Tom Cruise better fire another publicist.
I heard that this week’s episode of South Park was going to take on the Church of ScientologyTM. But none of the channels I get show it. Fortunately, it’s one of the most pirated TV programs out there, so I swallowed my usual moral qualms about downloading shows from the Net and snagged a copy.
I then spent the next 20-odd minutes alternately staring in bug-eyed amazement or laughing out loud as the criminal cult got itself thoroughly pwn3d.
Wanting to save money for a bike, Stan goes in search of free fun. Unfortunately, the first thing he comes across is a Church of ScientologyTM offering their “free personality test.” They convince him that he is depressed and in need of “auditing,” so he forks over his savings. The results of the auditing convince the ScientologistsTM that Stan is in fact the reincarnation of their founder, L. Ron Hubbard, himself.
The set-piece of the episode (and the best part) is a pretty darn good explanation of Scientology’sTM “Xenu” legend, as presented by the “President” of the Church:
You see, Stan, there is a reason for people feeling sad and depressed. An alien reason. It all began 75 million years ago. Back then there was a galactic federation of planets, which was ruled over by the evil Lord Xenu. [Xenu: Ha ha ha ha ha ha!] Xenu thought his galaxy was overpopulated, and so he rounded up countless aliens from all different planets, and then had those aliens frozen. [Alien: Oh no! Aaaah! Xenu: Ha ha ha ha!] The frozen alien bodies were loaded onto Xenu’s galactic cruisers, which looked like DC-8s except with rocket engines. The cruisers then took the frozen alien bodies to our planet, Earth, and dumped them into the volcanoes of Hawaii. The aliens were no longer frozen. They were dead. The souls of those aliens, however, lived on, and all floated up towards the sky. But the evil Lord Xenu had prepared for this. [Xenu: Ha ha ha ha!] Xenu didn’t want their souls to return and so he built giant soul-catchers in the sky. The souls were taken to a huge soul-brainwashing facility, which Xenu had also built on Earth. [Alien souls: Aaaah!] There the souls were forced to watch days of brainwashing material, which tricked them into believing a false reality. Xenu then released the alien souls, which roamed the earth aimlessly in a fog of confusion. At the dawn of man, the souls finally found bodies which they could grab on to. They attached themselves to all mankind, which still to this day causes all our fears, our confusions, and our problems.
This is shown, in all its crudely animated glory, with a banner declaring “THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE.” Mind you, they got a few minor details wrong – for example, they mangled some of the cult’s weird jargon (there’s no such thing as a “thetan level”), and Hubbard didn’t live on a ship crewed only by young boys (though he had a staff of personal servants composed almost entirely of scantily clad teenage girls). But in the main, that is basically the core of Scientology’sTM secret doctrine.
Or should I say former secret doctrine? It’s hard to believe that it has now been over ten years since Scientology’sTM secret “scriptures” were posted to the Internet and described in detail in the Washington post, resulting in a lawsuit that entered them into the public record. The floodgates opened: in December 1995, Wired ran a classic article about Scientology’sTM war against the Net. In 1996, investigative reporter Mark Ebner joined ScientologyTM for a few weeks, then used his experiences to write a blistering article for Spy magazine in 1996. (I have heard that Stoen and Parker used Ebner as source material.) Ten years ago, virtually no one would have mocked this crap in public like this; today, ScientologyTM “secrets” are ridiculed openly and cartoon scriptwriters dare the cult to sue them. (The episode ends with Stan revealing that it’s all a global scam and taunting Church officials to sue him; when the credits roll, everyone is named either John Smith or Jane Smith.)
A mildly humorous subplot involves celebrity ScientologistsTM Tom Cruise and John Travolta hiding in Stan’s closet. Both actors have been dogged for a number of years by rumours that they are secretly gay and are being blackmailed by the ScientologistsTM to prevent them from “blowing” (quitting the Church). A few years ago, Cruise successfully sued a gay porn star who defamed him by claiming they had had an affair.
Not surprisingly, Chef (voiced by longtime ScientologistTM Isaac Hayes) was nowhere to be seen.
I wonder how the cult will retaliate against Stone and Parker?
- Will they find promotional material from local mortuaries on their front doorstep? Robert Welkos, the reporter who co-authored a 1990 special report for the Los Angeles Times did.
- Instead of a brochure, will it be a dead cat? ScientologyTM critic Robert Minton, a millionaire who has bankrolled former Scientologists’TM lawsuits against the cult, claims someone left one on his property in 1997.
- Worse, will they come home to find their dog drowned in the swimming pool? That’s what happened to California superior court judge Ronald Swearinger, while he was presiding over a major lawsuit against ScientologyTM.
- Will a ScientologistTM stage a false hit-and-run incident to frame them? They did that to then-Clearwater, FL mayor Gabriel Cazares, because he opposed the secret takeover of his town by the cult. While he was visiting Washington, a “reporter” (actually a Scientology agent) was driving him somewhere when she hit someone (actually another Scientology agent).
- Or will the Church frame them for terrorist threats? After author Paulette Cooper wrote a scathing criticism of the Church, The Scandal of Scientology, in 1970, she was indicted for making bomb threats against the Church. They had stolen some of her stationery (with her own fingerprints on it) and forged the threats themselves.
In closing, this seems like as good a time as any to reveal my own South Park character, created at South Park Studios:
Pretty good likeness, too. Ain’t it cool?
(And I note also in closing that coincidentally, the TOS of xs.to, the free site hosting a number of my images, prohibits URLs with the word “scientology” in them. Respect their authoritah!)