The episode was written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker.
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Like "", it alludes to several past storylines and controversies from previous South Park episodes, especially Comedy Central's refusal to show images of Muhammad on the network following controversies in and when cartoons depicting Muhammad ran in European newspapers, resulting in riots and threats. Prior to the broadcast of "", the radical Muslim organization Revolution Muslim posted a warning on their website that Parker and Stone risked being murdered for their depiction of Muhammad.
Comedy Central modified Parker and Stone's version of the episode, obscuring all images and bleeping all references to Muhammad—to the effect of disruptively obscuring the entire two-minute moral conclusion of the story. Nevertheless, both "" and "" were nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in The censorship drew strong criticism of Comedy Central. Critics said that the network's action would encourage further threats from radical groups. In most places the episode " Sexual Healing " was shown instead of episode In the United Kingdom, some parts were removed, and a short on-screen message appears, stating the outline of the removed parts and "MTV on Viva " or "Comedy Central" " According to Nielsen Media Research , the episode was seen by 3.
On January 31, , the original uncensored version was leaked when it was pulled from the South Park Studios servers and was posted online in its entirety without approval by Comedy Central. The episode opens with Cartman , as his hand-puppet persona Mitch Conner, narrating a flashback to Connor's medical discharge from his Vietnam War tour of duty in a parody of a scene from the film Apocalypse Now as the song " Time of the Season " by the Zombies plays in the background.
Back in the present, Mr. Garrison refuses to reveal the identity of Cartman's father, and instead sends Cartman to Dr. Mephisto's lab. The Gingers arrive and take Muhammad and Cartman captive. The Super Best Friends are called to South Park to help; after their powers fail to subdue Mecha-Streisand, they pacify her by having Krishna adopt the form of Neil Diamond and providing her the opportunity to perform a duet with him. The Gingers contact the celebrities and offer to share Muhammad in exchange for access to the celebrities' "goo transfer machine", which transfers Muhammad's power to remain free from ridicule to a target individual.
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Depicted as a melodramatic madman, Scott has decorated his lair to represent the Chili Con-Carnival in which Cartman gained his revenge on Scott by tricking him into eating his own parents. He reveals to Cartman that they shared the same father, former Denver Broncos player Jack Tenorman , meaning that by his act of revenge against Scott, Cartman had killed his own father and fed him to his half-brother.
The fight between the Super Best Friends, celebrities, and Gingers spills over into the Ginger lair, and Tenorman escapes in the confusion. Cruise questions why they are able to do this, which leads to a monologue from Kyle, Jesus Christ , and Santa Claus explaining that the goo does not exist, and that threatening people with violence is the only true answer.
In the censored version, this explanation is completely obscured by a continuous audio bleep. Mitch Conner reminds Cartman that he is "half-Bronco" as well and tells him that makes him "pretty cool" and departs. The boys find Cruise crying for a place in which he can live without fear of mockery. Stan, Kenny and Kyle promise to help Cruise get to such a place. The episode's closing shot is of Cruise's corpse lying on the Moon's surface alongside the corpse of the orca featured in " Free Willzyx ".
The episode continued multiple storylines from the previous episode " ", the th entry of the series. Parker and fellow co-creator Matt Stone decided to celebrate their th episode by revisiting several subplots that had been featured throughout the show's 14 seasons. Multiple celebrities have been lampooned throughout the series' history, inspiring Parker and Stone to have all the past celebrities join in a class action lawsuit against the town of South Park. Alphonse Mephisto and Kevin , characters that had not been featured on South Park for about 10 years.
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Slave and Pip Pirrup. Scott Tenorman, and the references to Cartman's murder of Scott's parents, were from the fifth season episode " Scott Tenorman Must Die ". At the end of "", the dead body of Tom Cruise lies alongside the corpse of a killer whale , a reference to the ninth season episode " Free Willzyx ", in which the South Park boys help an orca escape a marine amusement park and flee to the moon, believing it to be a paradise. One of the most prominent storylines from "", which continued into "", was the characters' efforts to bring Muhammad into public view.
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This is based on two past controversies in Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy , when European newspapers published cartoons of Muhammad, resulting in riots, global protests, and death threats toward the artists. As a result of those incidents, many publications and television studios have refused to broadcast images of Muhammad in any form, which was the inspiration behind Tom Cruise's efforts to harvest Muhammad's apparent immunity to satire and ridicule.
In the week between the broadcasts of "" and "", the website for the New York-based radical Muslim organization Revolution Muslim posted an entry that included a warning to creators Parker and Stone that they risked violent retribution for their depictions of Muhammad.
The entry stated that they "will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. The author of the post, Zachary Adam Chesser , said it was meant to serve as a warning to Parker and Stone, not a threat, and that providing the addresses was meant to give people the opportunity to protest. The entry included audio clips of a sermon by al-Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki calling for the assassination of anyone who has defamed Muhammad, saying, "Harming Allah and his messenger is a reason to encourage Muslims to kill whoever does that. Before "" aired, the New York City Police Department increased security at the Comedy Central headquarters in direct response to the threats.
