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May 10, 2006
Catholics Won't Be Demanding Beheadings And Assassinations

The German magazine Der Spiegel reports on the launch of a new television series, Popetown, that pokes fun at the Vatican and Catholics in general. German Catholics have protested the series, but Der Spiegel goes hyperbolic when it states that the controversy provides a companion piece to the Prophet cartoon madness:

A new MTV pilot cartoon making fun of the pope has stirred up religious outrage in Germany. Can one really show the pope hopping through the Vatican halls on a cross-shaped pogo stick? Prepare for the sequel to the Muhammad caricature controversy. ...

The controversy generated by "Popetown" is reminiscent of the outrage sparked across the Muslim world by the publication of a series of cartoon drawings of the prophet Muhammad. The publication of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper last autumn, and the decision by a number of other European papers to reprint them, led to European consulates being set on fire in Damascus and Beirut, violent demonstrations in Afghanistan and week-long boycotts of Danish products in the Middle East. One of the more bizarre after-effects of the turmoil was the staging of a contest for the best anti-Semitic cartoon by a group of Israeli artists. "Popetown" appears destined, in Germany at least, to be the sequel.

The fictional town which gives its name to the series is home to a 77-year-old, plump and childish little man with an oversized hat -- a pope who likes to play hide and seek, doesn't wash for months, wants to drink Coca Cola but isn't allowed to and enjoys bouncing through hallways on a cross-shaped pogo stick. Popetown's true rulers are three corrupt cardinals who dwell in a wellness spa hidden behind a bookshelf, and who spend their days ruminating over how they can become the richest men in the world. Other inhabitants of the town include a young priest, a dim-witted nun and a cardinal with a sexual preference for exotic animals.

If that wasn't in bad enough taste, MTV promoted the series by running advertisements that showed Jesus coming down from the cross and plopping himself into a cozy chair to watch the tube. It came with a motto: "It's Better to Enjoy Yourself Than to Hang Around." The fact that MTV ran this advertisement the week before Easter might have something to do with Catholic outrage in Germany.

Der Spiegel is dismissive of the complaints while exaggerating their impact. The Church protested, various politicians scolded MTV for its tastelessness and offense, and the media debated the entire issue. DS pokes fun at the spokesman for the Catholic Youth League, even though he hasn't even called for the series to be taken off the air. All the while, DS treats this as some sort of equivalent counterpart to the Mohammed cartoon issue in Denmark.

Tell you what. When Catholics gather by the hundreds of thousands demanding the assassination of the people responsible for Popetown, when they send emissaries to complete that mission, and when they burn down MTV offices in predominantly Catholic nations, then Der Spiegel might be able to make that analogy. Until then, they join the ever-swelling masses who can't tell the difference between free-speech protest and incitements to murder and arson.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 10, 2006 11:09 PM

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