Archive for April, 2006

Opus Dei demands disclaimer for Da Vinci Code

After failing to get an “Adults Only” rating and failing to get the film changed, the secretive Catholic group Opus Dei, are now trying to get a disclaimer at the start of the film emphasising that it is a work of fantasy. In a statement, the group said:

Some media have written that Sony is examining the possibility of putting at the beginning of the film an announcement to clarify that it is a work of fantasy and that any similarity with reality is purely coincidental.

If memory serves me correctly, a similar statement is put at the end of the credits of just about every film. What are the odds that after the film is released, Opus Dei will be saying how good it was Sony put such a statement in the film, even when they probably were going to anyway?

It reminds me of an episode of (I think) Red Dwarf in which a newsreader says that the missing first page of the Bible has been found, which contains such a disclaimer. I’m sure Opus Dei wouldn’t mind if the Bible was published with that disclaimer.

Was South Park censored?

Last week, MWW reported on an episode of South Park in which the end asked wether Comedy Central would dare to show an episode featuring an image of Mohammed.

The play within a play format makes things very hard to figure out, but according to details of the show over at The Volokh Conspiracy, there could well have been some censorship. In the show, Fox are about to show an episode of Family Guy featuring Mohammed. At a point in the show where Mo is to be seen handing a football helmet to the Family Guy, the following words appear on the screen:

In this shot, Mohammed hands a football helmet to Family Guy.

Followed by:

Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network.

In the South Park episode Jesus is shown defacating on people, and being defacated on, but if the “censorship” is genuine, this isn’t considered as bad as showing Mohammed standing around being normal.

Of course this could all be Matt Stone and Trey Parker having a joke around, but in the current climate we can’t tell. More on this as and when we find it!

Thanks to Andy Gilmour for the link.


According to this article, the creators of South Park were told weeks ago that they could not run an image of Mohammed. An un-named individual who is close to the show said that the decision was made over concerns for public safety. Comedy Central issued a statement today saying:

In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision.

What does it say when a TV station is scared of showing an image of Mohammed standing around being normal, but is fine with showing Jesus literally being crapped on? It shows that the bosses of Comedy Central are self-censoring cowards who have no respect for artistic integrity. It also shows them as hypocrites for allowing the show to insult one religions prophet, but not even show anothers. Matt Stone and Trey Parker have shown that hypocrisy in excellent fashion, and they are the only ones who come out of this with any credit.

It also makes you wonder where this self-censorship when it comes to Islam is going to take us. Comedy Central have previously been known as a network not afraid of pushing the boundaries, as shown by airing South Park in the first place, but now they seem scared shitless of offending Muslims. When they’re scared of showing Mohammed doing nothing, but not of showing Jesus being shat on, it just shows that these Mo-toon protesters are having way too much influence.

JS:TO hits Cambridge

Jerry Springer:The Opera is continuing it’s UK tour, and is currently performing in Cambridge. The Cambridge Evening News reports on the protests. You can probably guess the quotes from the protesters, but the article is worth a read anyway, as after the report on the protests comes a review of the show, and the writer of the article evidently loved it, saying:

I’m pretty sure that even the individuals protesting outside the venue wouldn’t have been able to resist a smile at the hilarious antics on stage if they’d got themselves tickets.

While they were standing outside predicting the imminent descent of our souls into a fiery hell we were all inside rolling in the aisles. Writers Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee haven’t just ripped up the opera rule book, they’ve drop kicked it into an industrial paper shredder.

Speaking of the writers, Richard Thomas is also quoted in the first part of the article, saying:

I still to this day have absolutely no idea what all the fuss is about. I’m bewildered, it feels like I have stepped back a century.

Following the article about the protests with a glowing review of the show is a masterpiece of editing, and I suspect the writer may just have done it on purpose. He clearly wasn’t impressed with the protests. I’ll leave the last word to the reviewer from the newspaper, who almost perfectly sums up the show in two brief paragraphs:

If you take it as an examination of the excesses of popular culture then it works. Or perhaps you prefer to look on it as the story of a man struggling to balance the ethical dilemmas of his life.

Failing that you could just sit back and soak up the hilarious sight of opera singing rednecks trying to outdo each other with deliciously colourful insults.

Channel Four tops complained about shows list

Before I get into the main part of the article, I’ll just let you know that I’ll be blogging on MWW for a short while as Monitor takes a well deserved holiday. You all may know me from my comments on the site (Originally as Andrew Nixon, more recently as just plain andrew), and I hope my contributions match the sites usual quality. Anyway, on with the story…..

We’re a bit late covering this one, but it’s worth a quick blog anyway. The Evening Standard reports that Channel Four is the most complained about channel on UK TV, according to figures from Ofcom. Eight shows in the top 20 most complained about shows are from the channel, with Big Brother coming in first place (1,147 complaints), with the celebrity edition making it into the “hit parade” at third place. According to that table, Coronation Street is six times as offensive as the BNP party political broadcast. BBC Two and, remarkably, Channel Five escape the top 20 list.

Of course such an article has to contain something from those rent-a-quote “moral guardians” over at mediawatch. John Beyer was obviously too busy, so it was left to his deputy David Turtle to accuse the channels of “dumbing down” and highlighting “bad language, violence and a constant diet of bad behaviour”. More comments from Tuttle follow:

“When even the BBC is cutting back on reality shows Channel 4 seems intent on putting out more of the same, but the net result is they are alienating and upsetting their viewers.

