South Park episode 201 was bound to court controversy. This would make South Park episode 201 no different than the past 200 shows. But to honor their milestone 200th show, the mountain town resurrected several old storylines and controversies. Of course, the biggest one of all was the Prophet Mohammed, who got the South Park treatment again in spite of massive concerns. The last time this happened, Comedy Central gave into censorship – though the show still used that for meaningful comedy. For South Park episode 201, pretty much the same thing happened, while they put a new spin on some other past milestones.
Last week, the show’s 200th episode was so huge and filled with past callbacks, they had to give it a part two. Tom Cruise and all the celebrities South Park had ever mocked brought back Mecha Streisand to terrorize the town. Meanwhile, ginger extremists also threatened to destroy the town – as both groups wanted the Prophet Mohammed so they couldn’t be mocked anymore.
Before South Park episode 201, Mohammed’s power to not get mocked was on display again. A radical website called Revolution Muslim warned Matt Stone and Trey Parker about depicting Mohammed this past Sunday. In fact, a post declared that they might end up like Theo van Gogh, who was killed for his documentary on Islam years ago.
The site claimed it was a warning and not a call to violence – but after South Park episode 201 aired, the question is how seriously everyone took it. Not only was Mohammed covered by a giant censored bar again, his very name was bleeped out this time. This left viewers wondering if Comedy Central gave into censorship, like in the last Cartoon Wars, or if Stone and Parker were the ones who caved.
The last time this happened, Stone and Parker used it to point out how other religious figures and sacred cows could get trashed without censorship. In South Park episode 201, they further used the bleeps for their own satiric means, especially when Cruise’s plan came to fruition. So the censoring could have been their idea, as a means for making another point.
Both Comedy Central and the South Park staff have not explained the censorship yet, or who ordered it. However, South Park episode 201 was not rerun at midnight, like most new episodes, and it is not online at South Park Studios yet.
Meanwhile, South Park episode 201 had other things to do besides skate around Mohammed. As Cartman pointed out, more people may have cared about the resurrected cliffhanger of who Cartman’s father is. That answer called back to Cartman’s most evil scheme ever, in more ways than one.
With the 200th episode extravaganza over – although the controversy isn’t – South Park will have one more new episode next week before shutting down for the spring.
South Park Studios
Entertainment Weekly- “South Park creators warned by radical Muslim website: Um, holy [bleep]!”
TV Squad- “South Park 201 Recap”