Stewart Lee Speaks

One of yesterdays articles in the papers about Jerry Springer: The Opera, that I missed until this morning was Stewart Lee (the writer of the show) defending the decision to broadcast. There are a couple of points that I thought were worth highlighting. Firstly, he and Richard Thomas, although being out of the country at the moment, had decided to keep a dignified silence over the broadcast, until he had started to recieve personally abusive e-mails, at which point he has chosen to defend the show.

Secondly, with regards to the content, and the use of Christian Theology he says the following:

“There also isn’t space here to explain the show’s much-criticised appropriation of Christian theology – as a former C of E choirboy with a B in Religious Studies at A-level, I feel almost over-qualified to defend our position.”

To some extent I think it is a bit of a shame that he doesn’t have the space, as from his background it would be interesting to hear. It reminds me of the arguments over “The Last Temptation of Christ” in that with that movie both the author, and the director of the film were Christian, and felt they were exploring important themes, but again were campaigned against by large parts of the Church most of whom hadn’t seen it, and were taking elements out of context.

What is concerning over this whole episode is the picture of parts of the Church it gives. What is of particular concern is the threats made against BBC executives, and Stewart Lee himself. Christian supporters of the show have been unwilling to come forward for similar reasons, as this article from Ekklesia says after quoting from an unamed Christian commentator:

“Christians who see some merit in the show and who oppose banning it from late-night TV have told Ekklesia that they do not wish to be named because of what one described as “the unhealthy climate of abuse against dissenters stoked up by moral panic tactics.â€?”

This is also backed up by posters to the heated discussion about the show at Ship of Fools (currently running to 7 pages). The comment below describes the responses recieved by someone who refused to complain, and explained why.

“For the record, I’ve now received eight unsolicited round-robin emails from various ‘Christian’ groups (including MediaWatch which rather goes against their claim on the News this evening that the complaints sent to the BBC were unorchestrated) asking me to complain. I’ve replied to all of them saying why I think they are mistaken AND that I don’t care to be associated with them. The result: three no-replies, two ‘I will pray for you to see the light’, one sensible reply, one you are an idiot type reply and one which says in total ‘Fuck you you catholic blasphemer. I look forward to watching you and all your fag friends burn in Hell at the Day of Judgement’. “

In that ilk, the website of Christian Voice, the organisation who appeared on News 24, and are prime movers in the campaign also makes for pretty worrying reading in places.

The situation in the USA of course is much more serious, with people calling themselves Christians advocating and committing murder against abortion clinics. This from a faith where the words of Jesus are all about peace and love!

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