac Hayes was our first choice. Then I think we had Lou Rawls on there. And what's the other guy? Barry White. And so we sent out tapes to them to them. I don't think we ever heard from Lou Rawls. Barry White respectfully declined because he's a very Christian man, and he thought it didn't reach his standards. We sent out 'The Spirit of Christmas.' And Isaac Hayes called back and said, 'Sure, I'll do it.'
So Trey and I flew to New York to record Isaac Hayes. We were so freaked out. You know, we'd never even worked with anybody except for our own friends in Colorado, and here we are doing Isaac Hayes. So then Isaac Hayes--he shows up, and he has no idea what he's going to do. So now we're sitting in the studio. He goes, 'All right, what's going on?' And his agent had basically just said, 'Yeah, you know, he's into it. He wants to do it.' But Isaac really was, like, just going to a gig to do a voiceover. And so we had to sit there and explain to him, 'Well, you're this big, fat black guy that lives in this little town in Colorado. You're the only black person there, and you sing soul songs.' And he was, like, 'OK. That sounds good.' So we were, like, 'All right.'
By the way, the episode that mocked Scientology was "Trapped in the Closet," and it was quite brilliant and hilarious. The press paid most of its attention to the material about Tom Cruise being "in the closet" (which he was, literally). I wrote at the time:
[CNN has a] segment on the new episode of "South Park" that mocked Scientology and Tom Cruise. CNN jumbles a lot of things together and titles the segment "Did 'South Park' go too far in mocking Tom Cruise?" Why not ask whether "South Park" went to far in mocking Scientology? That was what most of the episode was about.Thank God somebody's willing to mock religion!
Not shown in the CNN clip is the show's hilarious animated depiction of the deep secrets of Scientology. Instead, CNN reruns rumors about Cruise's sexual orientation, replete with the usual clip of him jumping on Oprah's couch. It's true the "South Park" episode repeatedly used the phrase "Tom Cruise come out of the closet." (Cruise literally hides in a closet for a reason that has nothing to do with his sexual orientation.) CNN shows many of those repetitions and informs us that they counted 39 of them. It's very funny.
But religion is the real target of "South Park's" mockery, and CNN opted for the easy approach of tweaking Cruise one more time about the rumors. In a lame attempt to appear journalistic, CNN presented the rumors as a report on how other people are spreading rumors. (Isn't that usually how one spreads rumors?) Can you picture CNN actually going after Scientology the way "South Park" did?