Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Say it ain't so, Chef

How could he? How could Isaac Hayes, who for so long provided the sultry voice of South Park's Chef, leave the show?

Is he sick? Is he mad?

Actually, he's both. He's a Scientologist.

Things were going great until Hayes got his nose out of joint over a recent episode that skewered Scientology. In Trapped in the Closet, 8-year-old Stan gets duped into joining Scientology, whose followers become convinced he's the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard. Tom Cruise is also featured in the episode, although he spends most of it hiding in the closet of Stan's room and refusing to come out.

It's not the first time South Park has made fun of religion. Other noteworthy episodes include Jewbilee, Are You There God, It's Me Jesus, Red Hot Catholic Love, All About Mormons?, The Passion of the Jew and Woodland Critter Christmas. (The last one is only funny if you're amused by depictions of baby mountain lions learning to do abortions so they can prevent the birth of the anti-Christ.)

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. South Park also makes fun of liberals, conservatives, Hollywood, Terry Schiavo, hate crimes, pre- and post-op transexuals, gays, handicapped kids, retarded children, starving Africans, AIDS, terrorists, televangelists, hippies, rednecks and Wal-Mart. It's Take-No-Prisoners T.V. and that's why so many people - including me - watch it.

Chef has been a big part of it, dispensing advise to the kids he collectively addressed as "children," and wowing the ladies with smooth lines and songs about his chocolate salty balls.

And now, after nine seasons of raunchy episodes, he's taking his salty balls and going home. I'm devastated, for I love Chef. But I'm totally disgusted with Isaac Hayes. I could go on and on about it, but I think South Park creator Matt Stone summed it up best.

"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology," said Stone.
"He has no problem -- and he's cashed plenty of checks -- with our show
fun of Christians... We never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way
until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than
his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

So be that way, Chef. Forget the fact that people were already laughing at Scientology before this episode even aired. Forget the fact that having Tom Cruise as the public face of a religion is equivalent to hanging a "Kick Me" sign on the church door. Forget that if L. Ron Hubbard's books had been any good he would have never even had to become a cult leader. Forget all that and blame the show that made you an icon to a generation that's never heard of "Shaft."

Hopefully you'll regret what you've done and realize that you should have stayed, if not for us then for the children.


tc said...

Tread carefully here, Morgan. The CoS has been known to use web-search engines to look for references in blogs, similar to what VD does. They also have an army of lawyers at their beck and call.

There's some very interesting connections between Heinlein, LRH, a rocket scientist named Jack Parsons (outlined in the books Strange Angel and Sex and Rockets) and Parson's mentor, Aleister Crowley.

Some people believe that Heinlein suggested the formation of a Church when LRH complained about having no money. kitten once asked Virginia about this, but VH said that Heinlein and L went off together from the supper table and she had no idea what they talked about that night.

Parsons was a rather strange polyamorist, Ceremonial Magician of the Golden Dawn type and the father of the American Space Program. LRH pretty much stole his wife.

See the wiki article:


And Aleistar is just too weird for me to comment on effectively. I would suggest doing a google on him.

Very strange days indeed.


Taylor said...

I've never seen the show. But, it does appear like Mr. Hayes' sense of humor ends with Scientology and for that matter, his sense altogether.

Why end this 'Chef' character? Can't they just find another black man for the role?

tc said...

It wouldn't be the same, Taylor. Chef is such a fixture of South Park that it would be lowering the show to substitute another voice actor.

I'll miss him.


Morgan said...

In the words of Stan Marsh to the Church of Scientology, "So sue me." I've stated nothing that's not my own opinion and I'm fundamentally opposed to "religions" that charge an entrance fee.

I don't care if someone cracks the DiVinci code and proves that L. Ron Hubbard is a direct descendent of Christ; I'll still think any church that seeks to silence people who disagree with its teachings or heavy-handed tactics is operating more like the mafia than a religion.

That said, I have no problem people following any religion they want. But Isaac Hayes' glaring hypocrisy in this matter is no better a reflection on Scientology than Tom Cruise jumping around Oprah's set like a deranged lunatic.

And while I know you're a fan of Heinlen and I may become one, I'll never become so big a devotee that it will restrain my opinion of something I know is ridiculous. If it does I'll be terribly disappointed in myself. Or will I know, having become so blind?

Morgan said...

Taylor, dear, if you could just hear Chef's voice you would know that not just any black man would do. They don't all sound alike, just as they don't all look alike. :-)

Isaac Haye's voice was perfect for Chef. And Chef was even funnier because you always knew it was Isaac Hayes doing his voice. It's hard to explain.

I'm so going to miss him. Damn that L. Ron Hubbard.

Oh crap, now I'm going to have to hire a lawyer.

tc said...

Oh, no, I don't want to give the impression that Heinlein was a member of the church. I wanted to mention that he was rumored to have suggested it in order for L to make money.

Knowing his sense of humor, he may have done it as a joke, similar to me and PJ inventing the term "Politically Correct" as a joke back in '70.


Morgan said...

Well, I hope wherever Heinlen is, he realizes his "joke" had the unfortunate ramification of denying Chef fans the sound of his sultry voice saying things like:

"You've got to hold the football like you would hold your lover. Gently, yet firmly. You wanna be both nurturing and clinging at the same time. Oh, yes. Just like making sweet love to the football. Be naughty with the football. Mmmm, spank it. Ever so gently. Spank it. Oh, uh, sorry, children."

