Today's Obsession: 40 Years of Sacrilege
There’s a lot of paintings of Laughing Jesus which I’ve seen since I was a kid, but never seen attributed to anyone. The images was used widely in punk imagery, mostly t-shirts. It seemed sacreligious to present Jesus in the context of a piece of pop, even more so to show him laughing—even though it’s probably actually not. My guess is that he’s rarely shown jovial because it runs counter to Chritianity’s emphasis on quiet introspection.
In 1999, Laughing Jesus became even more sacrilegious by being transformed into Buddy Christ, a thumbs-up, winking bro of a Christ, as depicted in Dogma, an early film from Kevin Smith.
Fast forward even further, and we get douchebag culture, as popularized in the States vis a vis Jersey Shore, but actually existing worldwide in much greater concentration, since dance music culture is so much more prevalent outside the United States. And, completely without relation, someone somewhere decides it’s hilarious to make Christ sacrilegious again by LOLing him.
Sometime during that period, A young man named Ansswa Murat and his brother are arrested in the Netherlands after being tracked down via a messageboard hosting pictures from their social media accounts. One of the photos clearly shows a phone number posted in a window of an office Ansswa is working in. The photos get a lot of circulation because Ansswa and his brother are fancy. Also tacky and ludicrous.
A year later, one of the pictures from that series of shots gets uploaded to Tumblr, caption, “Is that you, Guido Christ?” Ansswa doesn’t look so much like Laughing Jesus, or any sort of actual Christ, but a mockery of Christian iconography (I mean, seriously, look at the overblown decor in the background). If there’s a Jesus he resembles, it’s Buddy Christ.
Most recently, the picture seems to have been discovered again, and is now being used as a meme associated with LOLcats, in which Ansswa is captioned (with varying degrees of success) to pun on the notions of douchebaggery and Christ’s own activities.
Whew. What I love about this entire exercise is that it clearly shows how the creative human mind can ping-pong back and forth between totally unrelated concepts because they have one, small detail in relation. That’s just fascinating, that we can get from a drawing, to punk rock, to a film, to a joke image—all in the space of about 40 years. Intriguing.