As most of you probably know, even if you don't pay much attention to the sports pages, the Washington NFL football team has come under a great deal of heat for using the nickname "Redskins" as offensive and derogatory.
The team owner, Dan Snyder, has insisted adamantly that he will not change the name, that it is used out of respect and admiration for Native Americans. Yet a growing number of high-profile critics have begun to say that they will no longer refer to the team by the nickname, just as Washington, most recently the respected CBS football analyst, Phil Simms, a former quarterback in the NFL. Also, the Minnesota Vikings are playing their home games this year at the University of Minnesota, as a new stadium is being built, and as a state school they have announced that when Washington comes to Minnesota to play the Vikings, the school will be "working with the Vikings to make every effort to eliminate the use of the Washington's team name" in the stadium, according to a letter from the university president, Eric. W. Kaler -- who additionally notes that November is Native American Heritage Month.
All of this was further complicated when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration in June, calling it a racial slur against Native Americans.
And now, South Park has gotten involved In -- it might not surprise you -- an utterly hilarious way.
On Sunday, to promote its upcoming season, the TV series bought an ad to run during the fourth quarter of Sunday's Washington game. It was only aired in Washington.
And it's a gem.
I worked on the movie BASEketball, that Trey Parker and Matt Stone starred in, directed by David Zucker. The TV series had only just started running on Comedy Central, so they were a bit bowled over by it all. For me, working on the film was a joyous experience, though the movie should never have been R-rated, which detracted far too much from the comedy of the film -- and also kept the bulk of their fans from being able to see it! (The edited TV version is actually far better.)
But the other thing that stood out was how otherworldly hard-working Matt and Trey were. They actually were writing, producing and starring in their TV show while making the feature film They even had an editing trailer on the lot, so when they weren't filming their scenes they didn't go rest, but worked on their TV show. And when filming was done for the day, they'd head to their production studio to continue working on the TV show until very late at night (or early morning), only to return to the movie set at 6 AM. It was a hellish schedule, but they kept at it for several months, all the while doing massive publicity because it was during film production that South Park became the breakout hit, getting them on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. And so most-everyone wanted to talk to them. They both said that the only reason they agreed to star in the movie is because they never thought South Park would get renewed. They were sure it would be over by the time film production began. If they had know it would be picked-up, they said they never would have done the movie! Yet, as I said, they trudged on. For whatever their reputations are as "goofs," I've rarely seen people in the entertainment industry work as hard as they did.
I mention this all because, among other things, Matt and Trey were huge Denver Broncos fans. My recollection is that they even flew back to attend the Super Bowl when the Broncos played -- and won. So, I suspect that there is even a bit more joyful snark behind their dig at Washington in their ad.
I just wish it had been broadcast everywhere. Though in some ways this is even funnier that it only ran in Washington alone.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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