Stan Takes over “Whale Wars” and Battles the Japanese in South Park Episode 1311

The Japanese Are Killing Whales!

Where the idea to deal with the issue of whaling came from I’m not sure at all. But hey, it’s South Park. I guess it was the opportunity to paint Captain Paul Watson as a total worthless piece of shit. By the looks of things, he is, but hey, 19 times out of 20 I believe South Park so maybe I’m not the best judge (though I’ve got a feeling…).

So the episode begins with the Japanese massacring whales and dolphins at aquariums all over America, including, I have to mention, the incredible aquarium in my home town, the Georgia Aquarium. And the Japanese killed the Baluga Whales. NOOO! The Japanese hate dolphins so much that they even kill the Miami Dolphins!

Somebody tweeted, “no wildcat offense – damn you Japanese!” That was pretty funny.

What Stan Wants to Do About It

Incensed at the violence against whales, Stan tries to encourage his friends to do something. They’re all playing Rock Band (or Guitar Hero – I can’t tell the difference), and Cartman is singing Poker Face by Lady Gaga. Cartman’s response to Stan’s request is, “I’m not too busy. I just don’t give a shit – AT ALL.”

In order to save the whales from the Japanese, Stan joins the show Whale Wars, a show led by Captain Paul Watson, who South Park makes clear is an enormous and worthless, lying piece of shit. I love it when Matt and Trey go off on somebody through the show and just rip them a new asshole. This episode did an amazing job of that, even showing a real picture of Captain Paul Watson in the process (and a second one with “turd” spraypainted across his face).

Totally annoyed that Paul Watson is a liar with horrible ideas about how to prevent whaling, Stan takes matters into his own hands and blows up the Japanese whaling ship. After the very bloody death of Paul Watson (this episode has an unusually high amount of gratuitous violence, even for South Park), Stan takes over as Captain of Whale Wars, and as his efforts prove increasingly successful and his fame grows, magazines announce many hilarious things, including telling us that Stan “turns vegan pussies into actual pirates.”

On Larry King, Stan realizes that everybody is conflating his success with Whale Wars as being about the show’s rating and not saving the whales. As people say that it’s wrong to skirt the usual process of making a show (i.e. you can’t be a renegade and do things your own way but have to go through producers and scripting and directing, etc.), Stan just goes away to save the whales. I think that was South Park‘s dig at the protective nature of the television industry.

What the Whaling is Really About

After Cartman and Kenny join Stan’s Whale Wars in order to be on his now successful television show, the Japanese start Kamikaze bombing the whales and Stan’s boat. With the Japanese victorious, the boys end up in Japanese prison. Cartman starts playing a harmonica in the fashion of black slave songs and singing about his Japanese-imprisoned balls.

The Japanese president visits the three boys and takes them to Hiroshima and to the museum there. He explains that the Japanese have never recovered from the bombing of Hiroshima. The president then goes on to explain that it was a dolphin and a whale who bombed the Japanese in World War II, something they know because the Americans graciously gave them a picture of the plane that dropped the bomb – it was flown by a whale and a dolphin.

In order to deflect responsibility from the whale and dolphin, Stan provides the Japanese with a new picture that shows a cow and a chicken bombing Japan. As a result, the Japanese then begin viciously murdering cows and chickens.
Stan’s dad says, Good. Now they’re just like us.

Awesome.

Why This is Awesome

The Japanese don’t go whaling to be evil and murder dolphins and whales. They do it because they like to eat them – and they always have. We prefer cows and chickens and treat these animals horribly in order to eat what we like to eat. Though we’re not murdering them in the wild, we’re providing them with excruciating living conditions and a miserable existence.

Why? Because we like to eat them.

The Japanese kills whales in order to eat them, yet we consider whales a special and more sentient creature and get offended at the very idea. It’s our misplaced sense of cultural superiority that tells us that killing the animals we’ve decided to kill and eat is more acceptable than those that another culture prefers.

Some people are so caught up with the idea that we should “save the whales” and that whaling is evil (encapsulated by the show Whale Wars and its captain, Paul Watson), that we rarely stop to be introspective about our own animal-related decisions (and for the record I’m not a vegetarian nor a member of PETA or some other related fanatic). I just think that our sense of priorities can be misplaced. This doesn’t mean I think we should go whaling. I think that we should seek to treat all animals that we choose to eat in an ethical way and make sure that whatever we do to them is sustainable.

