Monday, 28 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #137: Edgy Without an Edge

Time for one more of my pet peeves:

I just read a little mini-preview of the upcoming comedy
Hamlet 2 headed by British comedian Steve Coogan. The film is about a drama teacher who decides to end his tenure with a bang by staging an original and "politically incorrect" sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet starring a singing, dancing, and time travelling Jesus Christ, and the big moment is a musical number called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus."

That's when I tuned out.

And it's not that it offends me as the poor excuse for a Christian that I am, that sense of offense has been beaten into hard insensitive callouse, what really got on my one remaining nerve was over th
e laziness of the writing and the faux "courage" of the writers. Targeting Jesus and Christianity is the last refuge of the lazy comedy writer looking to be "edgy" without going to the trouble to come up with anything original, while avoiding anything that might upset the delicate sensibilities of the Hollywood elite.

I call it being edgy without an edge.

Sure, attacking Christians and Christianity isn't popular among the common folks, you know, the people who buy tickets and DVDs, but it's safe. You would be really hard pressed to find any writer or filmmaker harassed, imprisoned, or murdered for offending regular Americans. The regular Americans just tune them out, leaving only the lunatic fringe, and the professional grievance mongers to give a crap about them. And that's because of an unwritten and unspoken bargain between them giving the "offensive material" free publicity in exchange for their own publicity and the inevitable donations that publicity brings in.

Now some of you are probably asking: "Aren't you being hypocritical for being an irregular fan of
South Park, who use Jesus a lot in their show?"

Not really. I give South Park a pass because they work hard at attacking the sacred cows of the Hollywood elite, like the near religious worship of Al Gore, self-censorship in the face of Islamic radicalism, Scientology, and other controversial topics. To them it's not just a cheap shot, they, and by they mostly Trey Parker have some sort of point to make. And usually, Jesus isn't the target of the satire, but a rational, calm, and usually forgiving counterpoint to the self-righteous, hypocritical, loony, but sadly often realistic behaviour of the common mortals around him. So it doesn't offend me on either level, they've earned the right to push buttons.

Lately, when someone wants to be called "edgy" or "courageous" or "daring" they slap in Jesus. So you get him as a zombie hunter, zombie, vampire hunter, vampire, gay, womanizing, and for some reason related to French royalty. Every time I see a project like that I just have a vision of a writer/creator looking at their project and realizing that it's hack work, so they decide to slap in Jesus, not for any real creative/spiritual reason, but because it'll both guarantee them some praise from folks who think they're being subversive by all having the same attitude, and an excuse to cover the project's usually inevitable failure. They can say: "Those ignorant inbreds are just too dumb to get me."

The audience isn't too dumb to get you, they just don't care.


  1. The day they substitute Mohamed for Jesus is the day I'll give them credit for being "risk takers".

    Hell, I might even watch the movie.

  2. Are they deeming themselves "courageous" or are you just attributing that quality to them? Likewise, are they stating that the audience is "just too dumb?"

    I know little about the project, but it seems pretty closed-minded to write it off just because Jesus is referenced in a not-reverential way...

  3. I've just seen too many projects trying to be "edgy" and "politically incorrect" by tossing in Jesus jokes. I just find it a sign of lazy writing, and the usual total unwillingness of many of these same people to tackle any other controversial subject intellectually dishonest.

    And I once belonged to an internet forum for "indie" film types, and they'd rave about some piss-poorly made movie featuring a zombie Jesus, or Jesus hunting lesbian vampires as the most daring thing they've seen. But it's not, it's become boring.