August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes, known for composing the Theme from Shaft and for being the voice of Chef on South Park is dead today at age 65.

I can't think of Hayes without thinking of the circumstances of his exit from South Park; how it was unclear whether the statement released in his name came from him or came from Scientology surrogates who had pressured him into leaving the show.

For years, South Park used irreverent humor to lampoon different faiths, and Hayes was a part of that. Something changed when they targeted Scientology. Hayes didn't take part in that episode, but it is said that his reaction in interviews immediately after it aired were measured, calm and reasonable, putting the episode into the context of South Park's long history of humor.

Later, he resigned via a statement which criticized South Park for its intolerance. There is an odd disconnect between these two reactions, and questions about whether Hayes even approved the statement, though he did leave the show.

My feeling is that Hayes was taken advantage of, and that people sought to direct him with their own benefit in mind rather than his own. It's tougher to see from the inside of such an organization, but when people want to do your thinking for you I recommend you run like hell. Whatever you're getting out of an organization, giving up thinking for yourself is the beginning of the end for an individual. While it's certainly possible for a person to need a short term intervention from friends, it's a big red flag when the cause of the "intervention" is not something immediately life threatening.

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Posted by James at August 10, 2008 5:35 PM
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It's sad to know that the very slim chance of Chef someday returning to South Park is now a zero chance.

I didn't know until I saw your blog post that Hayes had died. I was still in shock about Bernie Mac. I was never a fan, honestly, but 50 seems too young to die.

So does 65. :(

If I believed in prayer and afterlife, I'd pray that Hayes would be kicking L. Ron Hubbard's ass right now.

Posted by: Julie at August 10, 2008 7:41 PM

Julie, you can still think that without believing in an afterlife. Cognitive dissonance is what being American is all about!

Posted by: briwei at August 11, 2008 1:24 PM

True, Bri. And it's unlikely that Hayes would be kicking Hubbard's ass anyway.

Maybe I could imagine Bernie Mac kicking both their asses.

Posted by: Julie at August 11, 2008 1:52 PM

Now that I can imagine!

Posted by: Patti M. at August 11, 2008 2:48 PM

Or you could imagine Hayes being pissed off that the Thetans never came to take him on the mother ship and so he is kicking Hubbard's ass. Although the Bernie Mac image is nice, too.

Posted by: briwei at August 11, 2008 5:17 PM

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