RUSSIA

Oh my God, they killed Kenny, Homer and Peter!

Russian authorities are in a flap about "Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo", who they say "promotes religious hatred". The upset means that along with The Simpsons and Family Guy, Mr Hankey and his South Park friends will soon disappear from Russian television screens. Read more...

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Russian authorities are in a flap about "Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo", who they say "promotes religious hatred". The upset means that along with The Simpsons and Family Guy, Mr Hankey and his South Park friends will soon disappear from Russian television screens.

The satirical cartoons are said to promote violence and pornography, distorting children's moral values and spreading panic and fear among them. South Park is considered the worst offender and has been branded extremist. TV channel 2x2, which airs most of the shows, was also forced to cut Happy Tree Friends and The Adventures of Big Jeff, also considered extremist, last spring. But this time the channel will contest the attorney general's decision, arguing that the shows are aired late at night and are not aimed at children. In a bid to prevent the disappearance of the cartoon, South Park fans recently staged a protest outside the courts.

UPDATE (25 Sept 08 - 11.30am): The 2x2 channel won its case in court on Wednesday, meaning that it will be allowed to keep its license and continue to air the shows. However, it still faces criminal investigation for extremism concerning the broadcasting of South Park.  

The Simpsons episode everyone's talking about

Lenin comes back to life in an old episode of The Simpsons, which many Russian web users have brought up in the light of recent events.

"[This] is a clear indicator of increasing restrictions on freedom of expression in Russia"

Oleg Kuvaev, 41, is the author of "Masyanya", Russia's most popular modern cartoon.

The South Park ban is an expected, but certainly unpleasant event. When a country takes steps towards conservatism, it's almost always the artists and their work that suffer first. South Park isn't an eternal masterpiece, but banning the cartoon is a clear indicator of increasing restrictions on freedom of expression in Russia. It's interesting that animation - a genre which offers more creativity than others - suffers first. I hope that these steps towards conservatism won't throw us back into the dark ages. It's a pity that we now have fewer reasons to laugh."

An episode of Kuvaev's Masyanya.

"I think that the case is a reaction to the cooling down of political relations with the US "

Mikhail Aldashin, 49, is one of the most famous representatives of the "classic" school of Russian animation.

The General Prosecutor's Office knows what it's doing - there is an issue to discuss here. I think that the case is also a reaction to the cooling down of political relations with the US. It's strange that they're targeting The Simpsons now - I remember a sketch about Reagan and Gorbachev whereas I don't think they've made anything about the current Russian rulers. As for South Park, I like dark humour, and Mr Hankey is a brutal, over-ironic artefact. However, the series isn't a programme for a wide audience - it would better be shown on cable. In the US it's shown on a channel you have to pay for.

It is very different from traditional Russian animation. There are national specifics and traditions which should've been taken into account. We do have this type of humour as well, our life and language are saturated in it. But it's punishable - in old Russia "skomorokhs", or travelling clowns, were hung drawn and quartered for it."

Mikhail's cartoon: "Keleh aka Kele", 1988

South Park fans rally against the ban

Photo by "winnukem".

The signs read: "Today they came after Kenny, tomorrow they will come after you!" "Gimme a monument!" "Forbidden to forbid!" The protest took place in Moscow on 13 September '08.

 

Photo by Vasilyev Timofey.