South Parks latest passions &mdash Mel Gibson, Jews and Christians

Back in 1997, throngs of U.C. Berkeley students piled into LaVal’s Southside pizza parlor to watch the “Who is Cartman’s Father?” episode of “South Park” on the joint’s redneck-sized television. It was fog-up-your-glasses packed, a Super Bowl-sized crowd.

Since that edition aired April 1, “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone pulled an April Fool’s on everyone and, instead, aired an episode revolving around Canadians repulsing an Iraqi invasion via lethal flatulence. Loud and inebriated undergraduates spilled out into the damp and dimly lit streets of Berkeley — and they were mad.

Eight years later, it’s simply mind-boggling that “South Park” is still on TV, and, frankly, better than ever. The shock value of cherubic animated kids using Dick Cheney-esque vocabulary got old even faster than Cheney. So Parker and Stone, who is Jewish, have augmented their crudity with extravagant musical numbers, deceptively sharp social satire and, of course, even higher-grade crudity.

In a recently released special DVD, the show has taken on three Moby Dick-sized targets with Ahab-like intensity: Judaism, Christianity and Mel Gibson.

Gibson is given the Barbra Streisand treatment in “The Passion of the Jew,” the signature episode on the three-show DVD. The heartthrob actor turned hardcore Catholic director is portrayed as an out-and-out lunatic with a torture fetish and a penchant for hopping around and shouting “woo-woo, woo-woo” a la Daffy Duck.

All right, here’s the synopsis: Kyle the Jewish kid becomes wracked with guilt after watching “The Passion”; Cartman, the fat, bigoted kid, becomes a Hitlerian-type charismatic leader parading the Christian fans of the film in goose-stepping marches through the town; and Stan and Kenny decide the movie sucks — and “in America, if something sucks, you’re supposed to get your money back.”

So, the two travel to Gibson’s house in Malibu to get their $18 refund. Gibson, however, refuses to hand over the cash, because “I’ve put the fire and brimstone back into the Christianity, and now I’m going to start my own church. Why? Because I want to play the banjo!”

In the ensuing moments, Gibson dons “Braveheart” face paint, grabs the wheel of the tanker (or, in Australian-speak, “tank-ah”) he piloted in “The Road Warrior,” and defaces downtown South Park with his own fecal matter.

The lesson of the show, as voiced by Kyle: “I feel so much better about being Jewish now that I see Mel Gibson is just a big, wacko douche.”

Any discomfort felt by Jews at images such as several large-nosed, curly-haired, nasally New York-accented cartoon figures shouting out “stereotyping Jews is horry-bull!” will be mild compared to the way Catholics must view the episode “Red Hot Catholic Love.”

The show portrays the Catholic Church as utterly infested with unrepentant pederasts up to and including the Vatican, with only South Park’s Father Maxi willing to risk his life to confront the problem.

Finally, in “Christian Rock Hard,” Cartman forms a Christian rock group in an episode that skewers the crocodile tears of rich musicians crusading against online music piracy and the fact that Christian rock ‘n’ roll just plain sucks.

Among the joys of DVDs are the many extras: director’s commentaries, subtitle options, resumes and music. Unfortunately, this DVD has absolutely no extras whatsoever. In “South Park”-speak, this totally blows. Also, while plenty of the show’s filthy lexicon comes through, the words you can’t say on TV are still bleeped out. This, too, totally blows.

With no more to offer than the shows you could TiVo or record on your VHS, throwing down $19.99 (or $16.99 on Comedy Central’s Web site) for this DVD seems a tad pricey. That’s no knock on Parker and Stone — these shows are great. So, as the South Park kids might put it, “Hey, Comedy Central, give us more, you cheap bastards!”

Comedy Central presents “The Passion of the Jew” plus two episodes, $16.99-$19.99.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.