Cartoon Wars Part I
Hysterical panic sets in when news that the animated TV show, Family Guy, will air an image of the Muslim prophet Mohammed in an upcoming episode. Fearing it will incite extremist violence, everyone barricades themselves in the community center and waits for the worst. To their relief, the image is censored by Fox at the last minute. But the townspeople's hysteria returns when they learn the episode is only the first half of a two-parter, and that during the next installment, Mohammed will definitely appear. The boys are on opposite sides of this issue -- Stan and Kyle like the show and feel like censoring it would be a strike against free speech. Cartman, however, is unusually sympathetic to the Muslim religion. He calls Family Guy's actions an insult to Islam and an invitation to holy war. More importantly, he vows to do something to stop it. After Kyle has a gruesome nuclear nightmare where he experiences the loss of his family due terrorist attacks, he is swayed to Cartman's way of thinking. Kyle agrees to accompany Cartman on his Big Wheel mission to Los Angeles to try to get the episode pulled. It doesn't take long, however, for Cartman's true motives to surface. He could care less about the Muslims or the threat of violence. He just hates Family Guy. Cartman reasons that if he can get just one episode pulled, other pressure groups will be able to get the ones they hate pulled as well. The show will thus lose all credibility and be cancelled. Angry at being betrayed, Kyle vows to impede his plan, and the two embark on a high-speed Big Wheel chase down the highway. Kyle eventually loses control of his tricycle and bails out just as it careens over a cliff and crashes into the valley below, exploding on impact. Bruised and battered, he watches helplessly as Cartman, laughing, pedals off into the distance. Meanwhile, South Park's residents cope with the fear of impending doom. They call in an expert University Professor, who lays out the most practical plan: In order to show Islamist radicals that they had no part in Family Guy's actions, they must literally bury their heads in the sand. The townspeople soon agree, and begin the massive undertaking of burying everyone's head beneath a mound of sand. In Hollywood, President Bush arrives to personally appeal to the President of Fox, stressing the episode must be censored as a matter of national security. However, the President of Fox is accountable to the writers of Family Guy. They insist the image of Mohammed not be censored. He then tells Bush the bizarre truth about Family Guy's writing staff -- a truth that won't be revealed until . . . Part Two.
What I Learned Today
"Freedom of speech is at stake here, don't you all see? If anything, we should all make cartoons of Mohammed, and show the terrorists and the extremists that we are all united in the belief that every person has a right to say what they want! Look, people, it's been real easy for us to stand up for free speech lately. For the past few decades we haven't had to risk anything to defend it. But those times are going to come! And one of those times is right now. And if we aren't willing to risk what we have, then we just believe in free speech, but we don't defend it!"
- "If we're still alive in the morning, then we'll know we're not dead!" (Stan's dad)
- "How would you feel, Kyle, if there was a cartoon on television that made fun of Jews all the time?" (Cartman)
- "Muslims are mad because of Family Guy, not because they can't jerk off." (Cartman)
- "Compare me to Family Guy again and so help me I will kill you where you stand." (Cartman)
- "You think THAT'S bad Remember when I auditioned to be David Hasselhoff's car?" (Peter Griffin)
- "Try my Mr. T Tea." (Mr. T)
- "It's Friday night, but you can't have sex, and you can't jack off, there's sand in your eyes and probably in the crack of your ass, and then some cartoon comes along, from a country where people ARE getting laid, and mocks your prophet!" (Ms. Garrison's 'Muslim Sensitivity Training' Lecture)
- "FAMILY GUY!! I damn you to hell!!" (Stan's dad)
South Park-ified versions of the Family Guy characters: Peter, Lois, Stewie, Meg, Chris, and Brian, the family dog (who resembles a black-eared Snoopy). They look like bizzaro versions of the Fox originals. There's also Professor Thomas from the University. He's the brilliant mind behind the "bury your head in sand" technique.
Behind The Scenes
Where Did The Idea Come From
The episode was inspired by the uproar over a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting the prophet, Mohammed, and the knee-jerk self-censorship it inspired in the West. Matt and Trey's stance, portrayed quite elegantly in this two-parter, is that while Muslims are certainly entitled to believe whatever they want, trying to intimidate the rest of the world into doing the same infringes on free expression. Even worse, bowing to such threats is the lowest form of moral cowardice.
Pop Culture References
The dream sequence in which Ike and Kyle get blown up by an atomic bomb is a reference to a similar scene in Terminator II: Judgment Day. Also, the opening scene with everyone fleeing their houses in terror is an homage to the 2005 flick War of the Worlds. In the fake Family Guy clips, we see a bunch of celebrity one-offs: David Hasselhoff a la Knight Rider, Mr. T serving up some tea, and Captain Kirk (from Star Trek) singing Captain and Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together." In Cartman's speech about "television economics," he explains that all it takes to kill a show forever is to get one episode pulled -- saying, "it's exactly what happened to Laverne & Shirley." In the middle of their heated argument, Cartman distracts Kyle with, "Oh my God is that Tim McGraw?!" The mere mention of this country-singing superstar is enough to distract Kyle and give Cartman a head start.
Although they're only fictional characters, the cast of Family Guy gets it pretty hard here. This episode features several minutes of mock Family Guy footage -- complete with throw-away gags and random jokes. The result is surprisingly on point.
Music from Team America: World Police plays during this episode's closing credits. Stan's mom reads the bedtime story The Bubble Gum Prince in 'The Land of Chocolate' to her son. The entire show focuses on the chaos that would ensue if the image of Mohammed was shown on television. Ironically, South Park already did just that -- in Season 5's "Super Best Friends." Mohammed was a crucial, totally-uncensored member of the Super Best Friends. Cartman packs a bag full of man-supplies for his trip to Los Angeles: Cheesy Poofs, Snacky Cakes, doughnuts, Dr. Pep-er, and Sprite. He eventually will use these items to run Kyle off the road in a fantastic James Bond-type car chase.
Cartman's ferocious assertion that he is "nothing like Family Guy" reflects the South Park creators' annoyance at constantly being compared to the show. Cartman's passionate speech to Kyle in the middle of the highway is particularly introspective -- laying out all the reasons why he is "nothing like Family Guy."