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What Would People Think?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Various Controversies Involving Religion

So it seems conservative Christians are up in arms again about something on TV. No, they aren't complaining about something Green Day and U2 sang at the Saints game. (Anybody know where I could find a video of that performance?) And this time...I find myself in agreement.

VeggieTales is a really cute - and unabashedly Christian - children's cartoon series starring (you guessed it) talking vegetables. ("If you like to talk to tomatoes....." Oh great, now I'll never get that song out of my head.) (What? Why are you looking at me like that? I'll have you know that I have nieces and a nephew who are HUGE fans of VeggieTales. I've only viewed the show in the perfectly-legitimate-for-adults context of being the Good Uncle.)

NBC recently chose to run the previously video-based series on Saturday morning...and eliminate most references to God and Christianity. One of the show's creators and conservative watchdog groups are up in arms...and rightfully so.

How inane! What was NBC thinking? This isn't about religious tolerance. If NBC wanted something which appealed to a vast swath of the American public, regardless of religion, there's got to be dozens of quality (or not-so-quality) children's programming they could have chosen. Instead, they take a highly popular and creative cartoon which is based on teaching Christianity and Christian morals, and they gut the show of its very foundation. (Pardon the mixed metaphors.) Why bother?

On other controversial religious fronts: I'm sure you've read about the Pope's remarks at some conference which set off angry reactions among Muslims world-wide. He quoted a 13th century Byzantine emperor who called Islam "evil" and "inhumane." In response, we have the burning of the Pope in effigy and other such angry stuff.

For understanding of what the Pope was actually saying - ironically, a condemnation of religious violence, among other things - and how he might have handled this better to not set off a firestorm, see this excellent and informative debate between my colleagues Zhubin Parang and Matt Novak over at Zhubin's blog.


  • Ben: it's called youtube, and if it's ever been on television, you can probably find multiple incarnations of it there. (E.g. I finally saw Nirvana's full performance of Rape Me/Lithium last week where Novaselic's bass lands on his head and Dave Grohl keeps yelling "Hi Axl!")

    In an era entirely too awash with political correctness, it's hard to blame NBC for playing it safe, though I would tend to agree with the "why bother" stance. How I long for some well-known entity to do something not entirely P.C. and then just stand by it.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/26/2006 11:22 AM  

  • You mean kind of like what happened in Studio 60? That would be a happy day.

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 9/26/2006 11:53 AM  

  • What's Studio 60?

    By Blogger Ben, at 9/26/2006 11:56 AM  

  • Studio 60 would be the new television show from Aaron Sorkin, creator of "West Wing". I saw about half of the first episode - looked like it could be pretty good - but then I started softball so my Mondays went out the window. Oh well. (I take it they ended up standing by Judd Hirsch's rant, Matt?)

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/26/2006 8:43 PM  

  • Um, not really, but they were appropriately responsive to it. If that makes sense.

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 9/26/2006 10:04 PM  

  • I agree that it's stupid for them to censor the show. But on the other hand, that's what conservatives get. Their ever-present agenda to whitewash media is bound occasionally to bite them back. Had NBC run a show with similar support of Islam, and not censored out the religious references, you know damn well that conservatives would be calling the FCC, the network, the affiliates, and their Congresspeople.

    By Blogger Barzelay, at 9/28/2006 4:43 AM  

  • Actually Barzelay, I don't know that that's true. Maybe.

    One of the fascinating things about Veggietales is that, despite being ostensibly "Christian" they focus almost exclusively on Old Testament stories, meaning they should appeal to any of the 3 major western religions.

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 10/03/2006 10:24 PM  

  • Christianity, Judaism, and...?

    By Blogger Jeff, at 10/04/2006 3:48 PM  

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