A new report details that HBO Max has banned five episodes of Comedy Central’s South Park because they depict the Prophet Muhammad.
Deadline reports that HBO Max refused to host five episodes of South Park because they depict Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
According to the report the shows not shown are Season 5’s “Super Best Friends,” Season 14’s “200” and “201,” and Season 10’s Cartoon Wars Part 1 and Cartoon Wars Part 2.
“Super Best Friends,” “200,” and “201” had previously been banned from Comedy Central’s deal with Hulu where South Park had been available for streaming. They were also not available to stream on the official South Park website.
“Cartoon Wars Part 1” and “Cartoon Wars Part 2” are still available to stream on the South Park website.
Episodes “200” and “201” were censored by Comedy Central when they aired. They blacked out the character and bleeped his name.
According to The Guardian, the original censorship in 2010 came after Comedy Central received “a warning from a New York-based group of extremist Muslim converts that could be construed as a death threat.”
They specifically detailed it came from a website titled Revolution Muslim and that they threatened that Matt Stone and Trey Parker “will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh.”
The Guardian explains that the website hosted a picture of Van Gogh with his throat cut and knife in his chest. Van Gogh was assassinated in 2004 after he directed “Submission: Part 1” that documented the abuse women faced in Muslim countries.
They also directed individuals to Comedy Central’s New York headquarters writing, “You can pay them a visit at these addresses.”
Following the censorship, Stone and Parker issued a statement picked up by The New York Times that read, “In the 14 years we’ve been doing ‘South Park’ we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central, and they made a determination to alter the episode.”
The statement also detailed there would be a speech at the end of the episode “about intimidation and fear” but it was also censored. Parker and Stone wrote, “It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too.”
They then added, “We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different, and we’ll see what happens to it.”
In a discussion about South Park to celebrate its 20th season back in 2016, Doug Herzog, the Comedy Central executive who originally greenlit the show, explained that the decision to censor the episodes when they originally aired was to protect the team.
Herzog explained, “We were protecting everyone who works here. That was the decision we needed to make.”
South Park creator Trey Parker would indicate the decision to censor the episode pissed him off. He explained, “What pissed me off about episodes 200 and 201 was that I thought the episodes ended up being really good.”
He added, “We were so exhausted by it all, we were like, “F*** it, just get on to the next episode.” That was the hardest we’ve ever pushed back.”
As to what that push back looked like South Park producer Vernon Chatman detailed they threatened to leave like Dave Chappelle. Chatman stated, “Trey bought a ticket to South Africa and showed it to the head of the network because Chappelle had fled to Africa. So that was the threat.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the decision to have these five episodes not appear on HBO Max was made with South Park Studios’ agreement. South Park Studios is a joint venture between South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Comedy Central.
At that time, Comedy Central censored the episodes after a fatwa was released against the series. According to The Guardian, the censorship followed after a warning from a New York based group sent the death threat through their website.
HBO Max reportedly snagged all 23 seasons of South Park except these five episodes for a cool $500 million.
What do you make of these five episodes not being available on HBO Max?