“Even family shows like Emmerdale and Coronation Street are churning out sensationalist plotlines with ever-increasing violence and sexual behaviour. They have dumbed down and as a result are offending more of their audience.”

As the top 20 list shows, not even 1% of most of the show audiences actually complained, so it can’t be that much of a problem can it? Some sense came from a Channel 4 spokeswoman who said:

An important part of Channel 4’s job is to push boundaries in TV. While we operate within the guidelines set by our regulator, we are bound to provoke a strong response and stimulate debate among viewers.

South Park Mo-toons

There’s a buzz around the internet about the most recent episode of South Park. It’s the number 1 search on Technorati.

Read the Officer’s Club link above to get a summary of this two-part story so far. It ended in a cliffhanger with the narrator asking:

Will the people of America be safe? Will Fox let the Family Guy air? Will they show Mohammed Uncensored? Find out next week to see if Comedy Central pusses out.

Matt Parker and Trey Stone appear to be throwing down the gauntlet to Comedy Central: make a stand for free speech, or cave in to threats from religious fanatics.

Mohammed has already featured in an episode of South Park, Super Best Friends.


It’s probably worth quoting a speech by a citizen of South Park from the recent episode:

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 really 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. One of those times is right now. And if we aren’t willing to risk what we have now, then we just believe in free speech, but won’t defend it.

UPDATE: The episode is available to download free (upon registration) at South Park Stuff. It is worth it.

Freethinker editor jailed for Jesus-toons

OK, it was over 120 years ago, but still… The founding editor of The Freethinker, G W Foote, was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment with hard labour for publishing the cartoon on the right in the Christmas 1882 edition.

In celebration of 125 years continuous publication, and in light of the Mo-toon controversy, Barry Duke, the current editor, has uploaded 10 sacrilegious cartoons from Victorian era Freethinker for your viewing pleasure.

In the first issue of the magazine, G W Foote wrote,

The Freethinker is an anti-Christian organ, and must therefore be chiefly aggressive. It will wage relentless war against Superstition in general, and against Christian Superstition in particular. It will do its best to employ the resources of Science, Scholarship, Philosophy and Ethics against the claims of the Bible as a Divine Revelation; and it will not scruple to employ for the same purpose any weapons of ridicule or sarcasm that may be borrowed from the armoury of Common Sense.

There is a large number of people around today who would still like to silence voices such as his. Let us not scruple to employ the weapons of ridicule and sarcasm in defence of free speech and reason.

Springer protests in Oxford and Bradford

Bradford based anti-Springer protestors have won a “hollow victory” in their campaign to have the show cancelled. They will be granted an audience of the full Bradford Council, where they will be able to make their case – but only after the show has been staged at the city’s Alhambra in May.

Meanwhile in Oxford, where the show is currently playing, security has been “stepped up” in order to deal with any potential problems caused by protesting Christians. On Monday, the opening night, “crowd control was employed”, according to The show is on at the New Theatre until Saturday.

Religious thuggery in Paris

french cafe

The Middle East Times tells the story of a cafe in the Belleville banlieu of Paris which wanted to display an exhibition of blasphemous cartoons.

La Mer à Boire had put up around 50 drawings by well-known French cartoonists, each mocking some aspect of religion and religious belief. No particular relgion was targeted, and there were none of the Mo-toons. But a gang of children who played football across the street from the café accused the owners of being “racist” and proceeded to attack the drawings with sticks and iron rods. The customers chased them away, but they kept coming back.

Then some older youths approached the café owners:

“They said they did not approve of what the youngsters had done. But what we were doing was unacceptable, too. They warned us that if we didn’t take down the cartoons they would call in the Muslim Brothers who would burn the cafe down,” said Marianne. “They kept saying: ‘This is our home. You cannot act like this here’,” she said.

The café owners refused to take the exhibition down, but covered each picture with a sheet of paper bearing the word “censuré”. Customers can still see the cartoon if they lift the sheet.

Ridley Scott to make Mohammad biopic

According to the IMDB, veteran British film-maker Ridley Scott has announced that his next project is to be an epic biography of the prophet Mohammad.

The director of Heaven and Earth, Gladiator and Bladerunner is apparently unconcerned about the controversial nature of his project.

The taboo on depictions of the prophet Mohammed was originally about discouraging idolatry. There is no chance of anyone accusing this film of being idolatrous.

Scott, who co-wrote the screenplay (working title: Mohammad!) says it will be a “warts-and-all” portrait of the prophet which sticks closely to historical Islamic source texts.

There is a lot of disinformation and misunderstanding about Mohammad and Islam in the world today, and I believe this film will act as a corrective. Yes, there will be objections from some quarters, but I am convinced that the time is right for a movie on this subject.

When asked about some of the more problematic events in the life of Mohammad, such as his alleged marriage to the 9-year-old Aisha, Scott was remarkably frank.

There were some questions raised about whether or not to depict this particular episode, but we decided to tackle the issue head on. It’s there in the source texts, and as serious film-makers we felt obliged to record it without attempting to gloss it over in any way. In fact, Aisha is the one part that we have already cast. Sharon Stone is very excited about it.

Iqbal Sacranie of the MCB was reportedly furious when he first heard about the project. However, when he was offered the role of head consultant on Islamic matters, he had a change of heart:

I am proud to be part of this important project which will increase understanding of Islam and build bridges between faith communities.

A spokesman for the recently-formed MAC (Muslims Against Comedy) was less enthusiastic, branding the film “the height of bad manners” and muttering darkly about “consequences”.