Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Larry David and Religious Double Standard

Larry David, probably best known for creating and producing "Seinfeld," also is the creator and producer of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," a show that airs on HBO. Although I haven't seen an episode myself, I hear that it's much like the Seinfeld series, except not rated for family audiences.

In his latest episode, however, he may have crossed the line regarding religion. As an article on Fox News reports, in the recent episode David's character "visits a bathroom in his assistant's home and splatters urine on a picture of Jesus. Instead of wiping it off, David leaves the restroom. Minutes later, David's assistant enters the bathroom and concludes that Jesus is crying. She then summons her mother to the bathroom, where both women kneel in prayer."

It amazes me to see what passes today as art or humor. There has to be a line somewhere, right?

Not surprisingly, this stunt has prompted outrage from numerous religious groups all decrying a blatant double standard when it comes to how the Christian religion is treated as opposed to other religions, for example Muslims. Opponents assert that quite a different reaction would have ensued had the religious context been an image of Muhammad, or the Quran.

On the other hand, proponents of the show remind the viewers that it is satire, and intended to entertain. Further, they assert, if you may be offended by such things…change the channel. Is it as easy as that? Just change the channel and nothing bad happens, right?

Are Christians the unofficial whipping boy of the liberal-thinking public? Is there really a double standard in religion in America? If so, why? Aren't we a predominantly Judeo Christian nation? Does a potential double-standard play into the Gospel teachings of being a "peculiar people"?


john scherer said...

I think I recall an episode of Seinfeld where two Jewish characters get into hot water for making out at a theater while Schindler's List is playing. I don't think David is being blatantly anti-christian here and I don't recall anyone raising a fuss over the Seinfeld episode. Rather, it seems his style to be offensive. Not my cup of tea, but then again I don't have HBO.

Nate said...

Jews making out in a theater (even gay ones) versus peeing on Jesus...I see a difference, even if it is the same type of sentiment. One is sacrilegious, while the other is blasphemous. I don't think he would put down a picture labeled the "God of Abraham" and then pee on it.

Yes there is a clear double standard. Comedy Central wouldn't allow South Park to show Mohammed...after all that they have done, that is crazy.

I think the answer is a simple WWJD...I submit that his reaction would be dismissive but loving. It is the world we live in. The natural man would be angry and want revenge. If we are able to overcome that and feel saddened for the person's sake, we will become "peculiar."

Evgenii said...

You do not see such depictions towards Islam because the the media is legitimately scared of doing so. Why else would Yale Press refuse to publish the Muhammad cartoons in a book on cartoons? Typically Christians or Jews would get upset but rarely violent about it. I think most Muslims in the US would have a backbone about it but it would have a negative effect abroad. But if you ask your average Muslim in the US, they would probably be able to speak of double standards in real life though not on TV. They have it pretty rough.

Jew are usually not good to pick on for obvious historical reasons.

Christians are an easy comedy target because they are by far and away the largest religious group in the US and also very blatant about it (think Osteen and Warren). It's the obvious choice to offend when so many Americans, as well as immigrants, identify themselves as Christian.

I think it is tasteless but I see it as nothing more than targeting the elephant in the room instead of looking at as picking on the poor elephant who gets all the attention.

Anonymous said...

If you'd seen the show you'd know that David relentlessly makes fun of everyone, and is especially hard on himself. (Not that I'm recommending that you watch it.)

It is true that some devout Muslims are much too touchy about others' blasphemy (to say the least). Best not to emulate them.

Jeremy said...

Anon, thanks for commenting. The same can probably be said for shows like South Park (as Nate said) and Family Guy. Regardless of whether one degrades himself while degrading others and others' values, isn't there a point where one asks if what is being proposed may cross a proverbial line?

But, I guess that is what is fashionable today, eliciting the shock value of doing something that most find reprehensible.

Evgenii said...

Jeremy, it's not as if that has become fashionable recently. Shock value has always played a role in selling a product. Think of the yellow journalism that was rampant before WWII and the types of materials that were sold at the expense of Mormons. These days our society is more secular so the object of shock value has shifted to a group that no longer represents an area that we avoid. Societal norms I guess.

Unknown said...

I absolutely think that a line was crossed and that our society has completely lost a reverence for sacred things. Let me take the other side briefly to make the point though. It's preposterous, shocking and laughable that a piece of toast sold for $28,000 with a manifestation of the virgin Mary supposedly on it. No doubt comedians think that such demonstrations of "faith" are the height of humor and feel the need to reflect so-called-Christian society's absurdity back to them in a wake up call of "seriously, is this what it means to be christian? If that's what it is then, I'm out and you guys are crazy if you stay! Let's all laugh at the crazies together!" And to be perfectly honest, if I didn't know that God was real and that He had a true and living Church on the earth, I would be pointing and laughing right along with them. The main problem, as I see it, is such comedians/intellectuals throw the baby(real genuine spiritual manifestations and experiences) out with the bathwater(the fake, absurd, twisted experiences and manifestations some people call spiritual). And so they never become spiritual minded enough to have a real spiritual experience and continue mocking ALL others who claim such, whether genuine or false. "Fools mock, but they shall mourn" unless they repent of course. :)

twitterpated said...

Undoubtedly Christians are experiencing a double-standard. Picking on other religious groups is taboo, but picking on Christians is considered sophisticated, intellectual, and even educated. It all boils down to a heavy disrespect for the Lord. Reminds me of when Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice?" And we know what happened to him.

Russ said...

Hey Jeremy, did you say you HADN'T seen Curb Your Enthusiasm? Funny, how does one critique something one has no firsthand knowledge of?
I am wondering why you would even take the time to bemoan first something you've yet to experience?
GET A LIFE, self righteous imbecile.

Jeremy said...

Hi Stephanie. Thanks for your flattering words (i.e., "self righteous imbecile").

I would invite you to show me where I am wrong in my analysis. The point of the post was not necessarily to criticize "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but to question how Christianity is treated in media today.

And I would ask the same question of you - how can you critique me, when you have no firsthand knowledge of who I am?

Unknown said...