Controversial South Park Cameos3
By Brittany Frederick
Controversial South Park Cameos
Comedy Central’s animated series, South Park, has been causing trouble since its premiere in 1997. Since its inception, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker intended for the comedy to entertain mature audiences in surreal, satirical and crude ways… and they have never faltered.
One of the most effective methods they use to deliver on their promise to always have cutting-edge (and often controversial) commentary is to feature cameos by relevant celebrities. Over their run, they’ve included personalities from every sphere. From Dallas star Patrick Duffy in season one (currently starring in Patrick Duffy and the Crab, another irreverent comedy) to Steve Jobs in season fifteen, cameos have been an integral part of the South Park brand. And as such, several appearances have been met with the same controversy as the show itself. Here are a couple of appearances that bunched some panties.
Patrick Duffy and The Crab – Discuss Losing Their Virginity
You can’t choose a higher-profile target than the Son of God. So, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have included Jesus Christ in the show time and time again – much to the ire of the deeply religious. Jesus has been seen using a gun, fighting Satan in a boxing match (and a priest bets against him!), and taking his father’s name in vain. Needless to say, this has repeatedly offended religious groups, who have referred to the show as “vile trash.”
2. Tom Cruise (and Scientology)
South Park’s mockery of Scientology may be the show’s most memorable controversy – if only because it may or may not have led to the departure of a major cast member. Two episodes and an MTV Movie Awards short have taken shots at the religion. The most recent mention aired in 2005 and involved Tom Cruise literally locking himself in a closet, refusing to come out – an obvious reference to the rumors surrounding the actor’s sexuality. In 2006, Isaac “Chef” Hayes (himself a Scientologist) left the show. Parker and Stone have stated publicly that they believe it to be because of his religion. However, Fox News reported that fellow Scientologists might have pressured him into said decision. Additionally, he was possibly still affected by a stroke he’d suffered just two months prior, providing another theory for his departure. We’ll never know.
vMaybe I was wrong. Perhaps there IS another religious figure whose presence attracts more attention than Christ himself. In its tenth season, South Park attempted to make an astute commentary on television censorship that resulted in even more censorship. The storyline featured Kyle persuading a FOX executive to air an image of the Muslim prophet Muhammad within an episode of Family Guy, despite a terrorist threat. The South Park episode itself met the same fate as its storyline. During the reveal, it ran a black screen telling viewers that Comedy Central had refused to air the image. Refusing to be deterred, Parker and Stone tried again on the show’s 200th episode and were again censored by the network.
4. The Virgin Mary
Making sure not to leave anyone out, South Park also offended the Catholic Church in its season nine finale – which shows a statue of the Virgin Mary menstruating and the Pope being sprayed with blood. The Catholic League launched an attempt to completely suppress the episode, not only calling for its removal from broadcast but also demanding it never be released on DVD. They were unsuccessful, as was a later attempt to keep it from airing in New Zealand.
5. Steve Irwin
In 2006, South Park portrayed nature expert Steve Irwin (better known as “The Crocodile Hunter”) with a stingray stuck in his chest (Irwin had been killed by a stingray just a few months earlier). This did not prove popular with Irwin’s many fans or his widow, Terri Irwin, who worried about the couple’s two children seeing the episode.
6. Mexican President Felipe Calderon
2009 included an episode in which Mexican President Felipe Calderon tried and failed to deal with an international crisis. The controversy around the cameo didn’t come from Calderon or his people, but from fans, who were upset when MTV pulled the episode in Mexico. The network claimed that the removal was not due to the cameo, but because they didn’t have permission to show the Mexican flag on TV. The fans didn’t buy it.
7. Michael Moore
When making Bowling for Columbine, controversial filmmaker Michael Moore interviewed Stone, a native of Littleton, Colorado. While he had no complaints about the interview itself, Stone was less than enthused about a South Park-esque cartoon that immediately followed his interview within the film, which seemed to imply that he and Parker had produced the animated piece. His response to the insinuation? Show Moore blowing himself up in the film Team America: World Police.
8. Jerry Seinfeld
This last controversial cameo never actually happened; that’s the controversy. In 2009, London’s The Independent reported that Jerry Seinfeld approached Parker and Stone about voicing a character on South Park. He was offered the role of “Turkey No. 2” in that year’s Christmas special, which he allegedly declined. Perhaps someone should have told Jerry that George Clooney was happy to provide the voice of Stan’s dog.
The above list is but a sampling of South Park’s celebrity cameos. Personalities like Jay Leno, Natasha Henstridge, and Henry Winkler have provided voices, while the show has impersonated the likes of John Elway and Saddam Hussein. With the show still going strong for the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say that there might be a few more names to add to this list in time…
Patrick Duffy and The Crab – Watch Americas Next Top Model
Patrick Duffy and The Crab – Discuss A Threesome
Brittany Frederick is an award-winning freelance entertainment journalist who reaches millions of people around the world every day with her unique blend of sophisticated analysis, sarcastic humor, and varied life experience. She maintains her own blog (DigitalAirwaves.net) and you can follow her on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).