Thursday, April 27, 2006

Getting a Clue

South Park is a wickedly funny show. Wicked in both senses. Irreverent, and down-right horrifying. I do catch it once in a while, for all that I don't watch TV. Apparently Mr. Garrison has had a "sex change" operation - or, as we used to call it, a castration. The two fellows behind the show - let's call them Trey and Matt - get it right: missing testicles and a mutilated penis don't make one into a woman. Silicon implants - or does that date me? ... is it saline now? - do not perform the function of mammary glands. A similitude is not the reality. The characters of South Park give their own very rational explanation, and it is refreshing. And wickedly funny.

But guess what? Matt and Trey produced their own al-Qaeda video, that shows Jesus defecating on the US flag and on George Bush. I didn't see it, but there it is. No, not at all funny. Just wicked.

Oh. But guess what? And here's the whole point. It wasn't Jesus. It was a cartoon - maybe not out of construction paper anymore, but a cartoon. So all of a sudden, maybe it isn't so wicked. It's like the movie from '88, The Last Temptation of Christ. Another clue: it wasn't about Jesus. It was all made up. Like a sex change operation - just a deceiving appearance.



Little Boy: Mommy, Billy called me booger-nose!
Mother: Well, honey, are you a booger-nose?
Little Boy: No!
Mother: Then Billy's just lying, isn't he. Shame on him.



Simplistic? Humph. It may please you to think so - although I'm quite proud of it actually. It's one of my finest efforts, in point of fact. And frankly my feelings are a little hurt. ... I just need a moment... Well, ahem, the point of my skit, which you so perfect missed, was that there are offenses that matter, and offenses that don't. I should have hoped you'd appreciate that. Apparently I was wrong. I think I'll have to re-evaluate our relationship. I just don't know who you are anymore.

Well. The odds are pretty strong that I would not like Matt and Trey. They seem like offensive a-holes, to me. Let's attack everything that other people value. That's what we call courage! If there was such a thing. But I've spent a pretty fair part of my life being an a-hole my own self - and I may still be one. That's the risk of almost always thinking you're almost always right. I don't even know if I respect them - I don't know their motives. But I respect their work. Not that they'd care. And that's the point. We pick and choose what it is we care about. Those of us who have some maturity can recognize the luck and the almost arbitrary nature of being right. Rather than fume and rage about those who are wrong, there would be some wisdom in pausing for a moment and mulling over the idea that people are allowed to be wrong. Not destructive, not criminal, not homicidal. But about opinions we're allowed to be wrong.

So. Perjury, say, matters. It powerfully undermines a necessary social institution. Vapid affrontery doesn't matter. What South Park reveals is our strength, and the fragility of the Moslems. Yeah, to have that fact revealed, we who care about Jesus have to suffer some discomfort and some offense. But words do not equate with blasphemy. It's the intent behind the words that give force to the curse. Killing Jesus was blasphemy. Angrily shouting "Jesus Christ" when you hit your thumb with a hammer is just rude. Rejecting the Holy Spirit is blasphemy. Manipulating badly rendered cartoon drawings in offensive ways is wicked comedy.


No comments: