Thursday, June 3, 2010

JC on CC

[This is one of those posts that may make people rethink what they think about me.] 

I don't have cable TV, so I only watch programs like Jon Stewart's or Stephen Colbert's when I come across a good clip. I occasionally catch the watered-down-for-broadcast-television episodes of "South Park" that are stripped of the profanity, gore, gay sex, and animal orgies.

But I've seen enough to conclude that Comedy Central — and "South Park" in particular — pokes a lot of fun at Christianity and Christians (just as it pokes fun at just about everything). So it's no surprise that Comedy Central would be interested in making a half-hour comedy about Jesus, tentatively called "JC":
“A half-hour animated show about JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy. A lot has changed in 2000 years and he is the ultimate fish out of water. Meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city. JC is a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb.”
Actually, I could see them being so aware of their own ability to offend that they might go out of their way to be "religiously sound" and even relatively reverent in some respects, such that a lot of non-fundamentalist Christians (and even some fundamentalists) might actually enjoy the program.

Needless to say, some conservative Christian groups are not too happy. And they're not too happy enough that they're preemptively protesting the show:
Based on Comedy Central's long history of mocking Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, it is clear that this show is intended to further denigrate a religion practiced by 80 percent of Americans.

There is a very clear double standard in the way the media and the popular culture treat Islam with respect and deference while mocking and ridiculing Christians and Christianity at every opportunity.
I do take issue with their statement that "Islam and other faiths are treated carefully and respectfully by the media and Hollywood elite." Some of "the media" has been encouraging cartoonists to deliberately offend any Muslim who feels that it is wrong to depict the Prophet Mohammed, a big story they might have missed while poring over the Hollywood Reporter for the latest antics of Comedy Central.

TMTKR, despite some high-profile cases (also here) that occasionally occur, I feel that South Korea has a relatively high degree of religious tolerance, particularly for a place with as much religious diversity as Korea has. That has been encouraged through means that would almost certainly be considered unconstitutional in the US, including the official recognition of holy days from the major faiths as public holidays (Christmas, Buddha's Birthday, Ch'usŏk, Lunar New Year, etc.) and a heavy-handed approach when it comes to defaming various faiths. My point is that "JC" probably wouldn't fly if it ever made it out of a network brainstorming session.

By contrast, there are some who seem to relish the chance to skewer religious faith, for no reason other than they have the right to do so. I'm not making a value judgement one way or the other, just an observation, although I sometimes find myself agreeing with Patrick Buchanan's sentiment [HT to WC] — and God help me that I'm actually agreeing with Pat about anything — that while the Mohammed-related cartoonists should have every right to do what they did, maybe they ought to consider the ramifications of their actions:
If you wish to get along with a man, you do not insult his faith. And if you seek to persuade devout Muslims that al-Qaeda is our enemy, not Islam, you do not condone with silence insults to the faith of a billion people.
Can't we all just get along?


  1. Though I was raised Roman Catholic---it didn't take---I don't consider myself Christian now and am not very religious except for some interest in Asian faiths. That said, I do appreciate the historical significance of Christianity in our culture, and I agree there's a double standard with regard to insulting Christianity in pop culture. True, depicting Jesus isn't considered blasphemy as depicting Mohammed is in Islam, but it's hard not to notice that nowadays certain groups---whether religious or not---enjoy protection while others are a fair target.

    And I don't think that because Christianity looms so large in the US that it's okay to try and knock it down a few pegs. Religious tolerance ought to extend to everyone, not just to people who complain the most or who threaten others.

  2. My own generic Christian upbringing has left me believing in God and trying to follow the tenets of the Bible but not having a lot of faith in religion as an institution, even though I consider myself Christian.

    But I do basically believe in treating others with respect and extending tolerance, and like you, I think that should be afforded to Christians as much as any other group.

    If this program is made, and if it ends up in the raft of programs that end up on Korean cable without anyone really checking first if there's a demand or a fit for them, I think it could erode — just slightly — the relatively peaceful coexistence of the various faiths by inadvertently opening the door to the style of potshot-taking that is vogue in American programming today.


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