A couple days ago, I posted about the supposed controversy around the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet" being pulled by parent company Viacom, ostensibly in response to Tom Cruise threatening to pull ads for Mission: Impossible: 3 if the episode was aired. Daily Variety reported yesterday that an anonymous Cruise spokesman denied the allegations, but an interesting statement from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone - signed "Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu" - seems to indicate otherwise. Parker and Stone were reportedly told not to discuss the reasons behind the episode being pulled, but did anyone really expect those boys to stay muzzled for long? I think not.
Now the heavies are getting into the game. Jim Emerson, writing on the Scanners blog on Roger Ebert's website, wrote earlier this week about the brouhaha around Isaac Hayes' abrupt departure from South Park, and yesterday posted another lengthy piece about the issue of Scientology and the First Amendment. Now even Andrew Sullivan is getting on the bandwagon, urging his readers to demand the airing of "Trapped in the Closet" and, while they're at it, to boycott Mission: Impossible: 3. Rolling Stone has a really good in-depth article on Scientology in general, as well - one of the few pieces with which the Scientology bigwigs actually cooperated. It's long, but an engrossing read.
It'll be interesting to see on which horn of this little dilemma the folks at Viacom will choose to impale themselves. Piss off mega-movie-star and high-level Scientologist Cruise and run the episode again, to prove to everyone they weren't lying out their asses when they claimed they only pulled the episode in order to run episodes featuring Hayes, in a farewell tribute? Or piss off their viewers, South Park fans, Parker and Stone, and defenders of the First Amendment in general by keeping the episode, well, in the closet?