The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone

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On August 5, we started a countdown that will give credit -- or blame -- to the people who have contributed most to the sad current state of Scientology. From its greatest expansion in the 1980s, the church is a shell of what it once was and is mired in countless controversies around the world. Some of that was self-inflicted, and some of it has come from outside. Join us now as we continue on our investigation of those people most responsible...


The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology

#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)


ParkerStone.jpg
Stone (left) and Parker
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone did not begin skewering Scientology with their infamous 2005 episode, "Trapped in the Closet."

Five years earlier, they were asked to contribute a short South Park bit for the MTV Movie Awards, and riffed not only on that year's big blockbuster, Gladiator, but also 2000's most epic fail -- and what certainly continues to be one of the worst movies of all time -- Battlefield Earth, John Travolta's misguided attempt to actually film some of L. Ron Hubbard's bad science fiction. In the short piece, Travolta's "Terl" kills Russell Crowe, and Cartman wipes his ass with a Scientology personality test...

But of course, it's the Season 9 "Trapped in the Closet" episode which remains the supreme comedic takedown of Scientology, probably of all time.

In the episode, Stan is looking for some inexpensive fun, and is enticed to take a free personality test at the local Scientology center. The test is nicely parodied as Stan learns, to his astonishment, that he's depressed and in really bad shape. (He was not aware of this.) He hits his parents up for $240 so he can give it to the Scientologists to cure the depression he didn't know he had. They hook him up to an e-meter, and are stunned to find that he measures "OT IX"! Only one other person in Scientology history had ever rated that high, and that was L. Ron Hubbard himself. Stan, they realize, must be L. Ron's reincarnated self!

Now, up to this point, the episode has been pretty fun, and it's playing fast and loose with Scientology -- which you would expect of a South Park episode. But then, Parker and Stone did something brilliant. They stopped kidding.

The Scientology "president" (who unfortunately is not recognizably a parody of church leader David Miscavige) decides it's time to tell Stan Scientology's big secret.

Then, what unfolds is a beautiful rendition of OT III, the actual Xenu tale -- complete with alien souls being indoctrinated in the "R6 implant" -- and it's a pleasure to see it so well illustrated. Especially Xenu himself, who looks like this...

XenuScreenshot.jpg

And as you can see from that screenshot, the title that Parker and Stone put up throughout the Xenu segment -- "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE" -- really shifts this episode from farce to political satire. This IS what high-level Scientologists are asked to accept, after several years of membership and several hundred thousand dollars in fees: that disembodied, indoctrinated alien souls are attached to us after they were brought here 75 million years ago by a galactic overlord named Xenu, and only Hubbard's techniques of "auditing" can remove them from you so that your superhuman potential can be unleashed.

There's something about putting the OT III story in a cartoon that makes it even more stark-raving mad than simple words can convey.

Coming the same year that Tom Cruise went loopy and gave the mainstream press less qualms about mentioning Scientology, South Park's mocking of the church and its beliefs brought Scientology to a level of uncoolness that it really hasn't shaken since then.

Parker and Stone weren't the only media figures taking shots at the church and helping to spread the word that it was an odd organization. As Marc Headley relates in his book Blown For Good, hearing jokes about Scientology on the radio made him curious about criticisms of the church and put him on the track to questioning everything about his life working under harsh conditions at the secretive desert headquarters, Gold Base. He also credits Conan O'Brien making fun of the church as a big influence. And maybe sometimes we forget just how powerful a simple joke can be. So here are other media figures who have made sure their audiences know just how odd Scientology is.


Conan O'Brien gives Scientology the opportunity to state its case on his show:


Stephen Colbert announces in March, 2009, that he has replaced Xenu as the new galactic overlord:


Howard Stern has long ridiculed Scientology. Here's a clip from back when Tom Cruise was running rampant, in 2005:


And Bill Maher wonders about the balls it takes to tell another human being, with certainty, what happened 12 trillion years ago. Heh.

I know that the Internet, as well as specific defectors and critics, is often credited for the morass that Scientology is in today. But it's also important to remember that well-liked, intelligent comedians and cartoonists can spread more awareness with a one-liner than most of the rest of us can with gigabytes of data and debate.



The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]


My Voice Nation Help
78 comments
n00w
n00w

Not quite as recent, but the series Nip Tuck has proudly fired a few shots at scientology a couple of years ago. The characters Matt and Kimber are so pathetically confused, and even Kimber quotes Xenu in episode 14 of season 4. The series show that only losers are believing in scientology.

