South Park declares war on Tom Cruise

Cartoon's parody of Scientology is taken off air, prompting accusations of censorship

He has defeated enemy fighter pilots and alien forces. But now Tom Cruise faces his most dangerous foe ever: a foul-mouthed foursome of pre-teens.

If that seems sort of humiliating, wait for the rest. While the children are no more real than the mechanical invaders in War of the Worlds, Cruise's campaign to crush them is far from fictional. It's Tom Cruise vs South Park. And it promises to be fun.

South Park is the less than respectful television animation series that has sustained its popularity for a decade because of its fearless satirising of anyone and everyone. It drew headlines early last week, however, when musician Isaac Hayes, who since 1997 has been the voice of Chef, suddenly upped and left in a huff.

Hayes declared that South Park, which follows the hell-raising of the four kids, had gone too far in its lampooning of religion. Specifically, he was cross about its recent mocking of the Church of Scientology. Hayes is a Scientologist. So is Cruise.

The departure of Hayes created some publicity for the show and its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. But now things are even more interesting. Comedy Central, the channel that broadcasts it in the US, was scheduled to air a repeat of the episode that had so upset Hayes on Wednesday night. But then, suddenly, it didn't.

South Park fans cried censorship. Why had Comedy Central yanked the episode? They now think they have the answer: Tom Cruise is the culprit. According to several Hollywood websites, he used his considerable Tinseltown influence to muzzle the show.

Parker and Stone are not taking this lying down. "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the two said in a statement that seemed to parody Scientology as science fiction. "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!!!"

But for the epic battle, Cruise has a secret weapon. It is alleged that he threatened to withdraw from any promotional activity for his next film, Mission: Impossible III, out on 5 May. The movie has been made by Paramount, which is owned by Viacom. And Viacom owns Comedy Central.

In the controversial episode, one of the characters, Stan, takes a Scientology test and scored so highly that disciples of the religion are crowding his home declaring him their new leader. And, wouldn't you know it, Cruise is there too, waiting in Stan's bedroom. He asks Stan what he thinks of his acting. Stan is not kind, and a deeply offended Cruise hides in the bedroom closet. Then the episode veers into the territory of Cruise's sexuality. Stan begs him to come out of the closet. About 40 times.

Everyone involved is denying everything, of course. Comedy Central says it pulled the episode so it could run two episodes featuring Chef as a tribute to Hayes. Paramount says Cruise never made threats. And Cruise, through a spokesman, said the same.

And no one believes a word of it. The Los Angeles Times dubbed the flap Closetgate. "For Stone and Parker, Closetgate will be the gift that keeps on giving," it said.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn