AS it is wont to do, Saturday Night Live created a satirical video. If you’ve seen an appreciable sampling of films by Quentin Tarantino, “D’Jesus Uncrossed” will certainly tickle your funny bone a little. The gratuitous violence and language, explicit parodies of iconic Tarantino sequences, and outlandish historical re-writing all suggest one thing to the culturally literate: Tarantino is the butt of this joke.
In choosing to use Jesus Christ as the vehicle for its satire, SNL has incited the indignation of many Christians. The problem, of course, is that “Christian Tarantino fans” are a very small demographic. This means that many Christians who see the sketch assume that SNL is simply using a superficial reference to the recent release, “Django Unchained” as a nefarious excuse to demean Christianity.
For this reason, Michael Farris, the Chancellor of my alma mater, wrote a Facebook note calling for a Christian response, including potential boycotts of SNL’s corporate sponsors. On the discussion thread below the note, many Christians have commented. A significant number of these comments are patently ridiculous. For instance, one comment condemned the video’s violent portrayal of Jesus while, in the same sentence, expressing anticipation of Christ’s return “to judge the earth in fire.”
Seeing this, one of my acquaintances catalogued some of the more hilarious quotes and posted them in a separate thread. Many of my younger friends had a mirthful discussion here, noting the absurd expressions of outrage that resulted from people’s unfamiliarity with Tarantino and their general inability to make logical arguments.
This wasn’t all the thread did, however. While I can’t speak to the motives of the original post, the general tone of the participants suggested that all Christians who were offended by the video and think that speaking out against it is appropriate are just as misguided as the ones who made bone-headed comments. They seemed to think that the idiocy of some who take umbrage at the sketch may be imputed to all who do so. Generally speaking, those who find the video inappropriate were lumped together with the group of fun-sucking fundamentalists with no sense of humor.
I should not have to point out the irony of a discussion whose purpose is to ridicule unreasonable arguments but which proceeds by means of an implicit red herring (specifically, guilt by association). The entire purpose of Farris’s original post—a debate about the moral quality of the video—was overshadowed by a self-congratulatory demolition of obviously weak assertions.
What no one did was ask the right question: is it okay to use Jesus Christ as a vehicle for satirizing a popular artist, especially if the satire proceeds by depicting the Son of God as a blasphemer and sadist? I have seen (and enjoyed) many of Tarantino’s releases, and I concede the cleverness of SNL’s sketch. As far as I know, however, God’s command that I fear Him is not contingent upon the cleverness of my irreverence. Thinking Christians should not allow their desire to skirt the ridicule of secular culture to persuade them to condone blasphemy. Certainly, many of our brothers and sisters condemn this video for the wrong reasons. Our reaction, however, should be to provide well-reasoned correction to their error while still affirming their refusal to smirk at the ridicule of our Lord.