Bloody Mary (South Park)

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"Bloody Mary"
South Park episode
Bloodymarysouthpark.png
Randy at the statue of the Virgin Mary underneath a shower of blood emanating from the statue's vagina.
Episode no. Season 9
Episode 14
Directed by Trey Parker
Written by Trey Parker
Original air date December 7, 2005
Episode chronology
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Season 9 episodes
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"Bloody Mary" is the fourteenth episode of the ninth season of the series South Park. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on December 7, 2005. In the episode, Randy drives drunk and loses his driver's license. He's then ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, where he learns that his alcoholism is a potentially fatal disease. Meanwhile, the Virgin Mary starts bleeding "out its ass" and Randy believes that he can be "cured" if the statue bleeds on him.

"Bloody Mary" was written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker and was rated TV-MA in the United States. This is only the second time in the history of the series that a season finale was aired in December but was not a Christmas-themed episode.

Plot[edit]

Stan, Cartman, Kyle and Ike attend karate class while Stan's dad Randy goes for a couple of drinks. After class, an inebriated Randy drives the boys home, but he gets pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Randy gets his license revoked and is ordered to perform community service and to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, where he is taught that he is powerless to control his drinking and that alcoholism is a disease. It also calls for him to surrender himself to a "Higher Power" in order to get better. Randy, whom Stan describes as a "hypochondriac", then ironically begins to drink more, since he has decided that he is in fact powerless to control it and cannot stop. Around this time, a statue of the Virgin Mary starts to bleed "out its ass" and people begin to flock around it to find a cure for their diseases. Randy believes it can heal him of his disease.

Randy has Stan drive him to the church where the statue is, and—after cutting in line, arguing that his "disease" is worse than that of others—he is drenched in the holy blood. He jumps up and declares that he will not drink any more (ostensibly because the bleeding statue is his "Higher Power"), and abstains from alcohol for five days.

The new Pope Benedict XVI comes to investigate, and discovers that the blood is not actually coming from the statue's anus, but its vagina. Since "chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time", this is no miracle (despite the fact that the statue is actually bleeding in the first place), and Randy, disappointed by this, suddenly realizes God did not heal him. He at first declares himself powerless again, and most of the other recovering alcoholics follow suit and rush to the bar. Stan then rushes outside after him and convinces him that if God did not help him, he must have managed to stop it himself. Randy then declares that he will never drink again, but Stan objects to this too, claiming that if Randy completely avoids drinking, drinking is still controlling his life, and that true discipline is figuring out how to live in moderation. Randy then puts Stan on his shoulders and walks home while the two discuss how much drinking would be proper.

Controversy[edit]

The episode was aired on December 7, 2005, which is the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic observance related specifically to the Virgin Mary. "Bloody Mary" was considered a very controversial episode, even by South Park standards. The Catholic League demanded an apology and that the episode "be permanently retired and not be made available on DVD" and that Joseph A. Califano, Jr., a board member of Viacom (the parent of Comedy Central) and a practicing Catholic, issue a personal statement.[1] Califano did later release a statement calling the episode an "appalling and disgusting portrayal of the Virgin Mary," and pledged to have it reviewed by Viacom's president and CEO, Tom Freston. Bishop William Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter to Freston saying the network showed "extreme insensitivity" when it aired the episode.[2] When Comedy Central re-aired the episodes on December 28, 2005, "Bloody Mary" was absent from the broadcast. Comedy Central responded to e-mail inquiries about the fate of the episode with the assurance that "Bloody Mary" has not been retired and would not be pulled from the DVD release.[3] Screen captures from the episode on Comedy Central's press site and the South Park section of comedycentral.com are absent.[4]

