Quentin Tarantino’s hit film “Django Unchained” has been a cause of great controversy since it opened in December, with everyone from Spike Lee to Matt Drudge calling it racist, offensive, exploitative or all of the above. Now a similar controversy has been kicked off by a Saturday Night Live parody of that movie.
SNL last Saturday, in an episode hosted by ‘Django’ costar Christoph Waltz, ran a pre-taped comedy sketch called “Djesus Uncrossed.” A parody of both ‘Django’ and Tarantino’s previous film, “Inglorious Basterds” and in the style of Tarantino’s work, the film features Jesus of Nazareth (played by Waltz) rising from the dead and “kicking ass,” exacting violent revenge against Judas, the Romans and all else who wronged him.
I found the sketch hilarious because it was such a note-perfect parody of both Tarantino’s visual style and the formula used by both ‘Django’ and ‘Basterds’- a revisionist historical drama about a very controversial and tragic subject, in which those who were wronged enjoy cathartic, bloody, crowd-pleasing revenge, extremely ahistorical as it may be.
SNL’s Jesus, or (“Djesus”), let’s not forget, is the hero of this little story, and I believe theological scholars are unanimous in their belief that it didn’t happen the way it does in the below clip:
I loved the sketch and it went viral in a way that few SNL bits this year have.
Others disagree, however. The Concerned Women of America- who, as always, are very, very concerned- blasted the sketch as an example of SNL “going out of their way to mock Jesus Christ and Christianity during our most important religious season.”
The story was also all over the Fox News rotation by the end of the weekend, with the “what if it was Muhammad” question rearing its ugly head multiple times. And Twitter was full of declarations that NBC’s decision to air the bit was of a piece with NBC News’ nefarious liberal and anti-Christian agenda.
Would the sketch have offended me if I were a believing Christian? It may very well have. But I thought it was pretty clear that the target of the mockery was not Jesus or Christians, but rather Quentin Tarantino. And once again, Djesus was the hero. And I’m fairly sure the SNL writers room doesn’t get political talking points from corporate before they sit down to write jokes.
“Djesus Unchained” reminded me a lot of the “Gandhi Two” movie parody from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s movie “UHF”: Depicting a famous pacifist as a heroic, butt-kicking badass was part of the joke- the best part, in fact. No more Mr. Passive Resistance, indeed.
And you must admit:”not as violent as ‘The Passion of Christ’”? That’s a great line, and accurate, too.