These include the giddy cheers of the SNL live audience following the piece, the comments under the YouTube video of the sketch, the patent and far reaching double standard about whom it is fine to offend in American culture, the worrisome depths and numbness to which popular entertainment culture has declined, the pathological schizophrenia that obtains among left wing entertainment elite on the matter of violence, and the timing of the piece (namely the start of Lent).
The core of my disappointment lays not in moralist or liturgical obsessions involving legitimate charges of blasphemy (in my view a proper injunction) but in more widely applicable negatives namely that material like this is ignorant and childish. Like a 1 year old smearing poo everywhere thinking herself an avant-garde rebel against constraining norms.
The difference between SNL’s skit and the little one smearing stink is that the child is not heavily funded, and does not participate in a network of self important figures in the multi-billion dollar entertainment industrial complex, spending your money and drinking your wine. The 1 year old thankfully is limited to her own rear-end, her own walls, her own face and hair, and she doesn’t have a thousand people excitedly cooing, under a YouTube video imagining themselves champions of courageous and daring horizons of self expression.
The putrid outcome of the little one in her diapers further resembles the Djesus skit in that neither is funny. SNL has long been lazy in creating elaborate enactments of profoundly average ideas. This skit had a single funny line, calling the SNL grotesquery less violent than Mel Gibson’s cartoonish and bloody depiction of Jesus.
The delighted squeals and cheers from the SNL live audience can probably be forgiven. Anyone who’s ever been a part of a live TV audience knows the demeaning experience of being manipulated by second rate comics or MCs telling you when to laugh and when to applaud. It is embarrassing. Some years back I went to see Tracy Chapman on the Letterman Show. Loved her, hated being told what to do all night long by cue card holding clowns.
The freedom to offend Christians in a politically correct America is a disgrace. Calling an athlete athletic has cost commentators their jobs and careers. Defiling the sacred and offending sincere religious believers is fine.
A US army handbook in preparation reported by WSJ warns “that soldiers should avoid “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” [and] “any criticism of pedophilia.” So we must be careful not to criticize pedophilia, but it is fine to portray the beloved object of worship and love for millions of Americans as a violent, underdeveloped, sadistic thug. This is the contemptible double-standard in contemporary America.
Furthermore SNL chooses to air this skit to coincide with the dawn of the Lenten season, when millions of quiet, sincere, humble American Christians are seeking help from Jesus to be sorry for our shortcomings, and to try to be better people.
The core tragedy of the piece lies most fully in associating Jesus with violence and revenge.
Jesus refused that a single sword be drawn, even in his own defense when his life was in danger. As a violent mob descended on Jesus, he demanded a follower put up (re-sheath) his sword (Mt 26:52), and warned him about escalating cycles of violence.
SNL has Jesus as a gruesome figure of revenge, yet the final act in Jesus life was to pray for the Romans. As Jesus hung to die, Roman Centurions gambled over his clothes. Jesus begged God’s forgiveness of them. With barely breath in his lungs Jesus tried to speak in defense of these men, arguing that their misdeeds were because of their ignorance. They did not understand what they were doing. (Luke 23:34)
SNL producers choose to portray a vengeful and violent Jesus on the eve of the most sacred and most reflective 40 days of the liturgical calendar. Hear still that barely audible prayer recorded in Luke.
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