Mimi The Great
Mimi The Great

Ill never forget seeing Kathy Griffin live and being the only one in the Indiana audience who understood her Scientology but. It was hysterical!

Robert
Robert

let's not forget dana carvey saying on his special that 'body thetans get inside your body when you shampoo your hair'!

DDB9000
DDB9000

First off, many thanks to Tony Ortega for all his articles on the evil scam that is Scientology.And thanks for mentioning that wonderful South Park episode - indeed the best part is the "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE" segment. The episode should be run on every network as a public service announcement...

Meanwhile, where I work (I don't want to say where), we regularly get copies of L. Ron Hubbard and other Scientology books, which we mark return to sender and send back. However, when we get DVDs, I open the package and discard the covers, discs, and booklets so to have a few spare DVD cases (actually I tear up the covers and booklets and break the DVDs in half, just in case).

What's interesting about the DVDs is that the booklets (almost a book as they're so big) are glued in really tight to (seemingly) make it hard to get them out. Obviously they know people like me will do that - still, I am NOT deterred. Thanks for the free DVD cases, scientologists!

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

It appears that the "South Park" website has been hacked—I have not been able to access the cited episode, instead getting a rather convoluted message regarding re-direction from other websites.

Most Scientologists are not aware of this, but Scientology is pure, concentrated evil.

robert
robert

Gee, where has OSA fled to over the last three spots?They haven't shown up since Jamie DeWolf. 

Too much entheta for them, even?

Old OT7
Old OT7

Great choice!  Completely slipped my mind.  Tom Cruise used his Hollywood muscle stop that episode from airing again.  South Park has only been shut down twice:  Once from radical Muslims that actually threatened physical violence for depicting Mohammad in a bear costume and the cult of scientology.  

Andie
Andie

To be fair,humor has always been Scientology’s weak side. Hubbard soon realized the dangerridicule would have on his “science”. One of the things Scientology do to youis removing your ability to laugh at yourself. This renders them very vulnerableto humor.

Anon
Anon

We're only at 20/25 and already Tony has quite the herd of wwp femanon groupies goin on! Oh my, the delayed satisfaction.

Post this if you dare Tony.

XenuBodyThetan
XenuBodyThetan

For sure, comedians and Hollywood TV scriptwriters HAVE stayed no top of the Xenu show in Scientology, Hubbard's science fiction subject is  just too good of a source of humor to pass up.   Ex members have long wanted Hollywood to put Xenu in TV shows, and it has now   happened.   So thank you Hollywood and thank you print and TV media and comedians!   The entertainment industry and society's newsmedia, for taking on Hubbard's Scientology actual beliefs, when scholars were NOT taking it on, us ex members have to give you a BIG thankyou!   And thanks to the anons who put the Hubbard Class 8 lecture that proves beyond any doubt that Xenu is Hubbard's own story, anons put the Hubbard lecture snippets telling the Xenu story on YouTube as an all time public service.  And thanks to the ex members with the balls back in the 1990s leaking the Xenu story on the internet.   It all adds up to unraveling Hubbard's little closed world totalitarian setup.  

Patty Moher
Patty Moher

As a full time Merchant of Chaos and Pawn of Psychiatry, I would like to thank you for another fun loving article on my favorite crazy cult.

sharkattacksteve
sharkattacksteve

Mr Ortega as a Chanology YouTube denizen for the last 3 years I would like to recommend for the list the infamous Scientology troll " vaLLarrr" who has been insanely defending CofS against all comers 24/7/365 for the last 3 yrs also.

vaLLarrr has perhaps turned off as many people to the CofS as the "Tom Cruise Scientology" vid through it's aggressive batshit crazy defense of all things Scientology.

Plus vaLLarrr has it's own article on Encyclopedia Dramatica !

mjm
mjm

Self Magazine's September cover girl is Kelly Preston who says that Scientology got her through her son Jett's death. umm, you bribed the Bahamian courts to cover up his death, you murderer. poor John, he's stuck with this psycho who's in cahoots with Misscavige and dangles his PC folders when he's contemplating leaving (hell, he almost ran out after Jett was murdered). Better yet, she should've stayed with Charlie Sheen, two loony matches made in heaven.

BLiP
BLiP

Another worthy mention might be Rocky Gervais who stood up in one of the temples of Hollywood - the 2011 Golden Globes Awards - and took a pot shot at the cult.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Noah
Noah

I can see why they'd make the list. I first found out about Scientology and their bullshit thanks to that South Park episode. 