Oh God, I told myself I was going to be strong but I think I'm going to start crying again.

Taylor said...

I did not say any other black man, Morgan. It just seemed that if this character is such a fixture, that they could continue with it. There are many talented, well-known black men who might make the cut as a substitute. I would think that an animated character is much more defined by the dialogue than any the voice behind it.

They could write it into the story line. Chef goes in for liposuction surgery and by mistake they instead remove his voicebox and he has to speak through one of those devices you've seen. Make fun of the medical field and people with holes in their throats. Sounds like something they've missed...

Taylor said...

I realize it wouldn't be the same, though. But the character would still be around - better than nothing. I can't imagine the Simpsons' Homer with any other voice.

tc said...

Taylor, I am curious, though. Why would you figure it would have to be a black man? This *is* voice acting after all.

That would be like saying that someone dubbing in English in an anime film would have to be necessarily Japanese. Silly concept.

Not that *anyone* would be a substitute for Isaac Hayes. I agree wholeheartedly with Morgan. Chef should just get eaten by turkeys or something and end up in hell with Ghandi, Saddam, Kenny and Satan--maybe go hand-gliding or hook up with some fiiiiine demonesses. "When a man....sees a woman....."

Write him out.


Taylor said...

The animated character is black by Morgan's posted pic. Black character goes with black voice. One can easily make the distinction just by listening. Can you not tell when you are hearing a black man's voice? My ear can.

Morgan said...

Oh, they will write him out, I'd be willing to guarantee it. And knowing Parker and Stone it will be done in a very creative and cutting way.

Tom, as an aside, remember that in the movie, George and Gracie Burns were also in Hell. And, yes, it would be a fitting end to have Chef eaten by the wild turkeys he once stood down Braveheart style.

I dunno, Taylor. Part of what makes Chef Chef *is* the voice. He's a simple cafeteria cook, but he's also a sex machine capable of hours and hours of sweet, sweet lovin'. Only Isaac Hayes' voice will do.


Taylor said...

Another reason is that Morgan said part of Chef's appeal was knowing it was Isaac Hayes' voice behind the character. To maintain that same real life appeal I would think it would have to be another well-known black man. There's nothing silly about it, Tom.

Morgan said...

Taylor, I'm not saying that you can't tell a black person's voice. I'm saying black folks' voices aren't interchangeable, just as all white person's voices are interchangeable.

Per example, would you rather listen to an album by Sarah McLachlan or Roseann Barr? I mean, they're both white women so what's the difference?

No one - white or black - can match Isaac Hayes. If all black men sounded like him I'd hire one to be by my bedside when I wake up just to hear him say, "Good mornin', baby."

Taylor said...

Where did I say voices were interchangeable? That's why I mentioned Homer. Whatever the race, sex, age, everyone has a distinct voice. I, personally, am turned off by men with wimpy voices. I like a deep, full voice in a man, so can understand how you feel about Isaac Hayes' voice. I mean, can you imagine waking up to Michael Jackson's voice?

Morgan said...

"I mean, can you imagine waking up to Michael Jackson's voice?"

Aaaagghhhh!! It burns! It burns!

"Where did I say voices were interchangeable?"

Point taken. I just cannot even think of a man who could take Hayes' place as Chef.

tc said...

You guys old enough to remember Marvin Gaye? There's a man with an amazing voice. I still miss him.


Morgan said...

Oh yes. I remember Marvin Gaye.

"When I get that feeling/I need sexual healing...Darlin' you're so great/I cant' wait until you operate..."

I actually thought of him when I was trying to think of someone close to Isaac Hayes. Yes, Marvin Gaye had a sexy voice, but it wouldn't have been deep enough to do Chef.

Taylor said...

There's Lou Rawls and Barry White. I had a friend who always liked to play Lou Rawls as background music when entertaining the ladies. I know Barry White from the Simpsons - they've featured him before. I think he had a notable voice as well. He's gone now, isn't he?

Morgan said...

Oooooh. Barry White!!!! He could be Chef! He's not a Scientologist, is he?

Jamie said...

Hey, I just blogged about this, saw it as my opportunity to rip on Scientology.

And Barry White's dead.

Morgan said...

"And Barry White's dead. "

In the words of Eric Cartman, "SONOFABITCH!! *sigh* I hate you Kenny."

Darn. Now who's going to do Chef's voice.

As for Scientology,I generally have a live and let live attitude towards religion but Scientology has robbed me of my favorite South Park character and that simply cannot stand. So rip away, Sport.

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Jamie said...

Reckon the douchebag above me is a scientologist?

tc said...

Nah, just a dumbass.


Morgan said...

I hate Spamotologists.

Beth said...

So I'm a day late reading this, but DAMN.

I'm all sad now.

But also, that's a totally lame reason to quit SP. As you said, they've been making fun of Mormons and Christians for 9 years, but once it's "his" religion, it's not okay...makes a lotta sense..

Morgan said...

It was a lame reason, Beth. What gets me is that South Park has been so brutal - in a really funny way - to other religions for so long and it was OK with Hayes.

I read another article recently that said Parker and Stone had been wanting to do a Scientology piece but held off for the sake of Hayes before doing the episode.

tc said...

Comedy Central pulled the repeat of the episode and replaced it with one which prominently featured Chef.

Parker and Stone sent a letter to Daily Variety with these words:

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"

Bwah-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.


Morgan said...

Oh god, Tom, that is too funny!!!
I love Parker and Stone.
Viva la resistance!!