In February 2006, leaders from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Council of Christians and Muslims, and other religious groups together lobbied media conglomerate CanWest to stop a planned airing of the episode in New Zealand on the music channel C4. The network rejected the plea and said the episode would air as planned.[5][6] Leading Catholic bishops then called for a boycott of C4 and its sister network TV3. CanWest again resisted and aired the episode sooner than planned to take advantage of the media attention. New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark issued a statement saying the episode sounded "revolting," but that the network was free to air it. One advertiser withdrew his ads from CanWest's networks. Catholic group Family Life International set up a website for boycotting CanWest's other advertisers.[7][8] Another company named C4 Productions, which has no links to the C4 music channel, applied for a court order on the eve of the airing to stop the episode citing damage to its business because it thought people would link it to the channel. The judge ruled against the order.[9] C4 aired the episode on February 22, 2006 and drew 210,000 viewers, six times South Park's normal audience for the channel.[10] After receiving 102 formal complaints from viewers, the network issued a statement a month later saying "…C4 acknowledges the strength of feeling in relation to the programme, and we sincerely apologize for any offence taken."[11]

In June 2006 complaints received by New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) were rejected: The airing of the show was found to not be in breach of broadcasting standards. According to the BSA, "[b]ut showing disrespect does not amount to the sort of vicious or vitriolic attack normally associated with the denigration standard." They also said the episode was "of such a farcical, absurd and unrealistic nature that it did not breach standards of good taste and decency in the context in which it was offered".[12] New Zealand Catholic bishops have decided to appeal the decision.[13]

In February 2006, Archbishop Denis Hart in Melbourne, Australia wrote to television network SBS asking them not to air the episode. The network's programming director originally rejected the request, but later decided to postpone the episode citing the controversy over the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons.[14] The episode was, however shown on The Comedy Channel, on August 30, 2006. One reason for this was that they could advertise that they had shown an Australian premiere of an episode of South Park before SBS did.

On March 14, 2006, Rob Corddry, reporting on Comedy Central's own The Daily Show said:

…Christianity has evolved and matured. No longer do they stone people to death for blasphemy. Now they write a lot of letters to advertisers. Even a secular, atheistic, morally bankrupt entity like Comedy Central can be affected. Just ask Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park, whose recent episode entitled "Bloody Mary" was pulled after a single airing. Now obviously [we at] Comedy Central can't show you that offensive material...[15]

The South Park clips shown while Corddry spoke included plenty of potentially offensive or risqué material (fornicating cats, a man vomiting and then falling in his own vomit, Butters viewing two men having sex, etc.) but there was nothing from the "Bloody Mary" episode.

Like the "Trapped in the Closet" episode, "Bloody Mary" did return to the air, appearing on August 2, 2006 at 10 p.m.

"Bloody Mary" was also aired in 2012 in the UK with ComedyX calling it "One of the most controversial South Park Episodes".

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Virgin Mary defiled on "South Park"" (Press release). Catholic League (U.S.). 2005-12-08. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Bishops' president blasts South Park episode". Church Resources. 2005-12-21. Retrieved 2006-07-06. [dead link]
  3. ^ "South Park "Bloody Mary" an immaculate deletion, says Comedy Central". BoingBoing. 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  4. ^ Sarah Hall (2005-12-29). ""South Park" Parked by Complaints?". E!. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  5. ^ Kristian South (2006-02-13). "South Park controversy continues". Sunday News. Archived from the original on 2007-01-03. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  6. ^ Martin Johnston; Errol Kiong (2006-02-20). "TV chief rejects bishops' boycott call over 'tasteless' cartoon". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  7. ^ "Catholics urge South Park boycott". BBC News. 2006-02-21. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  8. ^ Errol Kiong; Martin Johnston (2006-02-22). "Church outrage as cartoon to air tonight". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  9. ^ Rebecca Palmer (2006-02-23). "Protests fail to stop Mary show". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 2006-07-06. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Bloody Mary show attracts six times usual audience". NZPA. 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2006-07-06. [dead link]
  11. ^ Rebecca Palmer (2006-03-24). "Apology over 'Bloody Mary' programme". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 2006-07-06. [dead link]
  12. ^ "BSA Releases South Park Decision" (Press release). Broadcast Standards Authority. 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  13. ^ "Catholic bishops to appeal South Park decision". The New Zealand Herald. 2006-07-12. Retrieved 2006-07-12. 
  14. ^ "Muslim cartoon controversy prompts SBS reversal on South Park". Church Resources. 2006-02-16. Retrieved 2006-07-06. [dead link]
  15. ^ "This Week In God - Blasphemy Edition". Comedy Central. 2006-03-14. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 

External links[edit]