Monday, August 11, 2008

Chef or Shaft?

Have I chosen an unfair title? Is it wrong for me to simplify his life down to two characters? There is more to his life and I have more to talk about.But to be honest, Isaac Hayes is mainly known for writing the theme song for the movie Shaft and for providing the voice for the character Chef on South Park. These are the two biggest parts of his career.Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for the theme ng to the film Shaft. He not only had a great voice, but was an extremely talented musician and writer.He was known to two generations of fans. The first was in the early 1970s and the second was in the late 1990s. To me, he was the voice of Chef, the woman seducing chef who worked in the cafeteria at the elementary school. He would sing like the 70s soul singer. Chef was very important on the show because he was the only adult who the children could turn to for advice.Then came Scientology.Isaac Hayes was a Scientologist. He was deeply offended by an episode in which Tom Cruise and Scientology were made fun of. He left South Park because he felt that the show was insensitive towards his religion.

The problem is that South Park did not target one religion, but made fun of multiple religions and many different social groups. South Park made fun of Jews, Catholics, and Mormons as well. Isaac Hayes had a double standard. He was okay being on the show when it made fun of the other groups, but felt that his own group needed to be treated with kid gloves.

Sometimes people actually get the opposite response that they were looking for. By actually leaving the show, I feel that Isaac Hayes may have created more hostility towards Scientology. Some people believe that he was pressured to leave the show. He could have used his role of Chef to actually get people to learn more about his religion. Instead, there is a view that Scientology forced him to leave the show and they seem more controlling over individuals than other religions.

I feel that this situation tainted his legacy. Had South Park only targeted Scientologists, then I would side with him. I was angry that he left the show. I was disappointed that with his passing, he can never return to South Park. To me, Isaac Hayes is Chef, not Shaft. He made South Park better with his presence. While I still feel angry with him, I am sorry that he passed away.


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