Matt Stone and Trey Parker Sicced Xenu on Tom Cruise

Hail Xenu!
Matt Stone and Trey Parker Sicced Xenu on Tom Cruise

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Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s South Park took on every major religion that deserved a poke in the eye, including Catholics and Muslims, but for years, they avoided Scientology even though it was “just so fucking funny,” Stone explained in the book Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians. It wasn’t that the guys were afraid of Scientology’s army of attorneys. “We were ignoring it,” Stone said, “just because Isaac Hayes, who played Chef, was a Scientologist.”

But finally, Parker joked, “We decided, fuck him.”

South Park did its Scientology episode, one that was just on this side of legal. “Scientology is known for taking people to court, so we had called Comedy Central’s lawyers, who said, ‘Well, if you follow these guidelines, you can do it,’” Stone explained. “And we did, but the way we do South Park is the reason that show got on the air. We do an episode in a week; if that show had sat on a shelf at Comedy Central, it would never have made it to air because they would’ve gotten cold feet.”

Understandably, Hayes wasn’t pleased. He asked the guys to yank the episode, but Stone said, “Isaac was a really nice guy. I think someone put him up to trying to make us pull it.”

Not surprisingly, Hayes’ discomfort paled in comparison to Tom Cruise’s, who was downright incensed. The first time that the Scientology episode was scheduled to rerun, Stone got a call from Comedy Central. “The producers of Mission: Impossible III want the show pulled.” 

“We were, like, ‘Tom Cruise?’” 

“They said, ‘THE PRODUCERS of Mission: Impossible III want the show pulled. We’re gonna pull it tonight, and, uh, you guys can’t say anything.’”

Not saying anything wasn’t really part of the Stone/Parker ethos, but they understood in this case, they didn’t need to talk since everyone else would do it for them. Within hours, the South Park creators fielded calls from The New York Times, CNN and The O’Reilly Factor. The publicity did way more to boost Parker and Stone’s antagonistic bona fides than any rerun could have done.

The best counterattack, they decided, was to fight Scientology with Scientology. “See, the whole Scientology gig is that you have alien souls attached to your body,” said Parker. 

“And their Satan is named Xenu,” said Stone. “We’re not making this shit up.”

So Parker and Stone released a press release with a simple statement: “Ha ha, Scientology! Alien souls will be attached to your bodies forever, and you cannot save the human race. Hail Xenu!”

Praising Satan, er, Xenu, “turned out to be much more effective than starting a fight,” explained Stone, “’cause then you’d get into a pissing war with Tom Cruise.”

“And you don’t wanna be covered in Tom Cruise piss,” Parked added.


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