Artist Thom Zahler writes concerning the South Park episode that aired last night and again this evening:
I’m a cartoonist and writer, and a fan of South Park. John wrote pretty well about it, but I wanted to make a comment on it, as some of the reports, while accurate, miss the context.
The episode was built around a network and the free speech/Mohammed hypocrisy. Mohammed’s appearance in the cartoon was of him handing off a football, purposefully tame. That’s when the “Comedy Central won’t air this part” popped up. Then, in the cartoon, the Muslim extremists react by making their own offensive cartoon, including the images of Jesus and Bush defecating on themselves and the American people.
That, to me, is the brilliance of it. They knew Comedy Central wouldn’t air Mohammed, but would air the Jesus/Bush images. They not only called out their network’s callowness, they illustrated it, and further showed how Americans DIDN’T riot upon seeing those images. Unless there was a story I missed this morning.
South Park has a rep for being vulgar, and fairly well deserved. But, more often than not, they don’t do it for shock value but to make a point, as this episode did.
Thom Zahler Art Studios
Cartooning, Caricature, and Graphic Design
I would add only that I was struck by both the brilliance and the pointless vulgarity (as it seemed to me) of the first “South Park” Mohammed episode last week. (I haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch last night’s episode — more later.)