South Park is a place that isn’t kind to celebrities. The animated programme has been a stalwart of satire for over 20 years and there isn’t a topic that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone won’t find something to poke fun at or ridicule. However, when The Cure’s Robert Smith made a cameo during the first series of the show back in 1998, he was treated with all the dignity and respect he has duly earned.
The episode had a premise that was typical South Park and beautifully bizarre. Rather than Robert Smith being on the receiving end of the venom, the writers save that for Barbra Streisand — who didn’t voice her character, unlike Smith did with his effort. The episode was twelfth in the first season of the hit show and was cleverly titled, ‘Mecha-Streisand’.
The plotline follows Streisand hunting for the ‘Diamond Of Pantheos’, but Cartman is the person who holds the final diamond and stands in the singer’s way of achieving her goal. The plot quickly escalates into a parody of Godzilla, with Streisand morphing into a giant monster called Mecha-Streisand. She becomes this unstoppable force until the arrival of The Cure’s Robert Smith, who is the only person with the capabilities of defeating the evil force of Streisand.
Smith morphs into a giant moth called Mothra and saves the day. It’s a classic good vs evil story, with Smith being symbolic of everything great in the world. “Robert Smith kicks ass,” Cartman says following his defeat of Streisand, before adding: “Goodbye Robert Smith, thank you for your help. Visit us again!” Whilst Kenny shouts at The Cure singer: “Disintegration is the best album ever!”
Smith later reminisced about his appearance on a South Park documentary: “I was like the arch-enemy of Barbara Streisand, I still don’t quite know why. They only gave me the bits I had to say, so I had no idea of the script. Can you tell me what I’m supposed to be? ‘No no, you don’t need to know that!
“Just read the lines! I didn’t actually see it until it was broadcast, so it was quite a shock. And the thing about Disintegration is the greatest album ever made, that was like my happiest moment.”
Although Smith was both bewildered and pleasantly surprised with his portrayal in the programme, it’s safe to say Barbra Streisand didn’t share his reaction to the episode. Speaking to Mirabella shortly after it aired, she vented: “I wasn’t even aware of this show until I read in Time magazine that they had used me in a very negative way. Let me say that I enjoy satire and parody and I loved the movie In & Out. It made me laugh. It wasn’t mean-spirited.
“But I wonder if shows like South Park and Beavis and Butt-head don’t add to the cynicism and negativity in our culture, especially in children. These youngsters are formulating their attitudes and maybe they come away feeling that any woman who dares to accomplish something is the incarnation of self-centeredness and greed. And that would be very unfortunate, especially for young girls.”
I think I speak for everybody reading this that after over 20 years since the release of ‘Mecha-Streisand’, we deserve to see the reintroduction of Robert Smith in South Park one more time. Check out a clip of The Cure leader’s heroic antics from his visit to the Colorado town, below.