“He’s risen from the dead … and he’s preaching anything but forgiveness.”
A recent show of Saturday Night Live included a mock trailer for DJesus Uncrossed (playing off of the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained). It was witty and creative, but for many, also deeply offensive. After rising from the grave, the Son of God cuts down a cadre of Roman soldiers with a katana and sends Judas Iscariot to the afterlife with a shotgun blast to the chest. In a nod to another Tarantino film (Inglourious Basterds), the Apostle Peter marshals the other eleven to go on rampage, killing “Ro-mans.”
Writing for the entertainment section of Time online, James Poniewozik argues that the entire skit is satire. The focus is not on the biblical story of Jesus, but on the ridiculous gore and violence prevalent in Tarantino’s films. Poniewozik argues that they’re so gory and violent that even a film about Jesus would twist the portrait of the forgiving, peaceful Son of God into a bloodthirsty action hero.
I understand Poniewozik’s explanation. After all, the skit is certainly shot in Tarantino’s style. And as I said, it was witty and creative. But explaining it as satire doesn’t quite work. You might be able to sell that to a hipster crowd of Manhattan intelligentsia, but there are some things that should be off limits. Why so? Let’s as a few questions.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was known for preaching a message of peace and peaceful resistance against injustice and bigotry. Would SNL ever consider doing a skit depicting King going on a violent rampage? Maybe a midnight raid on a KKK meeting, blowing a Grand Wizard and all his little minions to bloody bits with a .50 Browning Machine Gun?
Tibetan monks practice one of the best examples of commitment to non-violence in the world. What if the Dalai Lama ripped off his orange robe to reveal a Batman-like suit of armor underneath, and launched out on a rampage against the Chinese, flinging throwing stars with machine-like precision and decapitating his opponents with reckless abandon? Maybe with a tagline something like, “He’s won the Nobel Peace Prize … but now it’s judgment day!”
The skit wouldn’t have been received so poorly if NBC—and the media in general, for that matter—had a better track record of its treatment of Christianity. As it stands, we have shows routinely mocking Christianity and Christians, like the cancelled ABC comedy-drama GCB (based on the book Good Christian [expletive]), about a bunch of Southern belles who are little more than religious hypocrites. I watched an episode of Criminal Minds just last week in which a Christian father was blamed squarely for turning his homosexual son into a psychopathic serial murderer. And when the murderer was captured, he was told, “It’s not your fault.”
I wasn’t terribly offended by DJesus Uncrossed, but I was saddened and disappointed. Especially that anyone could portray the Son of God as a violent, vengeful agent of death. Even if it was satire.