Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Daily Show’s below-the-belt shot at Christianity. From The Hollywood Reporter: Some conservatives are crying hypocrisy…over a segment on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart where the host flashed a picture of a naked woman with a tiny Christmas Nativity scene covering her genitals. The episode has prompted at least one group to call for a boycott of advertisers if Jon Stewart doesn’t apologize. Stewart’s intent during the segment in question was to ridicule Fox News Channel for not covering the GOP’s alleged “war on women” with the sort of zeal that it annually covers the “war on Christmas.”

Note: Actually at least two groups have registered protest against the so-called gag.

Brent Bozell writing for the Media Research Council said “Stewart thought he was being cute when he displayed a manger scene in front of a woman’s genitals to mock those allegedly ignoring the ‘war on women.’ If he’s such a daring political comedian, he should demonstrate his boldness by performing the same routine, but this time with a Koran and the Torah.”

Meanwhile, at the Catholic League’s website, group president Bill Donohue writes “We are asking Stewart to apologize. If he does not, we will mobilize Protestants, Jews, Mormons and Muslims to join us in a boycott of his sponsors. Moreover, we will not stop with a boycott; there are other things that can be done to register our outrage. We are prepared to spend the money it takes to make this a nationwide issue, and we are prepared to stay the course. Tomorrow we will have something definitive to say, one way or the other.”

Comment: I have to say as someone who rarely agrees with Stewart but is generally a fan of his comedy (he occasionally mocks his own side and his shots at conservatives are usually, at least, clever and with a point), I have to agree with Bozell and and Donohue on this one. Stewart and The Daily Show were way out of line here. While I certainly don’t encourage him to launch the same sort of insensitive, nasty attack on Islam or Judaism, I do call on him to apologize.

Christians, like any group, can sometimes to overly sensitive (a condition which, in my view, probably applied to the recent Three Stooges nun flap) but  there is a line between gentle, good-natured ribbing and out-and-out mocking. In my view, Stewart crossed it in this case.

I was brought up to believe that it’s important to have a sense of humor (especially about yourself) but it’s also important to show respect for the beliefs and sensitivities of others who are different than you.

And, Jon, as I see it, in this case you crossed that line between comedy that makes a legitimate point while still, basically, respecting those who view things differently than yourself and comedy that seems almost deliberately unkind. Comedy can be pointed without being cutting.  You usually achieve that in a way that, say, Bill Maher doesn’t.

I don’t think you meant to be unkind. I respectfully ask that you apologize. I think you’ll feel better for it.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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