When low-grade offence offends
Posted on 14 July 2010, 4:19
The past week has been a pretty good time for images intended to shock religious people – and religious people have been performing their expected role faithfully.
The publishers of the Portuguese edition of Playboy put Jesus on this month’s cover (above, with black strip to protect the identity of the female model, ha ha), and were sacked by Playboy USA for their trouble. Presumably, Hugh Hefner is worried that the image will damage sales of the venerable porn mag among fundamentalists, which must be considerable.
And in Moscow, the curators of Forbidden Art, an exhibition of satirical art pieces which other galleries refused, were fined 350,000 roubles (that’s £7,500) after a two year trial supported by right-wing groups connected to the Russian Orthodox Church. The exhibition included a crucifixion with Lenin’s head replacing that of Jesus, an icon of the Mother and Child filled with caviar, and Jesus next to the golden arches of McDonalds with the slogan, ‘This is my body’.
Not great art, but also not great offence. And anyway, when did Christians start thinking they had the right to stop people offending them, or for ‘blasphemy’ to be treated as a criminal offence, instead of using events like this as a trigger to discussion about faith? Probably as far back as AD 313, when Constantine converted and the Roman Empire became ‘Christian’.
It’s alarming to see the Russian Orthodox Church with real power in its hands again, and it’s a reminder of how ugly church can be. To see some of the Forbidden Art exhibits online, visit the Russia! blog.
Hm. Why do you say that the Playboy thing was intended to shock Christians? I agree with your conclusion (with regard the ROC), but since when has it been ok to smear the high value of freedom of speech with less than clever hype-grabbing? At least Piss Christ was not trite.
lauri, Wed 14 Jul, 15:03
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