Isaac Hayes has quit "South Park," where he voices Chef, saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion. Hayes, who has played the ladies' man/school cook in the animated Comedy Central satire since 1997, said in a statement Monday that he feels a line has been crossed.
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.
"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."
"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."
Last November, "South Park" targeted the Church of Scientology and its celebrity followers, including actors
Tom Cruise and John Travolta, in a top-rated episode called "Trapped in the Closet." In the episode, Stan, one of the show's four mischievous fourth graders, is hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out.
Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
AVC: There's some pretty harsh satire on South Park. They don't really care who they offend.
IH: But that's their thing! They're success was built on that cutting-edge stuff. I've had to defend them a lot of times. One time on BET Tonight I defended them because Tavis Smiley, the host on that show, was coming at me. It was a call-in show, too, so people were calling in. I told them not to take this stuff seriously. If you do, you'll get in trouble. Just enjoy it. Remember your high-school yearbook? You look at those pictures now, you laugh, right? That's what South Park is. You got to laugh at it. Because we cursed, but we just didn't dare let the principals, the teachers, or the preachers hear it. And we didn't turn out bad, okay? Just look at it that way. Also, usually there's some kind of moral message at the end for the kids, by the Chef.
AVC: They did just do an episode that made fun of your religion, Scientology. Did that bother you?
IH: Well, I talked to Matt and Trey about that. They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, "Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that bleep, you know?" But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses, and understand what we do. [Laughs.]
Dr. Fünke wrote:I think they should end the show after this, the tenth season.
vcalzone wrote:I think my favorite episodes they do now are the ones that are just so silly that they make me giggle all the way through. Like Marjorine. Or The Death of Eric Cartman. Or (my favorite from this season), Free Willzyx. Oh my god. That episode makes me laugh every time I see it. If it's on, I'll stop to watch the ending now even still. You cannot top the image of that whale being lifted into oblivion.
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