Vantage point

Friday, April 23, 2010

VIACOM #FAIL Biggest Wuss-out in American History

*Here be spoilers about South Park 201*

Remember how excited I was during the South Park 200th episode? I was doubly excited when the continuing episode was about to start on Wednesday night. By the end of it, I was "conditionally enraged".

Why conditionally? Because I was not sure if what I saw was some really elaborate satirical meta-joke, or if it was the biggest ever wuss-out by an American company - the sort of censorship that would make even the most orthodox Indian Censor Board feel was excessive.

It was more or less expected that Comedy Central would censor Mohammad's image, like they did in the Cartoon Wars episode 4 years ago. Not only was Mohammad's image censored with a black rectangle, but every mention of the name 'Mohammad' was bleeped out. Since the episode revolved around him, you can imagine how many bleeps we heard. And since everyone knew the episode was about Mohammad, it seemed like a very very stupid thing to do to bleep them, unless it was a meta-joke.

Just like truth is stranger than fiction, I guess real people's real decisions are way stupider than anything Randy Marsh would ever do.

The worst part was, they bleeped out almost the entire last couple of minutes. The customary wrap-up of a South park episode with an "I learnt something today" speech by Kyle, which also had inputs from Santa and Jesus. Bleeped out!

So, was this a big joke or actual Goebbelian censorship?

Turns out it was the latter. Trey and Matt posted this statement on their website -

"In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that
we couldn't stand behind. 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. "

What makes Viacom's wussery even more wuss-ish, is that the so-called threats or "warnings" had been made by some random New-York-based group called Revolution Muslim. Yes, New York based, which means they probably can't even take a dump without federal agents knowing about it. And in the past, they have only gotten attention because the media showers them with it.

And of course, even after all this censorship, the group is not appeased, and is still making cleverly-worded non-indictable threats.