Puppet Sex Rules in Team America
Matt Stone and Trey Parker talk Team America: World Police
Team America: World Police is already getting the buzz for skewering politics and celebrities in the action movie spoof starring marionettes. But the biggest story is the graphic sex scene between two puppets that was the sticking point of the MPAA. A very graphic version of the scene still exists, but there was more that director Trey Parker and producer Matt Stone cut out.
“The sex scene was basically more than twice as long,” Parker said. “It was great.” Stone added, “They loved each other very much.”
Puppet makers the Chiodo brothers had never explored puppet sex before, and were game to tarnish their reputations in the puppet community by catering to the South Park guys’ wishes.
“It was interesting because Matt and Trey had done an animatic with the GI Joe and Barbie dolls and then we tried to duplicate that,” Stephen Chiodo said. “So we had rehearsals bringing in our puppeteers to do positions. We had to rig them in certain positions to make sure we could get those poses. And we learned a lot of interesting things, like a pile drive and a salad.”
Charlie Chiodo added, “Things that I had never seen before. And it’s funny. Some of those puppeteers that had been doing this for 20-30 years, they stepped out of that. They didn’t want to do that.”
Making marionettes do any kind of action was difficult and time consuming throughout the film, but for the all important lovemaking session, Parker had to get hands on. “Trey is a great director but he could not direct some of the nuances he wanted,” Edward Chiodo said. “So while we were doing these scenes, he grabbed the puppet and said, ‘No, I want it like this.’ And he was doing it.”
“He was up there joyfully performing it,” Charlie added.
One thing Parker was careful about was not to make the puppets too lifelike. Parker recalled, “The puppet guys were even like, ‘Look, we put little pubic hair on them.’ We’re like, ‘No, no, don’t want to do that. We just want them to be little dolls.’”
The brothers found that that added a bit of innocence to the R-rated tryst. “The puppets have no genitalia expect the breasts,” said Edward.
“There is no male genitalia,” Stephen added. “It’s like they’re Barbie and Ken dolls, so again, it’s nothing more than all kids have seen before and it's not a kids movie anyway.”
Adding such details like genetalia would have ruined the humor. “The more realistic it became, the less funny it was,” Stephen said. “The more axes of movement, the more lifelike movement we gave the puppets during the sex scene, it just wasn’t funny. But when you had them stiff like dolls, kind of rutting, it just was funny.”
According to the brothers, a realistic sex scene could have been constructed with puppets had the filmmakers wanted that tone. “We had fully articulated faces that could give the whole range of emotions,” Charlie said. “And we said, ‘Do you want the eyes closed, do you want them moaning?’ [They said,] ‘No, keep the eyes open.’”
The full scene should be included on the DVD release, but it will be released theatrically in foreign markets “just because that would be great,” Parker said. “That would just point something out, that America is the only country that can’t see the whole puppet sex scene and every other country, in Australia and the UK.”
Having fought the MPAA before, Parker expected this to be the central controversy. “I knew the whole time,” he said. “[Some people thought], ‘Well, maybe they won’t have a problem with it?’ I was like, ‘No, I’ve been through this before. They are going to totally have a problem with it.’”
Even collaborator Stone thought they might get away with the scene. “I didn’t think they would [care],” Stone said. “I was wrong.”
However, the most disgusting scenes, including scat and golden shower practices, were only shot with the intention of being cut as a concession to the MPAA. Parker does not even wish to include them in foreign or DVD releases.
“There were some fluid scenes, yes, but those we put in specifically to be cut out,” Parker said. “We shot shots knowing that they would want something to bargain with. We shot shots knowing that we wouldn’t even want them in the movie, just for them to take out.”
Ultimately, the Chiodo brothers are proud to have the scene in a film. “Pushing the envelope is making puppets do things you normally haven’t seen before,” Stephen said. “I think having a love scene with puppets is really pretty brilliant. And again, it’s more of a parody on the film Armageddon where you’ve got in the midst of all this drama and tragedy, you’ve got these two people falling in love and having sex. So it’s really a love making scene as the guys as the guys have talked about it. And they just push it further and further until you see puppets do things you've never seen puppets do before.”