Best Episode of the Season

So far, I think this was the best episode of the season (by that I mean this half of the 13th season). It was outrageous, nailed a number of issues, some of which I’d never thoroughly considered (i.e. it made me think), and it brought things to my attention (like Whale Wars) that are totally stupid. At that, it was really funny and quite consistently so, unlike some other episodes whose jokes are farther between due to the need to move the plot and deal with a serious issue.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park. Check out reviews of other episodes this season.

“Something Wall-Mart Comes This Way,” South Park 809, Teaches That We Are the Soul of Wal-Mart

“If you want it to go away, all it takes is a little self control and personal responsibility,” Kyle tells people about how to get Wal-Mart out of South Park.

A lot of people don’t like Wal-Mart because they think it’s a big, giant, evil company. Moreover, it destroys local businesses by undercutting their prices. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m not that interested in mom-n’-pop stores most of the time. I know it sounds cruel but I like options, comfort and convenience. That’s not to say that I love Wal-Mart.

I used to love Wal-Mart when I lived in Atlanta, but for some reason, the Oakland Wal-Mart (there are none in San Francisco proper) sucks. The prices are high and it’s not that great. I don’t know why. Target, I found, was much better, but it still poses the same problem to small local business.

However, are these problems and the evil Wal-Mart does in the world reason enough for it not to be allowed somewhere? I don’t think so. If Wal-Mart buys the land and builds the store and you don’t like it – don’t go! That’s exactly what Kyle was trying to say. It’s not Wal-Mart that destroys local businesses – it’s our personal decisions to go there and buy its crap. It’s a free market and the choice lies with us. Have some self control and accept personal responsibility and Wal-Mart won’t matter.

People say similar things about Starbucks being evil and a big corporation and that it destroys local coffee-shops but you don’t have to buy your coffee there. People just do. Starbucks failed in Israel and Australia because the people just wouldn’t buy it. They thought their own coffee was better. Big corporations don’t have to succeed – we allow them to succeed. So, don’t bitch about Wal-Mart. You don’t like it? Don’t buy it.

Do you hate Wal-Mart? Do you like this episode and its message? Do you think I’m an idiot and need to tell me so?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

Topical Tuesday: If I Could Have Been the Author of Any Book it Would Have Been…

Slaughterhouse 5!

First, I jumped at the Bible. Oh to have written the Bible. But hey, I’m one guy in one place and that was written by dozens and dozens over the course of 1000 years so for the sake of keeping it a fascinating text, I let my dream of writing the Bible go.

My next reaction upon pondering this question was to look at my bookshelves and pick out something that I saw there. I love my book shelves. However, upon moving to San Francisco, I left them behind. I packed up hundreds and hundreds of books and stored them in my mother’s basement. With me came about two dozen.

I don’t really wish that I’d written any of the books I have here (other than maybe The Divine Comedy), and so I had to start thinking again from scratch. Of course, there are so many classics that I could have picked but what would my reasoning have been?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn could have made a fine selection. Mark Twain was brilliant. The book was sensational, influential, historically relevant, etc. But somehow I decided that I wanted something else. At first I was toying with sci-fi: The Hobbit, Dune. I really like the idea of creating a whole different world and think that it’s very difficult. I would love to move people’s imaginations that way. Stephen King’s epic The Dark Tower could have been excellent but Chandler and I did say 1 book.

Thus, I settled on Slaughterhouse 5. There are a couple of reasons. Personally, I’ve read the book about a dozen times. It reads so quickly and never ceases to amaze me. You can take so much away from this book. There are great one liners that stay with you – i.e., So it goes. There are hilarious quips about life’s odd situations. Billy, for instance, has a huge penis, and says, you never know who’s going to have one.

What’s more, the book has amazing historical relevance (related to the Crusades and WWII), an incredible message about war that it doesn’t just tell you but makes you feel, and makes you think 6000 times about the structure of the universe and time and other such things. I use the image of the Rocky Mountains from the beginning of time until the end of time all the time to convey various points about the nature of time. That and the attitude of the Trafalmadorians about life just make it an absolutely incredible book, with no extra words to spare.

So, thanks a lot Kurt Vonnegut for doing it first. Though I may not get your much deserved acclaim for this incredible masterpiece, I can certainly say that your book has inspired me on a personal level and for my writing. If I could publish – nay, write – anything comparable to the things you achieve inside that book I’ll be a very happy man.

What’s your favorite book? What book do you wish you’d written? If they’re different why? Did you like Slaughterhouse 5?

