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Last Updated: Friday, 14 January 2005, 14:13 GMT
Stone defends celebrity satire
Team America
Team America satirises the "war on terror"
South Park creator Matt Stone has defended his depiction of a number of leading celebrities in his puppet spoof Team America: World Police.

While Team America's main target is current US foreign policy, it also contains unflattering portrayals of a number of anti-war Hollywood actors, and features gruesome scenes in which their puppets are destroyed.

Campaigning couple Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon come in for particularly harsh treatment, while actor Sean Penn consulted his lawyers over his "appearance" in the film.

However, Stone - who wrote, directed, and voiced the movie with creative partner Trey Parker - insists celebrities are fair game.

"These people are icons in our culture, and I think probably over-celebrated," Stone told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme.

"They're not great people, any more than any of us might be great people or bad people.

"They're so celebrated that it's just fun to take icons, make puppets of them, and blow them up.

"A lot of people think that because you make fun of something, you think it's stupid or it doesn't matter. That's totally not true."

US metaphor

As well as Hollywood's elite, Team America also lampoons a number of world leaders, including Tony Blair and Kim Jong-Il.

The film's plot centres on a Broadway actor who is convinced by the government to fight for the country alongside an elite "international police force".

The group is sent on a mission to combat the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, who is shown selling weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.

Stone explained why he felt it was important to lampoon the anti-war campaigners.

Matt Stone
You have to make fun of the extremes on both sides
Matt Stone
"Very early on we decided we did not want to make a movie that was 'here's where we should fall on the side of American foreign policy'," he said.

"We really decided very early on to make Garry, the central character, a quintessential American - he's apolitical, he has his own life, and he's a good guy and he wants to do the right thing.

"He's thrown into this firestorm where the extremes on both sides are telling him 'you should be proud, you should be ashamed, what do you think about this country, are you proud to be a part of this team' - and Team America being a metaphor for America.

"To do a movie like that, you have to show both sides, and you have to make fun of the extremes on both sides, as well as the simplistic values where they just try to boil it down to a bumper sticker."

Responsibility

Despite the inevitable controversy, Stone said that he and Parker had insisted on - and been given - final say over what appears on screen.

"We insist on that in any contract that we do - so ultimately the movie's ours, and we have to take responsibility for it," he said.

Team America
Stone and Parker wrote, directed and voiced the film
"The studio never made us change one thing in it. I've noticed that people think there's this really fearful culture in America, and it's just not true," he said.

"That's the greatest part about America, you can say whatever you want about whoever you want.

"People will put you in your place - it doesn't mean you can say whatever you want about whoever you want and there will be no consequences.

"That's not what free speech means. It means that you can say whatever you want, and people respect that right to do that."




SEE ALSO:
Review: Team America: World Police
15 Oct 04 |  Entertainment


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