[I’m going to continue posts about SxSW next week with a discussion of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I had planned that for this week, but I had also forgotten about Easter and all its sublime horrors—so we’re going to talk about that instead.]
There is something so indescribably delicious in finding imagery that is heretical, evil, just wrong. Images with a devilish sense of humor. Easter’s the greatest time of year for that sort of thing; what better holiday for heretical gems than a holiday that’s been reclaimed from the pious as “Zombie Jesus Day?”
I’m not entirely sure when Easter became the holiday of choice for heretics. My opinion is that it is a reaction to the sheer silliness of the combination of two conflicting religious traditions—the Christian Resurrection and possibly-pagan-but-we’re-not-sure German spring celebrations in honor of the Goddess of the Dawn, Ostara. In Germany, the Spring Hare brought eggs as a gifts to good girls and boys, as eggs are symbols of rebirth. I’m not clear on whether they thought the hares produced the eggs.
(What is it with Germans having all the best pagan holiday celebrations? Between this and Christmas, they got the party circuit all buttoned up.)
The pagan tradition became mixed with Christian Easter in Germany itself with the spread of Christianity, and continued in America upon the arrival of German settlers in the American colonies in the 1700’s, who probably wanted to honor their more pious colleagues (because it is not a good idea to piss off the next door neighbors when smallpox is around every corner).
Apparently the neighbors bought it, because nobody seemed to grasp the inherent horror of combining the visual traditions of a crucified man and a gaily-hopping bunny. It seems odd to me that nobody noticed how weird this was; you simply cannot tell me irony is a purely modern invention.
But apparently schadenfreude has a huge following in the modern Easter tradition. Hell, maybe the Easter Bunny is the patron saint of schadenfreude. Fitting that word’s German, and there’s no accurate English translation of it. It would seem that easily half the Easter bunnies produced these days are produced with at least a little intent at evoking a horrified gasp. Let’s look at a few!
One of my favorite people, John d’Addario, a native New Yorker long ago transplanted to the Faubourg Marigny of New Orleans, is a magnificent photographer. He captures these fantastic moments in NOLA’s culture that are really difficult to find (or understand) if you’re not intimately involved with the city.
Jonno’s a prolific photographer with an eye for the absurdly poignant, and has most recently added a set of uproarious photos from this year’s Marigny Bunny Hop to his Flickr stream. This is so typically New Orleans, at once sweet and horrible, celebrating tradition and heresy in one swell foop.
If you can find Jonno on Facebook as well, you’ll see some great video footage of a semi-drunk Christ/Easter Bunny hybrid looking for a bar.
Here’s a truly horrible bunny, one of my favorites from my own collection. (Well, actually, my mother’s. I stole him.) There’s no way this little bastard’s not hiding something. Who in their right mind would believe anything from the mouth of something so obviously engineered for seduction and deception? He continues to exist only because it pleases me that he live in a constant state of affection-starved need.
(Yes, those are original Swatch watches, and no, you cannot buy them.)
The following bunny is the reason this column exists (you’re welcome), and comes from emotionally damaged Print managing editor Caitlin Dover, who told me she was going to spend Easter possibly drunk and in the sugar-buzzed thrall of a “really insane-looking chocolate rabbit.” Then she dropped this bomb on me:
Holy Christ. I don’t want that rabbit anywhere near me. But apparently that’s the kind of self-inflicted pain Print staffers are into, so there you go. You can buy your own here. Do the world a favor and eat its face first.
Here we have some insane dancing bunnies cast in bone china and glazed by my friend Chaz Wilkin, who runs Automatic Art + Design. These little dudes are less overtly harmful, but still nuts. Chaz probably still has some of these for sale.
And I leave you with the most horrible bunny the world has ever seen, from Donnie Darko:
Happy Zombie Jesus Day. Or something.