Scientology in Popular Media

south parkClick here to read more, and view / download all of South Park’s Scientology episodes

The works of Trey Parker and Matt Stone are not for everyone. They specialise in biting satire presented with such creatively bad taste, that it’s in good taste.

They are probably best known for the anarchic cartoon series “South Park”, which has so far seen 247 episodes over 17 seasons.

Of course, “South Park” is featured here because of its conflict with the Church of Scientology. This began with a short film (“The Gauntlet”) followed by the full episode “Trapped in the Closet”. This episode satirised not only the beliefs of the Church, but also the character and behaviour of its celebrity adherents (notably Tom Cruise, who believes himself to be ‘second in command’ in the Church hierarchy).

Typically, Scientology could not ignore this challenge, and attempted to strike back at South Park Studios in a number of ways – all of which backfired on them by attracting media attention to the very points that they were trying to suppress.

selfosophyMillennium: Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defence (series 2, episode 9)

Streaming Video | Download File

“Millenium” was an American television series which ran from 1996 to 1999. It was  created by Chris Carter (best know for “The X-Files”) and follows the investigations of Frank Black, a consultant for the FBI. Black has the ability to see inside the minds of violent criminals, and is a member or the mysterious ‘Millennium group’.

This episode is a wonderful ‘wild card’. It is a funny and merciless send-up of Scientology (AKA Selfosophy) which also mocks the  characters and the series itself.

Juggenaut Onan Goopta (AKA L Ron Hubbard) fails a basic college biology course, and is later admitted to hospital for a mental breakdown. Here,  he embarks on a new career as a pulp fiction writer. He finds some success, because his detective stories “[…] are so bad that they are mistaken for brilliant parodies”. After the collapse of the magazine that had sustained him,  Goopta takes desperate measures, “In a single feverish night he managed to crank out a book that changed the course of human history”. This is entitled “SELFOSOPHY” (AKA Dianetics). Institutes of Selfolosophy soon appear, managed by elite staff who proudly wear uniforms modelled after those of the US Postal Service (AKA Sea Org).

It gets sillier… and funnier…  as the plot develops. Who knows how they got away with it.

visualise logo2010 | The Mentalist Extract from Season 2 Episode 20 (“Red all Over”)

Play extract in video window YouTube | Download File
Full episode Watch Online

The “Visualize Self-realization Church” that occasionally appears in early episodes bears a distinct resemblance to the Church of Scientology.

As a satire, this is great fun. It’s also interesting that the television company which made  the programme is not afraid of retaliation from the Church of Scientology – nor afraid that viewers might complain that its mockery of the Church is unfair.

Click here to go to the post for details and a description of another episode that satirises Scientology.


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