Thursday 22 December 2011

Praise Be to Tim Minchin

As you probably know by now, Tim Minchin's wonderful Woody Allen Jesus song got cut from tomorrow night's Jonathan Ross Show by the timid, over-sensitive, short-sighted, poo-in-their-pants compliance monkeys at ITV. It's the perfect example of what I wrote about in this blogpost - that people without faith are apparently not allowed to express an opinion or crack a joke without some scaredy-cats assuming that the faithful will take it as an personal attack on their beliefs. And I stress the word 'belief' - believing or not believing in God is a choice. It's not a law.

I don't believe that there is a god. I have no problem with other people believing that there is a god. I have some very close friends who have faith. Live and let live. But I often feel like a second-class citizen because my belief (or lack of it) is apparently less important than a religious person's belief. If Tim hadn't got hold of the footage and released it, I'd have been denied the chance to see his performance. Why should I have to forego that pleasure?

There's an easy solution to this that would suit everyone; I suggest that TV shows put up a 'People of faith - Look away now' warning on the screen. Why not? They do it for sex and violence and football results.

But putting all that to one side, there's the song itself. There is nothing obscene, threatening or illegal in the lyric. It pokes gentle fun at the attributes Jesus is purported to have had and then compares them with people and characters from modern popular culture. It's a little light satire. It's not a rabid Dawkins follower screaming that all gods are nonsense and that anyone who believes in one is an idiot. I guess some might say it's disrespectful. Really? No less disrespectful than the street preachers who yell at me when I'm shopping surely? They actually tell me that I'm headed for Hell, damnation and eternal torment. Nice. Then there's those people who knock on my door in smart suits and won't take 'Sorry I'm atheist' as a polite indicator that I'm not interested in their literature. At times I have to be borderline rude in order to convince them that I am a lost cause. How would they feel if I turned up on their doorstep and insisted that god does not exist? Ah, right. That would be me being insulting and religiously intolerant I suppose.

Was Tim Minchin's song really so bad that it had to be pulled off air? Judge for yourself:

Tim, meanwhile, says this (Note: These are Tim's words, not mine):

'ITV's director, Peter Fincham, demanded that I be cut from the show. He did this because he's scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way. Yesterday I wrote a big rant about comedy and risk and conservatism; about the fact that my joke has no victim; about sacredness (oh God, not again!) and about the importance of laughing at dumb but pervasive ideas. But I trashed it because it's boring and takes it all too seriously. It's hardly the end of the world.

But I have to admit I'm really fucking disappointed.

It's 2011. The appropriate reaction to people who think Jesus is a supernatural being is mild embarrassment, sighing tolerance and patient education. And anger when they're being bigots. Oh, and satire. There's always satire.

I hope you enjoy my silly, harmless, accurate song of praise, Woody Allen Jesus. And I hope you all have wonderful Christmases.'

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