To say that religion is under attack in entertainment media sounds inherently conspiratorial. However, look back at all the instances in which the most revered beliefs of people are often belittled, particularly those of Christians, and it starts to sound a bit more plausible.
1. Smashing a Thug With a Religious Photographic Icon – The Departed
In Martin Scorcese’s critically acclaimed film, Billy Costigan Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) smashes a thug over the head with the glass picture of a Christian religious icon (perhaps Jesus but possibly one of the Saints) and then tosses the broken frame on the floor. Considering the high regard Christians likely hold that picture in, this can be fairly called considerably insensitive.
2. Using An Expletive to Refer to a Biblical Passage – Pulp Fiction
In Quentin Tarantino’s lauded film, Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) uses an expletive to refer to a passage from the Bible during the film’s epilogue. Interestingly, this is perhaps doubly offensive because the passage he cites, cited as derived from the book of Ezekiel, is actually a misattribution inspired by the old martial arts film, Karate Kiba. Tarantino would also later write an expletive in a church for Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
3. Using Religious Diction As the Backdrop to a Sex Scene – Watchmen
During a truly R-rated sex scene between protagonists Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Scepter II (Malin Akerman), director Zack Snyder felt that the appropriate soundtrack would be “Hallelujah,” a Leonard Cohen song that contains as much religious diction as a gospel, with even the term “Hallelujah” being found in both the Old and New Testament. Snyder will direct the upcoming Man of Steel.
4. Joining In On Collective Anti-Priest Sentiment – Doubt
The guilt of one individual does not condemn his entire religion and this universally acclaimed film does not even make said guilt certain, but with so many outlets seemingly intent on labeling priests the most horrid of things, perhaps the release of such a story at this time was an indication of a gang mentality.
5. PVC Killers Using Nun Habits and Crosses – Hitman: Absolution
Square Enix’s well-received action game depicts female killers donning nun habits as they battle the protagonist, Agent 47 (David Bateson). The assassins remove their habits to reveal PVC costumes, while still maintaining the crosses and nun headdresses. Agent 47 brutalizes the women, with camera cuts highlighting their thighs, buttocks and chests. A woman is strangled using a crucifix necklace, two ideologically opposed uniforms are juxtaposed in a manner offensive to both parties and the brutalization of women is sexualized.
6. Too Many to Count - South Park and Family Guy
Several other examples exist that also target other faiths. In the most recent episode of FX’s Archer, titled “Un Chien Tangerine,” the image of an entirely undressed male and the usage of coarse language are juxtaposed with the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer that mandates silent contemplation and appropriate garb for both genders.
Considering the fact that the writers were aware that the one reciting is called a muazzin, it’s hard to believe they weren’t aware that this is a highly exalted tradition that is separated from coarse language or immodest clothing, yet that didn’t stop them from merging the two.
Perhaps the worst part is that this trend of insulting people does not seem to be nearing its end. The Jewish people, whose highly respected tradition of Bar Mitzvah was placed alongside some less-than kosher imagery and lyrics in rapper Drake’s Grammy-nominated ”HYFR,” may be at risk of being insulted again in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, a movie based on the notably anti-Semitic novel of the same name.
The star of this upcoming film? The aforementioned DiCaprio, who once desecrated a religious symbol in The Departed and may be looking to belittle someone’s faith yet again.