Bozell Column: Easter Striptease and Chocolate Jesus

April 7th, 2007 7:36 AM

For all Christians, Easter is an outbreak of joy, a celebration of the resurrection of the risen Lord, marking the full promise of a savior unfolding like a spring flower.

For ABC, it’s just another night to sell sex.

During a Monday night broadcast of “Dancing with the Stars,” ABC promoted its Easter Sunday lineup, starting with an inspirational episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” So far, so good. But that’s where the good ended.

Then came the plug for a typical episode of “Desperate Housewives,” with one catty middle-aged woman saying to another, “I’m this close to seducing my gardener.” The other replies, “Been there, done that.” And at promo’s end, ABC showed another scene of the first woman – fortysomething, surgically altered Nicolette Sheridan – stripping off her blouse and skirt to reveal black lacy underthings as the announcer urged: “This Easter, take off your Sunday best, and turn on your favorite shows.”

It speaks volumes that the ABC entertainment network groveled before the homosexual lobby when one of the actors on “Grey’s Anatomy” uttered their unfavorite F-word about a gay cast member – in private, on the set – spurring ABC to proclaim its utmost “respect” for “differences.” But where’s the sensitivity and “respect” from ABC when their on-air promos mock tens of millions of American Christians who see Easter as a holy day, the very day one should least advertise the usual saucy Sunday night bed-hopping Olympics?

Sadly, ABC’s not alone. Take Comedy Central, always one of television’s leading mockers of Christianity. During “South Park” on Wednesday, this network of the Viacom empire showed a promo for Sunday night’s episode of “Reno 911.” While the word Easter was not used, the Easter plot promised a baptism. “An officer with a dark past finally sees the light, and then some,” proclaimed the announcer.

A sleazy woman comes to be baptized in the river in nothing but a sheer white robe, so when she gets wet, the screen is covered with black bars over her private areas. “Whoops-a-daisy,” she says of her thinly disguised nudity. “I didn’t know you had to bring underwear to a baptism.” As she then shakes and shimmies in the see-through wet outfit, the announcer promises “A revealing new ‘Reno 911.’”

It’s a televised version of the current fashion of mocking Christians and their celebrations for fun and profit. The newscasts just before Easter focused on a life-size, 200-pound chocolate sculpture of a naked Jesus in his crucified pose displayed at the gallery of the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City.

The artist, a Charles Manson-resembling man named Cosimo Cavallaro – can that really be his real name? – called his sculpture "My Sweet Lord," a cheeky reference to the George Harrison pop song. He even suggested people should come take a chocolaty bite out of his Jesus. The worst part of all this tweaking was the timing, which was no accident, mocking Christianity at the pinnacle of the Easter Season.

Cavallaro’s website shows his appetite for sight gags and publicity stunts which he defends as “art.” His previous works of oddity have including a bed covered with shaved ham, and an entire house covered with 10,000 pounds of melted cheese. Let’s not omit the letters “V.I.P.” spelled out in human excrement.

This was not the only Jesus sculpture in the news. In Chicago, a papier-mache sculpture combining Jesus and Senator Barack Obama, piggy-backed on the holiday season publicity. But in this case, the artist, 24-year-old David Cordero, is an agnostic Obama supporter who feels there are too many expectations surrounding his hero. His dean at the Art Institute of Chicago, no doubt instructing his student in the art of controversy, claimed the sculpture was not "a provocative work at all," but merely "opens a set of questions." Artists never mean to provoke or offend, merely open a thoughtful seminar, they insist.

In Florida, one gallery refused to display a version of da Vinci’s "The Last Supper" that featured dogs as Jesus and his disciples. Ron Burns called his painting "Dinner and Drinks With Son of Dog." Burns claimed ridiculously that he thought it was merely a “fun idea,” and “I wasn’t trying to be controversial.” The artist announced the painting would “fetch” a remarkable 65,000 dollars. He was featured on ABC News, and their anchors fit the ABC mold: they suggested it was a “whimsical riff,” an exercise in free expression.

Don’t believe any artist of TV executive who would tell you he wasn’t attempting to be controversial by opportunistically mocking Christianity when the Christian holy days approach. They are merchants of malice, out to make a of a killing.