October 11 2008

Paramount Is Angry With South Park, Sky Still Blue

It would seem Paramount is none too happy with the fall premiere of South Park that aired earlier this week.

-looks outside- Yep, the sky is blue.

Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily is saying that executives at Paramount or more than just a bit displeased about the content of the episode entitled “The China Probrem”.  It wasn’t the “A” story that had to deal with Cartman trying to stave off an impending Chinese invasion of the USA, but the “B” story that dealt with the other boys trying to cope with imagery of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg raping Indiana Jones.

Yeah… you read that right.

The kids saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull over the summer, and having been dealing with the guilt of having watched their favorite adventurer getting “raped”, and not doing anything about it.  Of course the rape was metaphorical for the disaster the script was, but at three separate points in the episode, we were shown Lucas and Spielberg actually raping Indiana in scenes that were homages to rape scenes from A Clockwork Orange, The Accused and Deliverance, as well as sending up all the scenes in rape movies where people will finally agree to helping the victims.  At the very end of the episode we were also treated to Spielberg and Lucas raping a Stormtrooper from Star Wars… it was a very uplifting episode.

There are others who are saying the rape metaphor shouldn’t have been used at all.  While I certainly do not find the traditional definition of rape amusing at all, how many times have people and writers said, “They raped my childhood…”, “They raped that character…”, “The government is raping us…” etc?  The word has taken on so many meanings in our lexicon, but did anyone stop to think that was what the show was trying to portray?  I heard many people say Indiana got raped by the fourth movie, so the show just took it literally, and people get worked up over it.  You have to selective sensitivity.

According to Ms. Finke, Paramount execs are not happy with parent company Viacom as they also own Comedy Central, and allowed this episode to go forward.  I would image a lot of their anger is because the DVD for the movie is coming out on October 14th, so having the movie picked on so publicly this close to release probably doesn’t thrill them.  Also according to Ms. Finke, Paramount is planning to keep quiet on the subject in public venues as they want the issue to go away, but since when have bloggers allowed an issue to die?

This isn’t the first time Paramount has been angry at Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the series.  Back in 2006 they were also displeased with them over the Tom Cruise/Scientology episode, “Trapped In A Closet”, as Cruise was one of their biggest box office draws at the time.  At that time they did complain, and the episode was pulled from the usual rotation after only one repeat airing.  I think it is rather obvious that the suits at Paramount need to get a much thicker skin about things.

South Park works because all subjects are equal fodder for them, and it is just about guaranteed that there will eventually be an episode that offends you/insults something you believe in. If the show was to consider Paramount properties off limits, how would that be fair? It wouldn’t.

It concerns me that comedy writing seems to be taking so many hits from various sides as of late. Earlier this week we had the Saturday Night Live video pulled from the web over two jokes at the expense of a couple involved in the sub-prime loan disaster.  Now we have South Park under fire again for making fun of another company in the Viacom family.  Are we suddenly seeing the rise again of the political correctness boom from the 1980’s and comedy writers are going to have what they can write about being dictated to them by committee and lawyers?

Comedy, and all of its derivatives such as satire, should enjoy the utmost freedom under the 1st amendment, but yet it seems there are many out there who feel it should have more and more restraints put on it.  Is it outright censorship?  No, but suggesting things shouldn’t be written about sure is a close second.

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