The Passion of the Jew
|"The Passion of the Jew"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||March 31, 2004|
"The Passion of the Jew" is the third episode of the eighth season and the 114th overall episode of the American animated series South Park, originally broadcast on Comedy Central on March 31, 2004. It was written and directed by Trey Parker, who, along with fellow series co-creator Matt Stone, voiced most of the characters in the episode. "The Passion of the Jew" is a satirical critique of the media discourse surrounding Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.
The boys are playing Star Trek in Cartman's mother's new minivan, and as usual Cartman is giving Kyle a hard time about being Jewish. Cartman dares Kyle to watch The Passion of the Christ, the box-office success of which Cartman holds up as proof that everybody hates Jews. Kyle sees the film and is horrified by its violent depiction of how Jesus was tortured and crucified. Kyle feels intense guilt and has nightmares in which he and other Jews laugh while killing Jesus. He tells Cartman that he was "right all along" about the Jews; overjoyed, Cartman prays to a poster of The Passion's director Mel Gibson and vows to dedicate his life to making sure everyone sees the film. Meanwhile, Stan and Kenny watch The Passion and hate it. Declaring it a "snuff film", they demand their $18 back from the theater, but are told that they can only get their money back from Gibson.
Attempting to contact Gibson, Stan and Kenny telephone the head of the Mel Gibson Fan Club—Cartman, who yells at them for disliking the film, but lets slip that Gibson lives in Malibu. Stan and Kenny make their way there. Meanwhile Cartman dresses in a brown Hitler-esque uniform and hosts a fan club meeting in his backyard. The attendees have gathered to celebrate The Passion's role in helping them rediscover Christianity. Cartman suggests that each attendee take one more person to see the film before they begin what he refers to as "the cleansing"—the fan club members obliviously agree.
When Stan and Kenny reach Gibson's house, the director rambles, straps himself to a rack wearing only underwear and says that no matter how much they torture him he will never refund their money. When the boys insist that they just want their money back, Gibson chases them around the house with a gun, à la Looney Tunes. Stan and Kenny take $18 from Gibson's wallet and flee on a bus home. Gibson, wearing face paint from Braveheart, chases them in the tanker truck from Mad Max 2, screaming "Qapla'!" and "Give me back my money!" Back in South Park, Kyle talks to Father Maxi about his issues regarding Jesus and the guilt he has been feeling since seeing Gibson's film. Father Maxi points out that the Passion was originally a play used to stir up antisemitism, but says that its subject matter can still help people. Kyle seizes on Father Maxi's statement that "Christianity is about atonement" and says he now understands what he should do.
At another fan club rally outside the South Park theater, Cartman shouts hateful slogans in German and gives the attendees lines to shout back; mistaking the German for the Aramaic spoken in The Passion, they happily do so and join Cartman in goose-stepping through South Park shouting antisemitic slogans. Meanwhile, Kyle suggests at his synagogue that the Jewish community should apologize for Jesus' crucifixion, prompting uproar in the congregation. The rabbi tries to calm the situation, saying "we live in a rational community, and everybody knows this is just a movie", but just then Cartman and his parade pass the synagogue.
Horrified, the rabbi and congregation go to the theater and demand that they stop showing The Passion. Their argument with Cartman and his followers is interrupted by the arrival of the truck chase—Gibson crashes into the theater, destroying it. When he emerges unscathed, Cartman rushes to worship him, but Gibson ignores him and, rambling, smears his own excrement on a building, much to the astonishment of Kyle and the fan club members. Stan states that Christians should follow Jesus' teachings and not focus on how he died; the fans agree and disperse, much to Cartman's dismay. Kyle says he feels better about his Jewishness after hearing Stan's speech and seeing Gibson, who defecates on Cartman's face and runs off whooping.
The New York Times' Virginia Heffernan praised the episode, writing "Depending on whom you asked, that episode, 'The Passion of the Jew,' proved that the show's still got it or that it's made a comeback or that it's better than ever. In any case, it was good." It was also praised by the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward, which called it "perhaps the most biting critique of 'The Passion' to date."
Besides appearing on the South Park complete eighth season DVD set, "Passion of the Jew" is also available as a standalone DVD release (which was released on DVD the same day that the DVD of the Passion of the Christ was released) with two bonus episodes: season six's "Red Hot Catholic Love" and season seven's "Christian Rock Hard".
- Virginia Heffernan (April 28, 2004). "Critic's Notebook; What? Morals in 'South Park'?". The New York Times.
- Max Gross. "'The Passion of the Christ' Fuels Antisemitism — on 'South Park'". The Jewish Daily Forward.
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