Sep 24, 2007

Kathy Griffin Dissed Jesus?

When Kathy Griffin won an Emmy last week for her reality show, The D List, she said in her acceptance speech: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. This award is my God now!"

One Christian theater company scolded her in a full-page ad in USA Today. According to the general manager of the Tennessee Miracle Theater, "When word reached our cast that a Hollywood celebrity had stood before TV cameras and said such vulgar things about Christ, they were incensed. It's just not OK anymore to mock Christians and Jesus with impunity."

Kathy responded, "Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?"

No, Kathy you're not the only Catholic with a sense of humor. But you could count the number evangelicals with senses of humor (at least the ones who’d watch your show or understand your irony) on a single frostbitten, gangrened hand in a South Pole winter.

True, her remark was a bit outré. True, Christians are made fun of a lot in Hollywood. Jesus, not so much, but Christians definitely, with jokes that, if you made them about an African American or a gay or an autistic person, you’d get fired. Just ask Isaiah Washington.

But maybe the members of the Tennessee Miracle Theater didn’t quite understand the joke. Or Kathy Griffin. Or Hollywood. Or Hollywood’s idolatrous worship of awards and fame.

So in the verbosity of postmodern hermeneutics, let’s unpack this.

1) Did Kathy make a vulgar remark aimed at The Savior?
Vulgarity is defined as "crude, common, conspicuously and tastelessly indecent, usually referring to language, gestures or expletives." You know, your average teen blockbuster like Talladega Nights/ Wedding Crashers/Superbad. Which, God-fearing Americans went to see in droves. Kathy’s remark may have been ragged, but I don’t remember hearing vulgarity. All I heard her say was that Jesus had nothing to do with her Emmy. And since her show is coarse and R-rated, wouldn’t polite Christians be pleased that she absolved Jesus of any involvement in it?

2) “This award is my God now!”
Given Hollywood’s obsession with awards and awards shows (Oscars, Emmys, MTV, VH1, Americas Choice, People’s Choice, American People’s Choice) Kathy spoke gospel truth: that Hollywood worships fame. And let’s not leave out the rest of the Christian-God-fearing America, that has turned American IDOL, Dancing with the Stars and America’s Next Top Model/Nanny/Trump Clone into ratings hits.

3) Not thanking Jesus for her award
Haven’t we all seen some celebrity thank God an award, meanwhile they're sleeping around, into drugs or guns? Gangsta rappers who thank Jesus for their grammy. Or Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, and their PASTOR DAD who’s pimped them into objects of sexual idolatry? And then Thanked God for their success? GROSS.

My friend Russ told me about a seminar at his church last summer. The leader asked the participants to invite a non-believer to come and tell the seminar what they thought was wrong with the Church. Everyone who was invited, came to speak. They were vulnerable and honest. One man said, “I'm tired of the church telling me what not to do ... ‘don't, don't, don't.’ I want to hear what you want me TO do.” What troubled Russ the most was how many people mentioned the hypocrisy they perceived in the church. Of course, hypocrisy is a flaw of human nature, it's not limited to religious people. But we of all people should be above reproach.

In his book, Simply Christian, NT Wright points to things that all human beings long for: justice, transcendence, beauty, and relationship. Those are the points where we can engage others -- find our commonality -- because every human being desires them. And if we are telling the story of God and what Jesus did so that we can experience transcendence, beauty, justice and relationship, people might not think first of hypocrisy when they think of the church.

I was in the Groundlings Sunday Company when Kathy was in the Main company. I remember her as a talented, abrasive, tough, funny, hard-working broad. Most comedians have a lot of pain in their lives, and humor is how they got through it. The insanity of the entertainment business makes them even tougher. Maybe that's Kathy's schtick. But her show The D List beat out all those other vapid, soul-killing reality shows like "The Hills" and "Laguna Beach." So to that I say, hoorah.

Kathy's show exposes the idiocy and hypocrisy in the entertainment business. Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders. So my guess is, Jesus appreciates Kathy doing the same. Her remark may still be offensive or coarse to some.

I wonder if rather than taking action against her , we might want to send some love and grace. Let's think of how Jesus would want to approach her. If you’re stumped, take a look at the initials on that bracelet you bought at the Maranatha Everlasting Word Bookstore /Coffee House/Build-A-Christian-Bear workshop. “W.W.J.D.?”


Ted and Lori said...

I'd heard the to-do going on about Kathy's offensive comments, so when I heard them myself, I had a similar reaction as you had. The points you made about what she was actually making fun of are exactly right, and I just sort of roll my eyes at the people out there without a sense of humor. You made really good points here.

Stephanie said...

I am related to lots of people who also apparently "got saved" from their sense of humor. Poor things ... their lives are so damned EARNEST all the time! It's exhausting! Everything matters, and it all matters all the time in every way. (ugh) My husband calls them Everythingists.

Ivey McCoig Creative Partners said...

"in the verbosity of postmodern hermeneutics, let’s unpack this..." is one of the most gorgeous sentences I think I've ever read. OK, so it isn't a REAL sentence, but it. Is really. Good.


Seriously, it's nice to see, hear, read and share the same sense of whatever you want to call it with a believer (that's you) who "gets it" on such a real, realistic and applicable level.

Never mind. Nice post.

Brad said...

I find what she said to incredibly ironic, as Jesus claimed that before the world was, "he is," implying that he was the same Creator written of in Genesis... implying that he was God.

And as Jesus claimed to be God - the God believed of by Jews and Christians for centuries, he would also have been claiming (and certainly, believing) to have everything in his hands: time, space, energy, the past, the future - even Kathy's award. *By the way, my congratulations to Kathy on the award... that's really cool, and I think she deserves it.

And if Jesus really was who he said he was - and/or even if he wasn't, but only a "good" person, I don't think he would have cared about what she said to him one bit. He probably just would have approached her, told her something about her and/or himself that would've blown her mind, and then somehow expressed his and his Father's absolute love and compassion for her in a way that would have changed her life forever... at least, he seemed to do this to anyone else who was in a similar position to Kathy - like the woman at the well.

These were my initial thoughts - b

Lisa Milton said...

I just around to reading this one - bravo.

Just a big resounding yes...

Matt White said...

phew. i thought there was something wrong with me for NOT being offended by KG and actually thinking that remark was pretty darn funny. glad you feel the same way...

Erik said...

Kathy. That there is one crazy women. My wife loves her show, me, not so much. I can't stand the lady to be honest. But, my wife DVRs the show... just incase she can't get to it in time.

Anyway, you did make some great points about the whole uprising. I liked them all. As much as I do not like her.

J. R. Miller said...

Hey, just came to your blog today as a friend of Richard Chew from his PSU days. LIke your post because most people missed the things you talked about. My own take on it was to thank Jesus for Kathy.

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