Conservatives bash Comedy Central's Jesus show
Bad-boy network Comedy Central, which has been looking more like a milksop in a little Lord Fauntleroy suit since it censoring episodes of "South Park" last April, got a much-needed jolt of cred restoration Thursday when some conservative leaders got their panties in such a bunch about a new show it has in development they staged a news conference.
The project, "JC" may never make it to the network's lineup, but the coalition of media watchdog groups have formed the Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB) in response to the script that has been ordered and which none of them have read. The coalition includes the Media Research Center, radio talk show host Michael Medved, the Family Research Council, the Catholic League, the Parents Television Council, and the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
Back in late April, Viacom-owned Comedy Central censored the 200th and 201st episode of its animated show "South Park" to take out all references to Muhammad after a radical Muslim group warned that the show's creators could wind up dead for the portrayal.
Among the things censored was a speech about intimidation and fear, also blackened out with a bar was an image you supposed to think was Muhammad hiding out in a bear costume but which turned out to be Santa Claus. Comedy Central censored it anyway.
Two short weeks later, Comedy Central told advertisers it had ordered a script from which, if it liked the results, it might develop a half-hour animated show "about JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy. A lot has changed in 2000 years and he is the ultimate fish out of water. Meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city. 'JC' is a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb."
"This animated show is designed to mock and... ridicule and... be offensive to Christians," Media Research Center president Brent Bozell told reporters on the call. "At this point we say 'Enough is enough!' We know they're jumping up and down with glee, feeling they're getting all sorts of publicity because of our efforts," Bozell said of Comedy Central with what we suspect is perfect accuracy.
"But we're not going to remain silent on this issue any more!" he added.
Because there is no footage of the actual show, CARB made a four-minute video mash-up, a sort of Comedy Central Lack of Respect for Christianity Hall of Fame.
The video included: a cartoon pope shoving a man off a boat when he begins to talk about Scientology; Sarah Silverman having sex with god, a cartoon Buddha accusing Jesus of watching internet porn; a cartoon Jesus being stabbed in the neck with a knife; a cartoon Jesus slicking the pope in half with a ninja star after declaring, "One man cannot be the voice of the church"; cartoon Jesus defecating on an image of George W. Bush; and a cartoon Virgin Mary menstruating.
"This should give you a good flavor of why we are so outraged," Bozell said of the show that has yet to be made after directing the reporters to CARB's web site to watch the video.
They've sent letters to more than 250 advertisers asking them to state they will not advertise on the show they have yet to see. In mid June, the coalition will release the names of the advertisers who have declared they will not sponsor a show they have not seen, Bozell said.
Each man on the CARB panel got his turn at the microphone. It was one of those long-ish phone news conference calls:
"The first point is the question of double standard which is patently obvious," Medved said in re the censorship of "South Park" after the "warnings" of violence.
"Do Christians get punished because they aren't crazy, because their religion doesn't encourage...acts of violence?" Medved fomented. "Try to imagine this wasn't called 'JC' imagine it was called 'The Big Mo' and was all about Muhammad, and maybe move Muhammad to New York and he's a camel driver, and all of a sudden he goes, not into a cave as he did outside Mecca, but into a basement in a building and an angel was dictating words to him, and he marries a nine year old."
"Let's say someone was preparing a cartoon called 'The Greedy Goldberg' and recycled... all the ancient and disgusting stereotypes," Medved continued, on a roll. "The hooked nose...the greedy banker...and worshipping a cruel, funny, stupid religion."
We'll leave Medved and his show pitch meeting with himself, and move on to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League:
"I think they're doing this as a trial balloon to see what the reaction will be," he said.
"I don't get involved in boycotts unless I think I can win," Donohue boasted, reminding reporters about that time in 2006 when he and Bozell got together to tell NBC suits that if it aired the mock-crucifixion that was part of Madonna's concert tour they would choose one sponsor from that broadcast and launch a boycott of that advertiser.
"I like the sniper approach," Donahue continued. "I like to pick them off, one by one. You can't boycott against 10 or 15 or 100 sponsors, but you can one-by-one."
"To exclude to only Islam" from your comedy "is a sort of pathetic amalgam of hypocrisy and cowardice" chimed in Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of The American Alliance of Jews and Christians. Claims on the network's part that they stand up against censorship "lose all credibility" he said of the cable network.
Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, used the occasion to protest the lack of a la carte cable choices for viewers. "It's unconscionable we're forced to purchase cable channels we don't want, don't' watch, and may find offensive," he said.
Viacom, he noted, requires viewers to purchase Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Spike, in order to get Nickelodeon, all of which Viacom owns. "Comedy Central has the right to offend me. They do not have the right to force me to pay them to offend me."
This phone call, and CARB members, were getting very off-message. Bozell jumped back in to wrangle them back into line, informing the reporters in the strongest possible terms that CARB is not, repeat not, organizing a boycott of the network, or of Viacom which also makes movies.
"The purpose of this coalition is to make contact with the ad community. I don't think at the end of the day there is a need for a boycott."
Comedy Central is confusing "Christian civility for weakness," chimed in Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who arrived a little late to the call.
He acknowledged that most of those who are concerned about "this type of open mockery probably don't watch Comedy Central."
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