Arielle
Arielle

Coincidentally,today the Sydney Morning Herald reported  that the "complete 14th season" of South Park on DVD published in Australia does not contain the Trapped in the Closet episode.  Apparently the local distributor Paramount Home Entertainment decided to exclude it, along with an episode on prophet Mohamed. A totally bewildering step, given the fact that Scientology or Islam adherents are not very likely to purchase the South Park DVD box in the first place.

Marta
Marta

"But it's also important to remember that well-liked, intelligent comedians and cartoonists can spread more awareness with a one-liner than most of the rest of us can with gigabytes of data and debate."

Very nicely said, Tony, and thanks for the comedy review.

TBone
TBone

Thanks Tony, for another fabulous article! Some of these I have never seen before. It's great to have a place to come to (or refer friends to), to see these wonderfully hysterical sketches.

I especially chuckle when I think of the demented dwarf reading this article and RELIVING the massive ridicule & derision that each joke brought!

Just think, each time these jokes are repeated on the net, thousands of innocent, unsuspecting kids are inoculated against the cult. Very soon, there will be no "raw meat" left, ......

MarkStark
MarkStark

My favorite comedy sketch, is comedian "Waco" as Tom Cruise on YouTube, from "The Damnshow" doing his  spoof of the Tom Cruise video:

"A lot of people don't know that L. Ron Hubbard saved his toenail clippings, until the day he died, and now I'm saving 'em."  (As he pulls out the bag and breathes into it.)

"Did you ever think, you know, if I could just fk this spider. If I could just fk 'em."

He really captured the mixture of drooling L. Ron adulation, combined with schizophrenic detachment that Scilons often exhibit.

I too was impressed with Marc Headley being jolted into reality by comics and talk-show people's perception of Sciloontology. Scilons are trained to believe that everyone is curious and "starving" for their BS, when in reality, it is a con that works on less than 1% of the population.

subgenius
subgenius

"And maybe sometimes we forget just how powerful a simple joke can be." "Humor is the one thing cults can't stand."---Enturbulator 009 aka El Queso All-Stars, from the rockin' album (free to download, google it) "$cientology Sucks, which was created in response to being fair-gamed long before Project Chanology 

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

They have a cozy little tree house over at *Soda Head. 

They've set up sock puppets there that they write to, reply to, and they're the socks that post questions and the answers to the questions. There's a lot of ".....I'm not a scientologist, but..." postings, all done by these O$A bots. They block outsiders from coming in to comment and of course, they believe that they are making a lot of headway with that "clearing the planet" routine.

Someone at Why We Protest recently posted that it "...was like listening to a broken record of retarded children eating crayons..." I agreed with that.

* Probably the dumbest nest of $cilon moonbats on the whole Intertubes, (imho).

Old OT7
Old OT7

I noticed that too.  But they never made any headway posting here.  With all of us making fun of them on a daily basis, they were probably told to hold off.

robert
robert

Maybe Jamie scared them off.  Truth about Source FTW!

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

Might be fun to see Cruise in a bear costume, circling a couch and muslims, bouncing on the couch, in the same shot. 

Throw in a few retarded thugs, from outer space, wandering around in a daze, and voila! It's a hit!

mjm
mjm

the "Trapped in the Closet" episode has reran again. saw it around Feb./Mar. of this year during a Comedy Central South Park marathon. possibly the show's finest hour.

Old OT7
Old OT7

Humor is not allowed within the cult.  Hubbard came out with a policy called "Jokers and Degraders."  You cannot even mildly joke about this cult.  And, puns were forbidden!  I tried once, when  I was still in, to light the atmosphere with ten puns. But, alas, no pun in 10 did.

I know, but I still had to do it!

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

Excellent set of  targets for Big "KUDOS," XenuBodyThetan!

Very well put forward, and I'm certain these are not lost on Tony's sharp reading eyes. 

The more we and all those people you've mentioned keep ratcheting up the ridicule, the faster the vile cult caves in. It's a "force of nature."

Bravo!

