Apparently, within hours of its airing, Saturday Night Live’s recent send-up of American film director Quentin Tarantino, in the form of a Jesus who takes revenge upon his Roman executioners when he rises from the dead, had its critics, some of them calling it the single most offensive skit in SNL history.
And, to be sure, there is a lot in the skit to offend! The funny portrayal contrasts dramatically with a Jesus who teaches forgiveness of enemies and taking up one’s cross. The Jesus of the SNL trailer is more a poster boy for gratuitous violence and the NRA than a Savior of the world in Whom all creation finds reconciliation with its Maker.
That said, I’m intrigued. Why does a blasphemous depiction of Jesus in the service of humor incite such strong reactions? Why, for example, do we not react more to the violence itself, which in the spirit of Tarantino is on display here at typically pornographic levels?
I can’t help thinking, too, that the Jesus depicted in the spoof is the version of Jesus that the disciples themselves at one time would have asked for: the long-awaited Messiah who will conquer his foes once and for all in the only currency that most of us know; by force, with war, armies, and a bloody struggle.
I suspect that in practice this war-mongering Jesus is actually more palatable to many of us than the Jesus who lets His executioners crucify Him and asks God to forgive them- no matter that a war-mongering Jesus ceases to be God, who by definition, it would seem, does not need to defend Himself.
But, what do you think? Does the trailer cross the line, and if so, how? If you haven’t viewed it, here it is: