Fireside Chat #17 (Spring ’06)

SOUTH PARK’S INEVITABLE DOWNFALL

I think we’ll all remember exactly where we were when we heard that Isaac Hayes quit “South Park.” As for me, I was sitting in Payson Library researching a topic for my weekly column.

If you’ve been living in a bomb shelter the past decade (like Brendan Fraser in the hilarious 1999 hit film, “Blast From the Past), Isaac Hayes has been playing the role of “Chef,” the children’s lovable, over-sexed life advisor on “South Park” ever since the show’s creation.

Now “South Park” has always been edgy, but Hayes’ departure is irrefutable, indisputable, ill-reputable proof that their “Trapped in the Closet” episode has gone too far.

It was all in good fun when “South Park” masterminds Trey Parker and Matt Stone took on controversial topics like sexual harassment, immigration, home-schooling,
Canada, Mormonism, Judaism, Christianity and Pokemon, but Isaac Hayes and I draw the line at making fun of Scientology.

In the 11-16-05 episode, Stan spends his bike money on an e-meter reading that tells him he is a reincarnation of the religion’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. By the end,
Hollywood heartthrobs John Travolta, Tom Cruise and their religion have all been ridiculed. The episode aired as usual in November, but when Viacom was threatened with a lawsuit, they pulled the episode from the show’s rerun roster.

Rightfully so. Scientology is nothing to poke fun at. They’re into activities like protesting the use of any prescription drugs, cutting off all ties any family members that publicly denounce the religion and charging exorbitant amounts of money for church membership—nothing that Christians haven’t tried at one time or another.

Also, like any cool secret club, Scientologists get their own buzzwords. I used to think I was cool for understanding “sanctification” and “exegesis,” but these guys have their own dictionary. To name a few: Apparency, automaticity, beingness, and destimulate. They’re the kind of nearly-plausible words that make you angrified at Microsoft Word for not recognating when working on a paper late at night.

If pressed to name my favorite thing about Scientology, it’s the saying, “You get what you give.” Me, I get a lot, which tells me that along the way in my billion-year lifespan (twenty-two of which I’ve spent in this mortal shell), I’ve done a few things right. Now all that previous-life good work is paying off, and I’m not even tired!

It’s also nice to know that the homeless are not merely economically inferior to me, but ethically as well, because if they were better people they wouldn’t be homeless. Now I can actually feel good about myself as I refuse to look them in the eye and pick up the pace when asked for spare change.

More than anything, we have to respect Scientology because of all its beautiful members. In addition to the obvious Tom and John, you’ve got Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, Juliette Lewis, Jason Lee, Jenna Elfman, Kirstie Alley, and of course, Mr. Isaac Hayes himself. Celebrities wouldn’t be celebrities if they were not better than the rest of us, so surely their religion is to be at the very least respected if too expensive to join.

Good luck, Trey and Matt, trying to cook up more episodes without your precious Chef. Be warned: If the new episodes aren’t funny, I’m suing you guys faster than you can say, “Upgrading to a sexier religion.”

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