There is a copious amount of controversy surrounding a video that actor Johnny Depp has helped put out recently. Although, he doesn't sing on the video, he does accompany the band. The song has attracted the attention of a few fundamental pastors and christians all over the U.S. and is slowly making its way overseas. But, why all the controversy? What's the big deal?
The song is entitled "Jesus Stag Night Club." The lyrics drip with poetic metaphor and historical revision.
What I don't want to do here is analyze the validity of the lyrics. What I want to do here is critique the negative press that is being received and analyze Christianity in light of its current state and why Christianity no longer has the option to change (it must not simply seek a new face, or post-modernise its words, or fall into some hipster caricature), but must seek the critical kernel that remains within it and invest in a broader context rather than be self-referential.
One pastor who has gained a lot of mileage in his attack on this video. Pastor Paul Begley who is a self-proclaimed prophet from Indiana shares his critique here. Make sure you check this out for context.
French Social theorist Jean Baudrillard stated that "the image is evil." But what did he mean by this, because what he means by this, I think is what will help us understand about fundamentalism (I speak of fundamentalism as broad as people and include those who would not naturally include themselves; practically speaking, if any of us are pushed into a corner, our fundamentalism will show). But here I am specifically dealing with and responding to Christian fundamentalism and how they have really given Christianity a bad name by attacking people such as the band Babybird and actor Johnny Depp whom neither of them deserve such a response.
Let's take the example of a secretary who works for a car repair shop. He comes in everyday wearing a suit and a smile, and never gets angry at customers. In fact, for all intents and purposes, he is the perfect employee. Except one tragic error: He is not who he says he is. This is the true fatality that most of us succumb to: the vulgarity of Baudrillard's image. The secretary is itself a role one must fulfill. To be a secretary, (depending upon the company and their ethos) I am being general here, one must have certain typing skills, phone skills and a previous customer service experience to name a few necessities. But these are roles, they are not the person.
The role itself disregards the very essence of the person filling the role. Not to mention it demonstrates that this person cannot think for themselves, that they are somehow upholding the Zizekian notion of ideology (which is stuck in an inverse of the Hegelian Dialectic). Which is to say, that they defend, uphold and support an entire of system of thought (without question, even if that system is against what they believe) because they no know other way. Even if that systems is inhabited (or justified in and through) by necessary evils (which is a misnomer). It is the curse of Sisyphus who can't seem to stop rolling the falling object back up the hill. To break the cycle means to begin to chip away at the very identity that the ideology gives you.
In fact, even worse, is what the image supports, which is for a car company who prides itself in customer service is capitalism. Consumer-driven capitalism. Individualism in its most evil representation. Now, here is the irony for pastors like Paul Begley and those who think they are defending some metaphysical notion of Christ -- they are supporting the very systems they want to be seen attacking. In their hope to "evangelize the world," they are driven by their subjective individualism. Not to mention they counter the radical kernel within the message of Jesus which was to embrace the outsider (as they were) -- and in essence in their fiery zeal (sarcasm in tow!) marginalizes the very people they hope to reach. Much like the secretary, the fundamentalists here support a much bigger enemy, capitalism under the guise of faith. Which is not faith.
An ancient Jewish author told the story of a person who would come against God. He used the word anti-Christ. It was someone or something (for me its not a person, but rather any system in place) who would come to attack the very idea of God. One way to see God is one who supports and endorses the whole of humanity working together. One German philosopher (Hegel) defined the Holy Spirit as the Human Bond. If he was right, then the moment we attack one another, rather than the systems in place is the moment we (any person, a follower or not) become anti-Christs, oppressors, terrorists (ideological ones), and supporters of the very antithesis we are defending ourselves against. The point here is to remove the clothes and stop being the secretary.