Anon A
Anon A

Ah, yes - good old vaLLarrr.  I've been waging comment wars with vaL for a while now under my YouTube account name, yet vaL lacks the relevance to really count for much in the real world, especially in comparison with such high-profile foot-shooting Scn apologists like Tommy Davis.Although I'll bet even Tommy wouldn't type out "rollseyes" as much as vaLLarrr does.

candace6
candace6

Too few people see Val's insane, incoherant ramblings, shark.  If s/he had a larger audience I would agree with you.  Maybe Scientology internet  "handlers" in general should have a spot though.

mjm
mjm

National Enquirer's new front cover says that the Travoltas have separated. with their track record being pretty good, i'm thankful that the truth has finally come to light.

DMSTCC - wog
DMSTCC - wog

Could be interesting to read why others are here posting. Perhaps slap a label of (wog, Ex, Indie, Anon, FZ, still trapped, troll, etc.) on the post? Just a thought...

DMSTCC
DMSTCC

I saw Tom Cruise pop couch springs, but didn't know he was Co$. I saw S.P. and thought - WTF? But, when I discovered video sites in '07 I stumbled on a Mary DeMoss vid that blew my mind. Since then, I can't get enough.

candace6
candace6

Me too.  I never really paid any attention to Scientology before they tried to stop the re-broadast of 'Trapped in the Closet'. I started doing a little research and the more I learned the more horrified I became.  I know others who became critics because of South Park as well.  The cult has always created its own enemies.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

I think it's another episode that contains a Tom Cruise story line that didn't make the DVD. And so the Herald also brought up Trapped in the Closet, which was the 9th season.

XenuBodyThetan
XenuBodyThetan

My favorite sketch is the Spike TV sketch by Andy Dick, the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Wedding Planner sketch.  

CofS Exit Zone
CofS Exit Zone

naaa...  professor hugh urban's book on the history of the scientology religion has now begun shipping from princeton press. OSA probably has all hands on deck re-tooling the janet reitman script of childish retaliation and empty denials for a new more urgent target.

TheGuest
TheGuest

Ever hear old timers talking about "when scientology was fun"?  Humor was banned:HCOB of 5 February 1977 C/S Series 100,"Jokers and Degraders".All the stories above of how scientology made things worse by their childish retaliations fit the story of why No Joking!  came about.   Cartoonist (does that count as comedian?) Jim Berry published a cartoon.  Two guys, one in a suit, the other with an afro, a pile of cash on the table.  Suit guy sez:  “I was into EST, Primal Therapy, Yoga, Scientology, Hare Krishna, Transcendental Meditation -- NOW I’m into money!”So (naturally) Hubbard had to order the GO (Guardians Office) to destroy Jim's career!  The story of  "Operation Funny Bone" April 26, 1977 is funny in a Keystone cop way.But the best, the very best outcome?   So many keystone cops were taken off their Current Operation that had been Top Priority for several years that some other for-real cop types (FBI)  found an opening they'd been waiting for.   That "current operation"?    Operation Snow White.You just can't make this stuff up.

redpill
redpill

I'm going to have to agree with SharkAttackSteve's nomination. Vallarrr may not grab large quantities of attention at once, but his/her amazing persistence has warned many, many people over the years.

robert
robert

Are you sure that is a new article? I'm not seeing anything on that.  There was an article in Jan about him going off to party with pals that says "travolta leaves wife and baby"(for the weekend).

robert
robert

Well they are almost inherently predictable, which is good.  But they have to rank high somewhere on the scale, as they are the foot bulleting foot soldiers of a failing faith. 

TheGuest
TheGuest

When OSA's plans become predictable, OSA becomes irrelevant.  lol

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

@d25b0ab673fbb7872ed536dc2a16429a:disqus " I never really knew why puns were off limits."Is it possible that the "short circuit" aspects of the English Language are exposed by puns, revealing it to be a mere system of representation, rather than THE vehicle of THE TRUTH???

Good thing I never joined the cult. I would have lasted a very few short hours. I would have asked the auditor:

"Hey did you know that *Sadistic Neon Cat Yodeling* is an anagram for dianetics and scientology? How about *Neat Sadistic Yodeling Con* ? What? You don't know what an anagram is? Phhhhtttt...!!! I'm outa here!"

Old OT7
Old OT7

Hey, TheGuest, do you remember the ban on puns?  Do you how that happened!  I guess for fun, SO members would tell puns to each other.  I never really knew why puns were off limits.

When I was still in, another scientologist and I were watching "Airplane" in a theater.  When Lloyd Bridges was  walking through an airport and being accosted by all these cult, one of them was scientology.  At the time I thought it was funny but the other clam had a meltdown!  I was later written up for laughing at that scene.

mjm
mjm

it's the new issue out today or Fri.

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