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TV REVIEW: South Park, Scientologists and Tom Cruise "Trapped in the Closet"

November 18, 2005  Al Barger

"TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET" IMAGES  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30

"Trapped in the Closet" Photo Notes

Trey Parker is literally just asking for it. Speaking obviously on his creator's behalf, the last line of South Park Episode 912 "Trapped in the Closet" [premiered 11-16-2005] has Stan shouting "I'm not scared of you. Sue me!"

South Park has gotten to be very good at stealthily committing acts of education against their unsuspecting audiences. They come looking for good old fashion poo and gay jokes, and get slipped significant factual educational information when they're not looking.

A big part of this is their skill in concocting properly outrageous frameworks for their lessons. In this case, the Scientologists decide that Stan is the reincarnation of the prophet L Ron Hubbard.

Thus, they are set up for a good big central joke when Stan/Hubbard dismisses Tom Cruise's acting, causing him to retreat into Stan's closet. Oh yes, they get every bit of juice out of this setup, with the police officer on the bullhorn demanding that Cruise "Please come out of the closet. Nobody's going to be mad." Eventually Nicole Kidman is in Stan's bedroom. "Come out of the closet, Tom. You're not fooling anybody."

Meanwhile for the meaty stuff, they slip in a whole brief history of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard and such. But then they get to the hardcore stuff, breaking off the details of the super-secret alien story underlying Scientology.

I'd heard previously something vague about the secret writings of Hubbard with the aliens, but not much detail. The church is infamous for being extremely legally heavy handed in preventing and punishing attempts at exposing this stuff.

Thus it was especially cool to be getting the forbidden knowledge explained and helpfully animated courtesy Parker and Stone, while running big letters on the screen just to make it real clear that "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE."

Then they explain about this evil alien Xenu from 75,000,000 years ago who trapped a bunch of space folk, froze them, dumped them into Hawaiian volcanoes, trapping their dead souls rising from the flames with his special "soul catchers." He then proceeded to brainwash the ghosts, and set them loose on Earth.

Thus, I am to understand the secret meaning of life involves an explanation that our troubles and sorrow are basically caused by demonic possession, as it were, by brainwashed alien ghosts. Holy crap, those people are more wigged out than the frickin' Catholics! Parker and Stone are comedy genius, but they couldn't make stuff like this up.

They've become pretty good at addressing religious themes, and giving good lessons in religious history. They did a historical explanation "All About the Mormons," but this Scientologist piece is more fun. Particularly, that is because this is just way more transgressive- literally asking for trouble.

The Mormons got a reasonably generous review. Yeah, of course Joseph Smith just made that silly Book of Mormon up out of the blue, but they concede that the church works pretty well for a lot of people. Especially, they recognized Mormons as good neighbors.

Whereas the Scientologists are clearly presented as a huge worldwide scam. The church is nothing but a huge money scam. Much emphasis is placed specifically on a $240 counseling fee. Everyone that follows them is an utter dupe.

Oh, of special interest to African-Americans and for that just plain twist of pure silliness that makes for a good South Park, dig R Kelly's extended songs pleading for Tom to come out the closet. That's just plain goofiness, climaxing with a really cute duet with the closeted duo of Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

The Scientologists are just the perfect target for South Park. They're really good comedic material- plus they're big bullies. Famously, Scientologist lawyers have shown up at people's houses with federal marshalls to seize their computers, claiming copyright and trademark infringement. They do not play.

But Trey Parker and the boys of South Park do, though. You know they would SO love to have Scientologists sue them, cause they know they're big enough to fight back. Oh no, don't throw me in that briar patch!

Tom Cruise, R Kelly and John Travolta in the South Park closet


Lord Xenu as South Park character


R Kelly as South Park character is gonna cap a bitch







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