Tom Cruise, Mohammed, South Park, and Why Streaming Sucks

(Screencap courtesy of Comedy Central.)

Comedy Central’s “South Park” is famous — some would say infamous — for its take-no-prisoners approach to comedy. But out of the animated show’s 323 episodes (and counting), a handful of the most controversial, featuring Tom Cruise and Mohammed, aren’t available with the others on the Max streaming service. If you aren’t a “South Park” fan, and admittedly I haven’t watched regularly in over a decade, maybe this news doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it really is for reasons I’ll get to in just a moment.


Collider reported on Sunday that “there are two episodes with Tom Cruise as the antagonist that are not on Max, nor available for digital purchase on any platform.” The episodes that have been removed include an anniversary set of shows titled “200” and “201,” plus “Cartoon Wars” (parts 1 and 2), and also “Super Best Friends.”

To his credit, Cruise has never commented on the episodes or had anything to do with their removal from Max, the iTunes Store, etc. The real rub was cartoon depictions of Mohammed that didn’t just incur threats from a radical Muslim organization, RevolutionMuslim, but also got lefty tongues wagging over possible limits to free speech. Funny cartoons about weird movie stars and drawings of prophets whose followers aren’t supposed to draw images of him are hate speech or something, I guess.

Tom Cruise South Park

But here’s the nice thing: all five “missing” episodes are still available on DVD. Here’s the even nicer thing: no one can take those DVDs away, like Max can suddenly decide to stop streaming certain episodes.

I know most of the world has gone all-in on music streaming, but I’m still adding CDs to my collection. Taylor Swift fans learned in 2021 that the popular singer-songwriter was rerecording her back catalog to have versions of her older albums that she owned the rights to — but if you prefer the originals, you’d better buy them on CD the old-fashioned way.


There’s nothing new here. In 2009, Amazon quietly (and oh-so-ironically) removed digital copies of Orwell’s “1984” from users’ Kindles. The problem was with a seller that didn’t have the rights to sell the book but did so anyway. When Amazon learned of it, they didn’t just issue refunds, they deleted the content.

Beloved classics from Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, and more have been Bowdlerized to suit woke sensibilities, and guess which version you’ll get the next time you need to download a copy? Hint: it won’t be the original. Amazon has already proven its ability and willingness to remove content without notice, so who’s to say they might not slip in a few edits while you sleep?

But like those “South Park” DVDs, nobody can change or remove the books and other content you own in hard copy. Some folks make fun of my massive collection of ripped movies and TV shows, but even if it’s only a matter of convenience, no streaming service ever dropped or altered the stuff I stream personally from a server in my basement.

So here’s a bit of advice you can print out and put on your bookshelf: If you find something you love on streaming or as an e-book, do yourself a favor and buy the book, the CD, or the DVD.


Recommended: You Won’t (???) Believe What Disney Is Doing to Snow White

P.S. Don’t miss the “Five O’Clock Somewhere” VIP Gold Live Chat with Stephen Kruiser and Yours Truly at 4 pm Eastern on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. There is sometimes a special guest and almost always day-drinking.


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