Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hypocrites 'R Us

Isaac Hayes has decided to quit supplying the voice of Chef on South Park because suddenly he's offended at the way the show's creators poke fun at religion. Actually, the show pokes fun at everything and everyone, which is part of its crude charm. But why did Hayes decide after ten years that the show was too much? He claims that it was because the program went from parody to intolerance in its depiction of religious values and ideals. What that really means is that the show crossed the line from parodying real religions to cults like Scientology, which happens to be Hayes's faith of choice.

Hayes had no problem with Terrence & Philip singing "Uncle F----r" or with Jesus getting in a bloody showdown with Santa Claus or with Saddam Hussein's homosexual relationship with Satan, but throw a couple of low blows at Tom Cruise, the Moses of Scientology, and he's offended. Come on, Isaac. You're cooler than that. Or at least I thought you were. Grow up, man.

Hayes's reaction to Matt Stone and Trey Parker's material is reminiscent of a soft bigotry (to co-opt a Bush phrase) that is increasingly prevalent in our society. Many of us like to pretend that we have a very high tolerance for other views and values, or lack thereof; that we are forgiving and are not easily offended by things like South Park. There is an elaborate ruse among these people that they themselves buy into about their big hearts and their open minds, but that only lasts until something rubs them the wrong way. Then it's all about boycotts and lynch mobs. For Hayes, it's okay when it's happening to the other guy, that's when it's about art and free speech and free thought. But when that crude humor was turned in his direction, suddenly it was filthy and intolerant.

Fine, Isaac, quit South Park. And just for you, I'm going to take my Shaft LP to the pawn shop and sell it, because you're just not as cool as I thought. And that's the most offensive thing of all.

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