Law enforcement officials said Revolution Muslim itself was "all talk" and had never engaged in any actual violence but they were concerned that the website post could inspire violence from others. During the original broadcast of "" on April 21, , all references to Muhammad's name were obscured by audio bleeps. Several other portions of dialogue were also censored, including almost the entirety of three consecutive monologues spoken by Kyle, Jesus and Santa Claus at the end regarding the moral of the episode.
Muhammad's name appeared in the previous episode, "", without any such censorship. Immediately after the episode "" aired, the series website South Park Studios posted a notice that said Comedy Central had inserted "numerous additional bleeps throughout the episode" after Parker and Stone submitted their final cut to the network. The network later confirmed they were responsible for the audio censorship.
On April 22, , South Park Studios released a brief statement: . In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind.
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We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We'll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we'll see what happens to it.
These episodes showed South Park's reaction to a controversy regarding censorship of Muhammad depictions on two fictional episodes of Family Guy. In the United States "" has never re-aired following its original debut as South Park would usually repeat during the week, and episodes from earlier in the season were shown instead. Although South Park Studios generally makes unexpurgated versions of their episodes immediately available to view, the notice indicated Parker and Stone did not have network approval to show their original version, and thus no version of "" could be seen on the website.
The Canadian Comedy Network aired "" on April 25, , though the episode was censored as the American broadcast was, breaking the network's multi-year practice of airing South Park completely uncensored. Comedy Central has decided not to air these two episodes of South Park.
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It is a decision we've made with great reluctance. Comedy Central believes strongly in creative freedom of expression; when unique and deeply insightful creative talents like those behind South Park are able to express themselves freely, we all benefit. However, the safety of our employees is our unquestioned number one priority, and therefore we have decided to take these precautionary measures.
During Mitch Conner's flashback of the Vietnam War at the beginning of the episode, " Time of the Season " by English rock group the Zombies plays in the background. In its original American broadcast on April 21, , "" was watched by 3. The A. Club writer Sean O'Neal said "" was an improvement over "", but nevertheless felt "" was "less a cohesive episode than a grab bag of balls-out crazy scenes and cameos only loyal fans would really appreciate.
Isler said the bleeps added by Comedy Central provided some unintentional laughs and underscored the episode's underlying theme opposing censorship. Margaret Wente , The Globe and Mail . According to a Zogby International survey conducted after "" aired, a majority of Americans opposed Comedy Central's censorship of the episode. No doubt, they'll try this stunt again. The consequence of this position is that the thugs win and people have more incentive to be thugs.
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There are lots of people out there who would very much like to get certain kind of material removed, whether religious or political. The more they see others winning, the more they will be likely to do the same. Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. Seventeen Pulitzer Prize -winning cartoonists protested the threats in a petition released April 27, The petition stated: . We, the undersigned, condemn the recent threats against the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, by the extremist organization, Muslim Revolution.
Freedom of expression is a universal right and we reject any group that seeks to silence people by violence or intimidation. In the United States we have a proud tradition of political satire and believe in the right to speak or draw freely without censorship. During the April 22 broadcast of Comedy Central's The Daily Show , host Jon Stewart responded to the censorship of "" with a ten-minute monologue about the death threats, expressing disgust toward Revolution Muslim, culminating with a song telling Revolution Muslim to "go fuck [themselves]".
Stewart criticized Comedy Central's decision to alter the episode, while simultaneously acknowledging they likely did so to protect their employees from "possible harmful repercussions". It's better. As a result of Revolution Muslim's statement, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris suggested that many people draw and publish pictures of Muhammad on May 20, , which she dubbed the "first annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day ".
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Norris herself went into hiding, shortly thereafter, on the advice of the FBI. You pick your battles. You have to judge how real the threat is against how funny the joke is. How much do I care about the joke? In a oral history of South Park in The Hollywood Reporter , Vernon Chatman , the voice of Towelie as well as a writer and producer on the show said that after Comedy Central censored the episode, series co-creator Trey Parker purchased a ticket to South Africa and showed it to the head of the network as a threat because Dave Chappelle had fled to Africa, though Parker never actually went.
The depiction of Buddha snorting cocaine in "" and "" prompted the government of Sri Lanka to ban the entire series outright. When playing the episode, prior to the theme playing, a text card appears saying: "The following episode appears as it originally aired on April 21, After it aired Matt Stone and Trey Parker released the following statement" and then shows the original message that was released after the episode aired.
Consequently, Muhammad, his name, and the speeches made by Kyle, Jesus, and Santa are still censored as in the broadcast version. Although the end speeches are still censored, the bleeps are accompanied with music on DVD, unlike the April 21, airing, which featured a raw audio bleep. In the episode's audio commentary, Parker only comments on the opening scene, noting that they did the episode as intended and sent it in. He and Stone comment that they are not supposed to talk about it. For the next several moments, a large audio beep obscures the commentary before Stone says "Yeah, that's pretty much it.
On January 31, , the original uncensored version of this episode was illegally leaked and distributed online without any approval of Comedy Central after a user on 4chan realized that the episode existed on the official website's web server and could be downloaded using rtmpdump.
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