The Ultimate Historical Revenge Fantasy
Implications and analysis of Saturday Night Lives “Djesus Uncrossed”
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise — Voltaire
The original comeback kid, Jesus, is the protagonist of Saturday Night Lives Quentin Tarantino parody “Djesus Uncrossed.” The sketch with Jesus rolling back his tombstone, but it is clear that he has no intention of spreading the word of God. Jesus has returned from the dead to take revenge upon the people who crucified him. In gory fashion the trailer depicts Jesus as a shot-gun wielding killing machine who has become incapable of showing mercy.
The sketch parodies many of Quentin Tarantino’s most iconic scenes, but in place of rogue slaves, and stone-cold assassins, it is Jesus, the prince of peace, who is annihilating anyone he comes across. What sells the skit is the demeanor of the actor who plays Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus is recorded as having a super-natural calmness. In the skit the Actor playing Jesus (Christopher Waltz,) captures the calmness, written in scripture, so eloquently. No-one could imagine a different look on Jesus’s face as the cold steel of his blade slides between the eyes of a fear stricken roman soldier. Depicting Christ in such a violent way, of course, has resulted in some controversy.
In popular media and most other observable mediums, Jesus reigns supreme as the most recognizable caricature in the history of mankind. Most everyone on the planet would be able to identify a picture of Jesus and list some basic information as to who he is. In addition to those who can recognize Jesus, there are those who have devoted their entire life to following his word, Christians. This is why it is not surprising that people would take offense when seeing their Lord and Savior wielding two Glock hand-guns while being accused of using the N-word.
The skit did not pan well with Christians. The American Family Association or AFA was appalled at the sight of Jesus Christ beating the living hell out of Roman soldiers. The organization urged companies to pull ads from the show in order to prove a point. some did, Sears and JC penny pulled their ads from Saturday Night Live (1).Cases such as this one do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the businesses that are involved. Sears and JC penny likely considered it to be in their best financial interest to not support the vigilante combat ready Jesus depicted by Saturday Night Live.
Parodies and in general jokes as a whole, about religion, are taken seriously by those who follow that religion. Religion in comedy follows a strange pattern. Comedians who are religious usually keep it on the down low. They don’t usually proclaim their religion unless that is part of their image or if the comedian does not serve any religion they position themselves against religion in order to make jokes about religion.
Historically people have put religion before anything else. Many wars have been fought in the name of religion. Entire countries have been created as result of difference in religion. Religion is held to the utmost respect and that respect which people have for religion is a direct of result of the seriousness that comes with choosing a religion to follow. When choosing a religion people are wagering their immortal soul. Once someone has essentially committed to a religion they have in a way joined that team, and as a member of that team it is only natural to defend it when it comes under attack. A negative response to criticism is only natural and when someone criticizes the roulette space on which you have bet your entire existence, defending it seems to be the best option.
Many people have called into question whether the sketch is a mockery of the Son of the all mighty God, or rather a stab at the artistic vision of director, Quinten Tarantino. Quinten Tarantino is best known for his exquisite violence. Violence is not Tarantino’s only water mark. The use of foul language is typical of a Tarantino film. These traits have created a new archetype that is unique to Tarantino. The rise of the blood crazed victim seeking revenge archetype has placed Tarantino in the eye of the public. Arguably “Djesus Uncrossed” is not a parody of Jesus, but rather of Quentin Tarantino, because Tarantino is the only person on the planet who would be capable of releasing a movie featuring the Prince of Peace as a ruthless murderer hell bent on revenge. Angry mobs however, seldom acknowledge the intentions of those insult them, and the typical response to religious criticism is a crusade.
Christianity is not the only religion that has fallen victim to satire in the popular media. The religion of Islam has been the subject of many debates in recent history and the response has been nearly as violent as Tarantino films themselves. There is controversy in Islamic religious teachings as to whether or not it is ok for the prophet Muhammad to be depicted in picture form. Regardless of the disagreement many people of the Islamic faith protested when a measly Youtube video portrayed the prophet, and likely for the same reason (2). Although their response may be deemed somewhat drastic, it is not entirely unjustifiable. When a comedian is criticizing a group of people because of their religion it is easy lable concepts such as heaven and hell to be made-up and not real, but to the people who are religious these things are very real. A negative to response to religious criticisms is so common becuase of the importance of religion in many peoples live. People believe that they have a guarantee that they will not suffer for an eternity and when a comedian calls that guarantee into question it makes sense for a person who has everything to lose to become angry.
This does not mean that religion is protected from criticisms.
Saturday Night Live is keenly aware of the fact that using the Lamb of God as their sanctified slayer might be offensive, but that is the purpose of the sketch. They wish to show that even the Holy Name of the All Mighty God is not exempt from being mocked.Even though religious people have so much on the line, observers still have the right to call question them like everyone else. Immunity from slander can quickly evolve into a seat of power. The human race however has been given a tool that can be used to deter potential misuse of power and that tool is art. Art is the protector of free will and the critic of mankind. The righteousness of true art transcends the sacredness of religion. Regardless of the context and taste of the skit, “Djesus Uncrossed” and skits like it are necessary to keep authority from becoming oppressive.
The first thing that tyrants do when rising to power is to imprison those who stand against them. The next thing they do is outlaw criticisms against them. The artist ensures that no one man or organization can aquire to much power. “Djesus Uncrossed” stands as a reminder that no-one, including the church, has the right to silence those who speak against them.
1 Alex Bauno, “How we did it SNL, “Djesus Uncrossed,” Alex-Bauno. May 7, 2013. http://www.alex-buono.com/how-we-did-it-snl-djesus-uncrossed/
2 Richard Esposito, Brian Ross, Cindy Galli. “Anti-Islam Film Producer Wrote Script in Prison: Authorities. “ ABC News. September 13, 2012 http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/anti-islam-film-producer-wrote-script-prison-authorities/story?id=17230609#.UFLmFK4dWVk
3 “Samuel L. Jackson.” IMDb. IMDb.com. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000168/>.
4 “Quentin Tarantino.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Tarantino>.
5 The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments, King James Version, Translated out of the Original Tongues and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised.Giant Print Reference ed. Nashville: Nelson, 1990. Print.