So, remember all the way back in 2005 South Park did an episode that made fun of someone important? It is understandable if you do not, because that is every episode of South Park.
What made “Trapped in the Closet” (or S09E12 to its friends) slightly unusual is that Tom Cruise personally had repeats of the episode banned by South Park‘s parent company Viacom because of the puerile, scurrilous and exceedingly funny insinuations they made about Cruise’s sexuality, as alluded to in the title of the show. But as the Village Voice, among others, is now reporting, the Church of Scientology let loose their private investigation team to try to silence the show’s creators, who at the time released this statement:
“So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!”
“Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu.”
Marty Rathbun, a former member of the church, yesterday released documents on the group’s modus operandi, which seems pretty endearingly low-rent considering the resources they have to play with. They perform a ‘PRC’ (public records check) to look for divorces, financial issues and the like, and shortly afterwards – their options presumably exhausted after obtaining information available to literally everybody – root through one’s rubbish to ascertain information about the investigatee’s diet, phone bills, bank records and alcohol consumption, maybe even smoking thin roll-ups and wearing fedoras. It is oddly comforting to know that the world’s largest secret society uses tactics described by Rathbun as “Cold War era intelligence and propaganda techniques” and generally is not very good at it.
The episode itself is pretty regular South Park fare: Stan stumbles across a group of Scientology personality testers, gives them $240 he was saving to buy a bicycle, and is ‘E-Tested’ (an actual thing) using a pair of metal handles and what looks a bit like a radio transmitter to count his ‘thetans’, ancient alien souls that inhabit all humans. It turns out he is the reincarnation of L Ron Hubbard, the science fiction author and scam-enthusiast and must complete his prophecies. Celebrities turn up to greet him, including Cruise, John Travolta and R Kelly, and some charmingly low-key trans-door dialogues.
The controversial scene has Stan informed of the church’s highest and most secret beliefs by the President of Scientology, shared only with a selected few with a sufficient number of thetans and cash donations to the group, and shown in sections in this video, starting from 0:48.
The episode ends with Stan challenging the Scientologists to sue him. Yesterday’s news shows the organisation wanted much more than that.
Got a favourite bit of South Park celebrity-baiting? Tell us in the comments.