Enjoy your own copies of Slaughterhouse-Five, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Divine Comedy and many other great books.

Enjoy more book and movie reviews.

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The Zen of South Park Progress Report

I am glad to say that I’m finally back to work on The Zen of South Park. After packing in Atlanta, moving to San Fran, finding an apartment, setting it up with furniture and crap and then a few nights of sickness, I have, at last, begun to sit at my desk daily and plug away.

And it feels great.

We all have projects that we love, and they become such a part of us that to neglect them is like leaving your child in the rain while you go to the local bar. And then beating him when you get home. It’s just not cool – you know?

I am in the very serious editing stages of the book, which is to say that I have quite solid drafts of every chapter and am now perfecting them by tweaking jokes, analyzing word choice and examing the overall structure of each chapter for consistency, flow, and logic. I actually really enjoy this stage of editing because you can see your book go from a piece of writing to a manuscript. While doing this I am also taking notes on the single point of each section in each chapter so that I can properly write an introduction and conclusion.

As I always reiterate, There are no great writers – only great editors.

How is your project going right now? Did you catch the South Park marathon last night? Which episode did you enjoy most. Personally, I love the “Cartoon Wars” episodes. If you’d like to read an essay I wrote on them, called “A Defense of South Park,” click HERE.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

Topical Tuesdays: Volume and Pitch – The Noise a Writer Needs to Do the Deed

And just to clarify for those of you with less than savory minds (or particularly savory minds, as the case may be), that deed is writing.

Yes, this Topical Tuesday is all about the volume: TURN IT UP! Or maybe for me, turn it down. We’re all a little different with our noise preferences when we sit down at the computer to write (or just work), but in order to do what needs doing, we all need it to be the pitch and volume we like it.

Noise In Israel

When I was getting my Masters in Jerusalem, I happened to live on the corner of a particularly busy street (Hapalmach and Koveshei Katamon, for those of you who may be familiar), and it was a noisy street. The #13 bus ran down Hapalmach and began very early in the morning and ended very late. Cars honked incessantly (everywhere in Israel) and motorbikes roared. It was also heavily trafficked by pedestrians and people had no consideration for the volume of their voices as they reprimanded their children, called out to a friend or simply discussed the days events. Honestly, all that noise never made it too hard for me to work. I wrote and I read and I did just fine.

But then the Sabbath would come. Though Israel itself stays relatively lively on Saturday (that’s the Jewish Shabbat), Jerusalem truly becomes very quiet and Sabbath-like. All the buses stop, very few people continue driving, and though the foot-traffic increases so more people are talking on the streets, there really is something less noisy about it all. Shabbat was quiet and on Shabbat you better believe I could concentrate and got some work done (though you’re not supposed to work or use computers and electricity or write, but if that’s the only time Israelis shut-up what can God expect).

Quiet in the U.S.

Upon returning to America I lived in the suburbs in a quiet neighborhood where the only noise was the kids across the street playing for an hour outside as they got home from school. It was blissfully quiet. This is where I wrote most of my book, but this level of silence actually has its ups and downs.

It was so quiet that I’d get sleepy around 1 p.m. (after 5-6 hours of writing) and want to take a nap. With no noise or external distractions, I would succumb to this unnecessary sleeping sensation and waste the rest of my day napping, then being groggy, then saying it was too late to keep writing. So in this way, noise can be good for me and my work.

Volume Up

Now I live on a busy street in downtown San Francisco. Buses go by. People are loud checking into the hotel across the street and walking around, and the noises of the city (and my loud cat) keep me up. Though I haven’t begun writing again I think that this environment, similar to my life in Jerusalem, will keep me alert and active and able to write – and if I need to turn down the volume there are always earplugs, my recommendation to everyone who needs that whether awake or trying to sleep.

Oh, and as for music: only when I do mindless work. I can’t write to music at all because the rhythm doesn’t allow my brain to think entirely in its own way. Do you listen to music when you work?

Do you like noise or quiet when you work? Is your situation conducive to those needs? What tricks do you use to keep things at the proper volume for you?

For more on this Topical Tuesday discussion check out Chandler’s blog.

