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Last night’s episode of South Park took in a few issues close to our hearts at Index: Belarus, Pussy Riot and the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
Briefly, in an effort to clean up his image after being exposed as an Armstrongish drug cheat, Jesus Christ begins to campaign on behalf of Belarusian farmers struggling against their government.
The cause becomes a hit — or at least, the coloured plastic bracelets associated with it becomes a hit.
At the end of the episode, Jesus appears in a “Save Pussy Riot” T-shirt.
The episode raises questions about people’s engagement with causes. As Ryan McGee put in at AV Club:
Are they motivated by empathy? By cultural pressure? By the desire to overcompensate for selfish behavior? By the desire to belong to a group? All options are possible, and all play out in one shape or another in tonight’s installment. Mr. Mackey really, really cares about those Belarusian farmers. But he also only cares about them so long as they justify his purchase of a bracelet proclaiming his support of them.
Anyway, apart from all the serious business, the episode does look very, very funny. You can watch some clips here.
Padraig Reidy is news editor of Index on Censorship. Follow him on Twitter – @mePadraigReidy
The news that a mobile phone company ad featuring a winking Jesus has been banned from future use should cause alarm among free speech fans. While using religious imagery to sell phones may seem a little crass, there is no real taboo around Christian imagery, despite the best efforts of the iconoclasts over the ages.
The placing of the ad during Holy Week may have seemed topical, but it apparently led 98 Christians to complain that it was disrespectful.
Phones4U claimed the ad aimed to present a “light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity relevant to the Easter weekend”. Why this is the job of Phones4U is not fully explained (though there are clearly echoes of “the values of the Carphone Warehouse” going on here: if you don’t know what I mean by that, watch the below clip now.
It is possible, however, that someone really has been wronged in all this: US director Kevin Smith, who introduced the Buddy Christ figure in his film Dogma. Smith, a Catholic, used the image as a satire on the church’s sporadic attempts to present itself as a youthful, hip organisation (the campaign in the film is given the painful title Catholicism Wow!)
Is it possible Smith’s copyright has been infringed?
Meanwhile, I can’t help but be reminded of another riff on the Buddy Christ idea, country singer Hayes Carll’s quite brilliant “She Left Me For Jesus”