Both Scientology and South Park have seen their share of controversy. But, recently, they went head to head against each other. As the voice of Chef, Isaac Hayes has been with South Park almost 10 years. But he suddenly quit in March, 2006, stating that South Park displayed “intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others.” This was no doubt brought about by November 2005’s episode called “Trapped in the Closet,” in which Scientologists Tom Cruise and John Travolta were portrayed as gay and character Stan claimed to be the reincarnation of founder L. Ron Hubbard.
“Trapped in the Closet” was set to repeat on March 15, 2006, but was suddenly pulled from the schedule. Rumor is this happened because Tom Cruise threatened to not promote his new film, Mission: Impossible III. If you do not see the connection here, do not worry, there is a very important one. Viacom owns both Comedy Central, where South Park is aired and Paramount Pictures, the production company of M:I 3. Everyone is denying it, but there certainly seems to be an undeniable connection between M:I 3, Tom Cruise (perhaps Scientology’s number one celebrity spokesperson), Paramount, Viacom, Comedy Central and South Park.
What I find amusing is that after 9 years, Isaac Hayes would suddenly find South Park offensive. I do not even watch the show and I could have told you creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone find nothing sacred, especially religion. Who couldn’t find humor in a religion created by a science fiction writer who was quoted in the May 1980 issue of Reader’s Digest, as saying “If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” Their response was totally in character. They said they were servants of Xenu (the galactic ruler who brought people to Earth 75 million years ago) and the “million-year war for Earth” had just begun. In the final episode starring Chef, he was portrayed as a brainwashed child molester who is killed then resurrected as Darth Vader.
South Park wins in the end, although in my mind, it does not take much effort to make fun of Scientology. I think Isaac’s quitting only gave Parker and Stone an open license to make fun of Scientology and get recognition (and laughs) for it.