Interview with Ex-cult Member, Tifany

I’d like to introduce everyone to Tifany Lee. Tifany is currently a musician preparing to record her third album. You can check out the first two at her MySpace page or her website tifanylee.com and look forward to the third. She is also the editor of Heroine Magazine, an excellent publication that she is bringing in part to her new blog at tifanylee.wordpress.com. Tifany’s fascinating experiences in a cult make her this week’s guest blogger. I hope that you enjoy what she has to share with us and take the opportunity to ask her questions about whatever you’d like. Without further ado…

What’s the name of the cult you joined?
Trob (The Realization of Being)

How old were you when you joined?
19

Why did you join?
I was a freshman in college at University of Washington freaking out about what I was going to do with my life. I had made some questionable decisions and my romances had failed miserably. My sister was having issues of her own – my mother had taken her to a medical doctor and a shrink to no avail. I told her about the mother of my best friend who I had known since middle school and a strange school that she ran. I suggested she try that as a last resort. When I came home for the summer a month later, my sister was transformed. She was completely over the crisis, but more than that, she was happy. And she had never been happy her whole life. She was always kind of mopey. But now she was confident and friendly and I was sold immediately. I started the work and became a more focused student than my sister ever was; she would touch in from time to time after that.

What did the cult offer you that your life wasn’t giving you?
Meaning, purpose.

Did the cult fulfill its promises?
Yes, for a while.

How long were you in the cult and why did you leave?
I was there for 11 years, till I was 31. Then, the founder had a stroke and her right-hand woman – the president of the school – began to make accusations about the founder. There was a fight for power and it left me sick to my stomach. It was a positive thinking cult with a dash of scare-you-with-the-devil kind of stuff and she started to accuse the founder of being manipulative. Actually, evil. She told us that we had been a cult all along. This infuriated me. I had defended the school to everyone in my life for not being a cult. It took me a month to sneak out because I had so many responsibilities at the school, but when I finally did, a mass exodus occurred. I had been kind of the star of the school. I was going to make the school famous when I became famous – that’s what they told me and believed. I read cult recovery books that say that members rarely get out. People escape if one of three things happen: an authority figure dies or gets sick, there is a power struggle, and something else that I forgot because it didn’t pertain to me. I recognized the cult tactics on every page: public humiliation to break you, build you back up with their ideals. It’s kind of like building a robot. I think our cult was a mild version – we weren’t physically sequestered from society we were only encouraged to have relationships that didn’t interfere with the school. It was all hidden behind a veil of love and support. That’s how it was all done – with love.

Do you still feel that certain things are missing in your life that the cult claimed it would have given you?
It was a miserable failure. I have spent the last years repairing the rift with my family who, though they never threw me out of the family or anything like that, thought I would never leave the cult – ever. But I did find my music there. I’m not sure if I would’ve ever written a song if I wasn’t in the mindset of being free to live any dream I wanted. And the president worked tirelessly to make me a better performer and made me take risks that, while they were for the good of the cult only, I marvel at now. I wrote, produced and starred in the biggest fundraisers for the school – these improv musicals that we ran at 7 Stages, 14th street playhouse, the woodruff arts center. we would rent them out and run ads on the radio and in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and pack the house. So, I have a strange gratitude. My struggle with my work now is that everything I did back then was steeped in the teachings and now I struggle with what I believe in.

How many people were in the cult? Was it local, national?
It was based in Atlanta with international students – my sister is in Brazil until she quit several years before I did, there were a few Hong Kong students, French, people scattered across the States, but for the most part it was Atlanta. There were about 500 peripheral students, and 40 hardcore, of which I was one. It was a fast growing organization several years before I arrived – they were renting out the civic center for events with messages of positive thinking and had about 2000 students. Until the president/my best friend’s mom became a leader and introduced reasons why people were not getting what they want. The founder said “you are a precious adorable angel” and deserve to have whatever you want. The President introduced psychology with the Devil as to why people didn’t materialize things.

Did the cult had a particular leader? Was this person particularly charismatic?
They were the sweetest people I had ever met.

Did the cult have weird doctrines and teachings?
Pretty standard stuff for a cult – we approve if you follow us and you are evil if you disagree. The bulk of the work was all the positive thinking stuff that Oprah is covering lately. I guess you could call it the re-packaged brand of bullshit that all religion has been peddling since the beginning of time.

Were there any doctrines about end-times?
My best friend (who was also the resident reincarnation of Satan because she always spoke her mind) took the revelations class where they studied revelations in the new testament but she didn’t understand much and it caused her anxiety about dying.

