ponedeljek, december 13, 2004

Cartoon vs. the Vatican in Croatia

Most Slovene TV watchers are familiar with the Croatian cartoon series Zlikavci (Hoodlums), which airs late-night on Fridays on HTV 2. Saturday’s Sobotna priloga highlighted the troubles the series is having with Catholic believers [Delo / 11.12.04 / Vse gre v vražjo mater!],

A group of Catholic faithful, led by Father Stjepan Fridl and Radio Marija, are up in arms over the series and are threatening to stage protests and to send petitions unless HRT takes the cartoon off the air. They have also threatened to send tapes of the show to the pope himself. For their part, the show’s creators and supporters say that if HRT suffers from any pressure over Zlikavci, they will move the show to a "friendlier and more democratic" country: North Korea.

Zlikavci revolves around four children, similar in concept and appearance to the South Park characters. Episodes usually take place in school, where contemporary social and political issues are discussed in a tongue-in-cheek and highly irreverent manner. For the Catholic protestors, however, the most offensive character is the kids’ religion teacher, Father Vjeran Božić.

Zlikavci creator Goran Pirš-Piro told Sobotna priloga, however, "It is wrong to think that it is a cartoon that only deals with the Church. The kids and their teacher talk about everything. It is a weekly column that deals with current events – from soccer, Slovenes and Severina to the parish priest who would not allow a blind man into church."

Sobotna priloga agrees: "Of course, it is possible to wonder whether Zlikavci really does offend the Church. Maybe it does, but then other groups should also be offended, such as young people, politicians, celebrities, minorities, Slovenes, Zagorci, gays, women… No one else has spoken up, since they understand the concept of the cartoon."

Visually, Zlikavci draws its inspiration from the American cartoon series South Park, but its spiritual inspiration comes from Zločesta djeca, a popular 1980s show on Zagreb’s Radijo 101. That show ended in the early 1990s, but its cast today are the backbone of Zlikavci.