ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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Osama out of hiding and into South Park
By Joel Brown
||Osama bin Laden is set to battle the boys of South Park on the show's season premier later this month.
The show wanted to begin its fifth season Dec. 28 with a bang, while raising many eyebrows in the process. The show sends characters Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman to Afghanistan to fight for the American cause, according to The Comedy Network's spokesman Scott Henderson, whose station airs the show in Canada.
In the episode, Henderson says South Park citizens will tackle the challenges the world now faces threats of hijacking, bio-terrorism and, of course, Afghani goats.
In response to President Bush's plea to American children, which urged them to raise a dollar for Afghani children, the quartet take it upon themselves to deliver their money directly by mail to their peers overseas, Henderson said.
What they receive back from the Afghani children leads to personnel from every U.S. government agency descending on South Park to investigate, Henderson said.
The boys then go to Afghanistan where they are captured by the Taliban and have to pretend they are Canadian to escape, Henderson added.
In the end, Cartman will battle bin Laden to expose the terrorist's motives.
"We haven't had any complaints so far and don't anticipate having many," Henderson said. "Most people are excited."
Henderson said since the attacks of Sept. 11, TCN has taken extra-precautions to ensure programming is sensitive to viewers, including the formation of a committee to screen all content relating to the events.
South Park passed the test and TCN is confident it won't alienate the station's audience.
"What you find funny and what the guy sitting beside you finds funny are completely two different things," Henderson said. "We've viewed the episode and believe it doesn't constitute something that needs to be cut. It's funny is what it is."
Western media, information and technoculture professor Tim Blackmore said he was not at all surprised by the news of the episode.
"They are the bad boys, they've got to keep that going," he said. "They're expecting to get attention it'll just drive up their ratings."
Blackmore said he believes this type of humour the show will be easier for audiences to swallow now, as opposed to the time just after the attacks, since there is a sense of "apparent victory" among many in our society.
Media educational specialist Cathy Wing of the Media Awareness Network said she was not concerned with the show's expected content.
"That's perfect fodder for them," she said. "They're poking fun at the type of topic that the audience of the show young, adolescent males is attracted to."
with files from