SouthPark on Comedy Central is known for pushing the envelope. They were rebuffed in 2006 when they tried to feature Mohammed in part two of an episode called “Cartoon Wars.” This despite featuring Mohammed in a 2001 episode called “Super Best Friends.” From covering the Terri Schiavo battle in 2005; to featuring the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin in an episode late last year… with the stingray still attached, South Park takes no prisoners.
Last night, SouthPark took on Catholic League president Bill Donahue. In the episode, which was a take off on The Davinci Code, Stan and Kyle had to protect one of Christianity’s greatest secrets… but the Pope and Bill Donahue want to stop them. As is often the case with the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone took it to absurd levels, having the “secret” in question be that St. Peter was actually a rabbit (Peter Rabbit, get it?) and that Jesus wanted a rabbit to be pope, because men are too corrupt. Jesus, a recurring character on the show, returns to the Vatican, and explains the truth to the Pope and Donahue. Donahue then orders Jesus and the Pope imprisoned, and appoints himself Pope. However, in a dramatic conclusion, straight out of The Matrix, Jesus asks Kyle to kill him, and resurrects just in time… to kill Bill Donahue, and save the day.
The message was that a single man cannot claim to represent the beliefs of an entire religion, but all the bloodshed kind of overshadowed the meaning. At any rate, what did I find when I walked into the B&C office this morning? Why, a fax from the Catholic League, decrying the episode. In the name of fairness, I am printing Donahue’s response to the episode in full:
“ I have no idea why ‘South Park’ creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker caricature me as a heartless thug. In any event, I stand convicted and have no defense. Now I have to get back to business—I hear someone just took some liberties with the Easter Bunny!”
I think Bill was trying to be funny. What do you think?
By Alex Weprin