Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder with Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. Lambasts Hollywood as This Summer’s Sensational Satire

Few movies have started this awesome – with so much spunk, cursing and hilariousness. The opening minute is just ridiculous. Though I can’t say the movie maintains this level of absurdity through the duration, there are numerous great scenes and funny lines. At the very least, it’s entirely ridiculous.

This seems to have been the brainchild of Ben Stiller, who really did do an excellent job, but I can’t say that anyone wasn’t great, including Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. I’m not going to tell you all of the cameos and other funny people that appeared because catching them all is half the fun.

A large point of the movie was to lambast Hollywood for its celebrity idiocy, absurdity and general way of doing things, from the rich Jewish moguls at the top, to the insecure big name actors and the idealistic new actors – and every level of fake, pretentious, nonsensical bullshit in between and around them all. In that respect, the movie gets an A+. What a great job it did, really taking its mockery to the next level.

Without taking away from certain jokes, cameos and lines, there’s not too much more I feel I can say, other than to let you know if this will be for you. It is vulgar, very rated R for language and grossness (though much of the blood and guts is meant to look fake to emphasize the Hollywoodness of it), and filled with cultural jokes, movie trivia/history and stupid people to laugh at. If these things aren’t up your alley – particularly satire as an artform – then this movie is definitely not for you. If you enjoy any of those things, especially when they’re executed in wonderful ways that keep a smile on your face for over 50% of the time you’re in the movie, then I’d check this out.

I award it a solid 8 Chocolate Salty Balls. A great end-of-summer movie. Get your own copy: Tropic Thunder.

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Religion (or cults) in the News: Anonymous Takes on Scientology in Global Protest

South Park hates Scientology. I hate Scientology. As we are told, “It’s a big, fat, global scam.” Scientology is not a religion, despite the insanely shady way that it acquired tax-exempt status. It’s a cult that takes as much money as possible from its adherents. Episodes 912 and 1001 detail these issues and flesh them out in amazing ways; episode 504, Super Best Friends, is also about the fight against Scientology.

Apparently, South Park and I aren’t the only ones that think Scientology is an uncontrollable oozing of bullshit topped with a dollop of evil. An online group known as Anonymous, whose website can be found HERE, has decided to take on the cult with protests and online bashing. They wear masks and dress in costumes and never use their real names.

Normally, I would consider these tactics cowardly. However, considering the tactics of Scientology, which include harassment, reckless endangerment, stalking and other unsavory techniques, I don’t blame the group at all. As they say, if you have no identity then Scientology’s own tactics become useless.

Other opponents of Scientology include defectors of the religion – a rare breed – who now feel increasingly comfortable coming forward with the support of Anonymous and a man named Tommy Gorman, a former Scientologist whose wife was repeatedly raped by an old man in the cult who threatened her life if she came forward. Together, Gorman, his wife and Anonymous (whose tactics don’t always mesh since Gorman prefers Scientology’s more blatant harassment to casual protest) are trying to take down Scientology.

They want members to think about their beliefs and research their organization more thoroughly to learn about its dark past and horrible present. Today just so happens to be a global protest staged by Anonymous against Scientology and though I can’t be there to help, I’d just like to tell them good luck.

Click HERE to read about 912, HERE to read about 1001 and HERE to read about the death of Isaac Hayes, Scientologist and voice of Chef.

Isaac Hayes, Who Voiced the South Park Character, Chef, Dies at Age 65

In 1997, Isaac Hayes become the voice of Chef, the large, sexed-up, black cafeteria chef at South Park Elementary, who was the only adult that Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman could consistently trust. He was wonderful, lovable, and in classic Isaac Hayes fashion, broke into song all the time. No South Park viewer could but love Chef, and appreciate Hayes’ wonderful contribution to this timeless and fantastic show about American culture.

Unfortunately, Chef was not a part of South Park to the end of his life, as his character was killed in the first episode of the tenth season, titled “The Return of Chef” (1001). It was, to be sure, a controversial move, but nothing other than controversy surrounded his departure from the show.

At the end of the 9th season South Park did an episode about Scientology, lambasting the religion thoroughly and making it and some of its celebrity members, namely Tom Cruise, look rather stupid. Isaac Hayes took issues with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s portrayal of his religion – yes, Hayes was a Scientologist – insisting that they just didn’t understand. Moreover, he told them that it wasn’t right to make fun of his religion that way, though they noted that he had no trouble making fun of nearly everyone else’s religions in other episodes.

Hayes left during the season break and later, Parker and Stone received a letter that he was resigning permanently. Mystery surrounds this letter because it is unclear who wrote it. It is believed that Hayes was in a coma when the letter was sent, suggesting that he had no hand in it at all. Others contend that he was coerced into writing the letter, and of course there is always the possibility that he wrote it himself. If this last option, it is unlikely that he was not goaded by fellow Scientologists to do so.

This situation soured me towards Isaac Hayes because I found his character on the show to be incredibly important – and also quite funny. Nonetheless, what happened happened and in a spectacular episode about Chef’s leaving South Park for a fruity little club (a metaphor for Scientology), the character was killed off and Isaac Hayes never returned to South Park again.

Now, he’s dead for real. I hope that the final 2 years of his life were fulfilling and enjoyable. I’m sorry that he departed from South Park on such an unfortunate note. Perhaps, considering my thoughts, I should try to bear Kyle’s eulogy in mind from Chef’s funeral at the end of the episode:

“We’re all here today because Chef has been such an important part of our lives. A lot of us don’t agree with the choices Chef has made in the past few days. Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can’t let the events of the last week take away the memories of how much Chef made us smile. I’m gonna remember Chef as the jolly old guy who always broke into song. I’m gonna remember Chef as the guy who gave us advice to live by. So you see, we shouldn’t be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that little fruity club for scrambling his brains. And in the end, I know that somewhere out there, there’s the good part of Chef that’s still alive in us all.”

Here’s to you Isaac Hayes.

On a similarly unfortunate note, Bernie Mac has also died at the age of 50.

What was your favorite Chef moment? What will you remember Isaac Hayes for?

To read about the group Anonymous and their global protest against Scientology, click HERE.

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“Trapped in the Closet,” is South Park’s Big Shot at Scientology

Episode 912 is infamous. In fact, it couldn’t even be aired in the U.K. because of its content. It’s also the episode that resulted in Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, quitting the show.

The episode itself lampoons Scientology by knocking its methodology, allegedly scientific basis, and status as a big, fat, global scam. It also lambasts the various celebrities that the so-called religion claims as a foundation for its legitimacy, including Tom Cruise (whose alleged homosexual proclivities give the episode its title and caused him to flip his shit just around the release of Mission Impossible 3 – which for the record was a bad-ass movie), and John Travolta.

I entirely agree with South Park‘s sentiments about this wretched attempt at a religion, and appreciate that Parker and Stone stepped into Scientology’s own line of fire when they made this episode. In The Zen of South Park I compare the show’s portrayal of Mormonism and Scientology in order to show how two religions that are totally invented (and in quite an obvious way) are not evaluated similarly.

Are you a Scientologist? Do I have it all wrong? Would you like to come on my blog and do a guest interview?

What do you think of Scientology? Do you know any Scientologists? Have you ever known anyone who converted to Scientology? Did that person change into someone you don’t know any more?

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