Do you think that the people who began the cult did so out of conviction or to manipulate others?
Absolutely not. And I still feel that the founder is sweet and true. I think that either the president got drunk on her power over other people’s lives or she went crazy. or maybe she was crazy. She believes everything to this day and touts herself as a life coach on the internet, riding on other people’s success. One of her students – the Hong Kong one – made millions of dollars over the years so the president gets the credit.

Did you have to pay to be in the cult or give up anything like contact with friends and family?

You had to pay for privates (one on one sessions – the most coveted and expensive way to learn), the group classes. There was the 7 emotional attachments that you had to let go to be free and then you could move on to the advance classes when J or L got the word from God. We all could talk to God but we all trusted J and L more when they listened. And you were expected to tithe, of course. I bartered most of the time I was there – I helped out in the office. My duties as teacher (I taught the children and teen classes) and producer were volunteer.

Are you a religious person? How so?
I have never been a religious person. I was baptized Presbyterian because my Ma liked the idea of predestination. But my parents aren’t religious either (though my Ma is falling into a primitive Baptist cult now).

Do you believe in God?
I did while I was in the cult, very much so. Before and after that, not so much. It was comforting when I believed that he was there. But my belief evaporated. It materialized and evaporated almost on its own.

Are you a spiritual person? How so?
I have been searching since adolescence. I explored my Cherokee background and learned about the Native American way of life – my 2nd cousin is a medicine woman and named me. I got into new age stuff after that – crystals, tarot, drugs have been a spiritual journey for me.

What else can you share with us about the experience of being a cult?
When I got out of the cult I saw how much everything is a cult. Everything we choose to identify with shapes our thinking. This war seems absurd to me because it is just cults fighting cults. But I do know the power of faith and what lengths a person can be manipulated to – there is no limit. The most hope I see in the present is that the person who wrote the manifesto for Al Qaeda has renounced his belief that violence is the answer – literally the guy who wrote the book. I forget his name damnit. When I read that I knew that Al Qaeda’s time is limited. It will be destroyed from within; maybe that’s the only way.

What advice would you offer others about being in a cult?
Think for yourself.

What did you think about South Park‘s Super Best Friends episode?

The Super Best Friends episode was obviously a take on Scientology and the weird alien where everybody killed themselves. But, surprisingly close in the premise at the beginning – tell people they’re unhappy (not really hard to convince them in the first place) and then don’t let them leave without talking for it so long
that they get tired of arguing and decide to stay.
Of the super best friends – the mormon dude? Really? He’s a cult leader, or at least I always thought so. In that case, David Blaine will soon join the superprophets. The joke they made about Buddha not believing in
evil – funny, and true. I most identify with Buddhism after leaving the cult because they don’t really believe in God either. It’s kind of like 6 of this, half dozen of the other – so ambiguous that it can never be wrong.

Status Report: t-minus 47 hours

As many of you know, either because I’ve mentioned it in off-blog correspondence or because you’ve read my About the Author section on the official website, I’m moving to San Francisco. That moment is fast approaching. On Monday morning, June 23rd, my flight leaves from Atlanta at 9:30. That gives me 47 remaining hours to see friends and family, pack up my home, and leave nothing but cleanliness and fine smells behind me.

Fortunately for this process I’ve begun packing, but it’s not the most exhilarating or fast-paced high-thrill ride ever. Though it’s close.

Once I arrive in San Francisco, I will be searching, along with Eszter of course, who is meeting me at the airport that morning when her flight arrives from Hungary, for an apartment. This, I understand, is not an easy process, and if it’s anything like when I had to search for an apartment in Jerusalem it will be a living hell. I don’t expect that, though. I expect it to be fun and enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to it.

What I’m not looking forward to is the possibility of this blog becoming disrupted by this process, but alas, I fear there may be little that can be done. I will do my best to post consistently throughout this coming week. Monday especially since Tifany, an ex-cult member, will be answering some questions for us. However, should I fail once or twice, I beg you not to line me up against the wall in firing squad manner and execute me (a metonymy for my blog). I assure you that posts and themes will resume as normal as soon as I can get into an apartment. Then, of course, I will be frantically trying to set this apartment up as best as possible, but hopefully by then everything will be under control.

Just like this blog, working on The Zen of South Park will also be on hold for a short while, but I do hope to resume both soon, because the book is coming along very well and I’m almost through editing the final chapters. When I do post over the course of the next week, I will provide status updates on the apartment search and San Francisco, including any problems we may be having. If you have recommendations or advice I look forward to hearing it.

So, hope to see you here soon and thanks for reading.