I am a proponent of free speech in the true sense of the term and rail against political correctness-warriors bent on shutting down any and every sentiment it deems offensive. And I believe that while often in poor taste it is still fine -- important even -- to poke fun at each other, and ourselves, particularly in comedic routines. After all, we should all be able to laugh at ourselves on occasion.
What I do abhor, however, is hypocrisy, intellectual laziness, malice, and spinelessness -- four repugnant attributes upon which the entertainment industry, particularly of late, seems to be founded. I've no issue chiding any ethnic or religious group in good humor, and in equal measure. But that is not the case in today's day and age.
Rather, Hollywood has assumed the role of playground bully. It's big, powerful and above all dumb, so it picks on the easy target -- the one it knows won't fight back. In turn the playground flunkies gather from near and far to applaud and cheer the bully -- how big and bold and smart he must be.
Case in point is Comedy Central's recent laugh-in over a crucified, body-building, sex-crazed depiction of Jesus. The segment hails from Tuesday evening's episode of @Midnight with host Chris Hardwick and "comedian" guests Mary Lynn Rajskub and Kurt Braunohler.
The idea was for the guests to come up with a line from "ripped" Jesus' "sermon." As with much of what passes for entertainment these days, the content is low-brow -- vulgar and riddled with expletives -- likely to compensate for the participants' lack of actual comedic talent. Newsbusters provides the video clip and I've parsed the relevant portions of the transcript below.
HARDWICK: Welcome back to @ Midnight. (audience applauds) Before the break, I showed you a picture of a super-ripped Korean Jesus, clearly coming back from the gun show. I asked you to — guys, give me a line from one of his sermons. Let's see what you came up with. Craig Ferguson.
FERGUSON: 'I think I need to perform a miracle, 'cause these Pilates are sick!' (audience applauds)
HARDWICK: Yeah. Yup. (laughs)
FERGUSON: (unintelligible) Like, started off Jesus; and then, he got 'guy in a gym.' That was my whole — conceive of the thing—
RAJSKUB: Get thee behind me Satan, and spot me; and then, I will in turn spot for you; and then, we can soap each other's d**ks in the locker room. (audience cheers and applauds)
FERGUSON: Okay; okay—
BRAUNOHLER: Do others as you would have others do you. Ripped Jesus loves to (expletive deleted) (audience applauds)
HARDWICK: All right. I got to do a thousand points for Mary Lynn—
Now is Comedy Central or anyone, really, free to poke fun at Jesus, however in bad taste? Of course. The issue is the frequency, ease, and malice with which it is done. It is easy to make Christians the butt of jokes, because those who do so know there will be no repercussions. It is easy to disparage any group with vulgarities and try to pass it off as comedy. But it is lazy comedy, bereft of intellectual content and creativity.
With this one skit the Left has also betrayed its own hypocrisy, for it comprises the most self-serious group of individuals to date -- ones who won't tolerate themselves or any of their cause-celebres -- including Islam -- being poked fun at at all.
The truth is that while it might be our right, society is not elevated by mocking any group, including Islam, in such a malicious and disparaging way. Still, if it is going to chose to go that route, then we would like to see this same skit re-enacted using a depiction of Islam's prophet Muhammed. Come on, Comedy Central. C'mon comedians. You're all big and bold and clearly think yourselves smarter than the average bear. We dare you.