Monday, October 19, 2009

David Benoit: Televangelist. (aka The Most Horrible Christian Fundamentalist Moment Ever)

Even John Waters is shaking his head...

(Imagine what he would be like if Jesus hadn't made him so compassionate!)

Benoit's impression of the burn victim the first time I watched the video was less funny than it was appalling (though it was still so appalling that I found it humorous). Subsequent viewings provided me with much more laughter -- laughter borne out of disbelief -- especially when I skip right to that section. It's hard to watch that scene completely isolated from its context without part of your brain insisting you're watching a comedy sketch. And as a sketch on why so many people loathe fundamentalist Christians, it would be tough to come up with something better.


Anonymous said...

I don't see what you find so humorous about him relaying the true story of someone's coming to Christ. Perhaps it's not the fundamentalist Christian you are loathing, it is you having to come face to face with your own decision to either accept or reject Him. Of course, I'm sure you would find it completely acceptable if you thought your comments would offend Christians where they would hack your head off with a dull knife. Oh wait, that's the radical Islamists, never mind!

Hectocotylus said...

The humor is not found in his message but in his delivery -- the way in which he chooses to express and relay his message. It's in poor taste to do an impression of someone with disfigured lips (for dramatic effect) when you're relaying their words, or to mention that the discharge coming off their hand almost made you vomit. It would be like recounting a story about a mentally disabled person while doing an impression of their voice, their manner of speaking, and mentioning off-hand that all their drooling was enough to make you sick. Regardless of Benoit's intent, it comes across as mocking and lacking in compassion for the suffering that befalls people on Earth.

As for your decapitation comment, I see no relevance. If you're saying that some fundamentalist Muslims are "worse" than some fundamentalist Christians, I might happen to agree with you (though some fundamentalist Christians have been known to shoot up abortion clinics and murder homosexuals). Fundamentalism, whatever its form, is rarely a good thing. Regardless, none of that has any bearing on this post.

Hectocotylus said...

To put it more succinctly: The humor comes directly from the conflict created by his "compassionate message" and the callousness of his delivery. Irony. And if we can agree that God and salvation are important and serious topics, we might then agree that Benoit's cartoonish, distasteful impression quickly juxtaposed with such grave subject matter is another source of humor. Bathos.

I realize your comment was likely a hit and run, but it got me thinking. After sifting through some of the atrocities committed throughout history in the name of God, I started to wonder what kind of parallels might one draw between the mentality that led innocents to be burned at the stake during the Salem witch trials (because they were "infected with the devil"), and the man Benoit speaks about who was burned on over 80% of his body ("the best thing that ever happened to that guy" because he was more or less infected by the devil and then became a believer). How far is it, I wonder, and how long does it take, to start from a mentality where you are 100% certain someone's disfigurement was the best thing that ever happened to them, and arrive at the notion that the Salem witch trials will be worth it if for no other reason than their publication will bring thankfulness and glory to God (as Cotton Mather said)? Benoit sets up his sermon on his belief that rock n' roll is a kind of magical power that will cause you to do "strange things" (in a sense, witchcraft), and he contrasts it with the kind of good "strange things" that Christianity will cause you do do. He sets up rock n' roll as the antithesis of Christianity, with its listeners as champions of the devil, even his followers. No doubt this mentality can be directly linked to a modern day witch trial: The West Memphis 3.