Jesus H. Christ Vs. Anna N. Smith

The recent discovery of the possible final resting place of Jesus and his family in Jerusalem has brought up many questions. The main one I have is, “Is Anna Nicole Smith’s death more important that the death of Jesus”?

It appears that is the belief of televised news media. When I first heard the news about the tomb of Jesus (yes, that Jesus), I just caught the tail end of the story on one of the cable news networks. It seemed liked it was one of those “last stories,” in the slot normally reserved for those pieces that start, “And finally, a woman in Poughkeepsie has taught her six cats how to synchronize swim …”

And I think they even pulled one of those a-question-mark-absolves-us-of-all-legal-and-moral-culpability tricks with the “headline.” Normally it’s used in situations like “Britney Spears Shoots Heroin Between Toes?” This time I think it was something simple and kind of dismissive, like, “Jesus’ Tomb?

My first reaction was, “Whaaaaat?!” Isn’t this huge news? Like gigantic, cosmos-shaking huge? I was expecting more than a blurb or 15 minutes on Anderson Cooper’s show. Aren’t a LOT of people VERY interested in this little tidbit of information?

Couldn’t the news networks at least put together a package piece about what celebrities think about the discovery? It was perfect timing recently — all those Oscar attendees laid out on the red carpet, ripe for the asking. At the very least it would give the entertainment reporters a follow-up question to “Who are you wearing?” Aren’t you just dying to know what Paula Abdul thinks about the archaeological find?

But, as I was battling insomnia last night, clicking through the late night reruns of the day’s cable news shows, Anderson Cooper was the only one giving the Jesus story more than a passing mention. Larry King Live had more pressing matters to tend too — Anna Nicole is still not in the ground! And what about that baby! Larry has been talking with any and every person who had anything remotely to do with this slice of tawdry Neo-Americana.

MSNBC would go 24 hours with their Anna Nicole coverage if they could get away with it. During the sensationalistic trial over who gets the dead body, the increasingly frivolous network aired several hours of uninterrupted coverage from the courtroom. Literally, they put the rest of the news of the world on hold to bring us the mind-numbing story of a person who has now become the Jesus of the empty, vapid culture of “people famous for no reason.” Paris Hilton has got to be pissed.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ remains? Meh.

I’m not lobbying for more Jesus coverage because of my religion, because I don’t have one. But I think I understand the weight this discovery carries. I’m incredibly curious about what this actually means to Christianity. If the discovery turns out to be real, if Jesus’ body rotted in the ground instead of ascending to the heavens, is the religion debunked? Or will Bible literalists finally come around to the concept of the Good Book being a collection of fictionalized parables, a guide to living “right” that was created to give people a sense of peace in the face of inevitable death?

If it turns out to be legit (which seems to be debatable, though the reasons – the tomb was discovered earlier, but deemed either a phony or the resting place of another family of Jesus, Joseph, Mary, etc. – are sketchy at best), is Christianity as a whole threatened? Is the silence on the matter a result of panic? Is the media playing it down because of the perceived repercussions? Have the TV network news rooms received mafia-style visits from Cardinals? Is the Pope in the Vatican War Room? Will the Easter Bunny still come?

Thank, uh, goodness, for the Internet, because Jesus is getting about the same airtime as that overweight little British kid on TV. Is this at least not worthy of some serious public debate?

I’m assuming everyone is in a “wait and see” mode (unlike the celebratory roar that emanated from the Church after the Shroud of Turin, now largely believed to not be genuine, was discovered). But a couple of hours into the Anna Nicole coverage, there was no shortage of hypothesizing. “Howard K. Stern is an evil man, he (might possibly have, perhaps maybe) killed her and her son!” After watching 15 minutes of the news reports when Anna Nicole first died, I knew everything I needed to know about it. It should have been the “last story” of the broadcasts — the “squirrel that can water ski” piece. A blurb.

The Jesus tomb is even a better story from a journalistic standpoint (even by tabloid journalism’s standards). James Cameron, who only directed the biggest motion picture of all time, is involved with the project (the resultant TV special airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, followed by a “critical look” – i.e. backpedaling so as to not piss too many people off — with Ted Koppel at 11). Not to mention that Jesus is probably the most famous person ever. He was sexy in a heroin-chic, skinny Indie Rock dude kind of way. And look how he died. As they say, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Death by one’s own vomit doesn’t even come close to death by crucifixion.

I guess “cornerstone of trash culture” trumps “cornerstone of Western Civilization.” The Jesus story may not turn out to be true – but when has that ever stopped televised news media from overreacting?

Anna Nicole Smith died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.

— Mike Breen

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12 Comments on “Jesus H. Christ Vs. Anna N. Smith”

  1. Kenny Says:

    Funny stuff. I’ve also been wondering what it will take to knock Anna off the front page of tv news. War? nope. Britney? maybe. Jesus? not a chance. If He came back, would anyone notice?

  2. Spike Says:

    If we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior we will go to heaven when we die. If we believe Anna N. Smith has any relevancy in today’s society we are fools.

  3. McKracken Says:

    Uh oh. I’m not going to heaven, but I am not a fool. I’ll split the difference and call my life a success.

  4. Natasha Says:

    Mike, this post reminds me of how I was responsible for the death of Mother Theresa.

    The death of Princess Di was all the news, all the time. I finally got very tired of hearing about it and remarked to a friend, “You know, if Mother Theresa died, there wouldn’t be nearly the attention given!”

    Much to my dismay, it was only a few days later that Mother Theresa did, indeed, die.

    And guess what? Her death didn’t merit nearly the attention of Princess Di. Go figure.

  5. citybeat Says:

    That’s funny, Natasha. I forgot about that little bit of unfortunate timing. But at least Princess Di was, you know, a PRINCESS! Not some, um, er, whatever Anna Nicole was.

  6. Natasha Says:

    Ah, cb, in the us, with the absence of “royalty”, I could argue a case that our celebs ARE our royalty. Sad as that would be!

  7. Elton John Says:

    Uh… I don’t think there was an “H” incribed on Jesus’ ossuary.
    Let’s be Biblically accurate here.
    By the way, did you know the Iceland phone book is alphabetized by FIRST names?
    And Natasha,
    Don’t sweat it. Mother Theresa couldn’t hold a “candle” to Princess Di.

  8. Nasturtia Says:

    “H” stands for Hunk!
    Does he have a spiked do to die for, or what?

  9. Natasha Says:

    Hey Elton, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about that!

    Why in the hell didn’t you write a NEW song for Princess Di? I mean, she was royalty, right up there with the Gods and Goddesses.

  10. Marilyn Says:

    Ok folks. We have a couple of interesting choices in tv viewing this evening. At the same time “Jesus’ Family Tomb” is to be broadcast on Discovery, the History Channel is showing “The Dark Ages”.

    According to my sources, JFT is a rehash of an old excavation and not based on much fact; I choose to watch The Dark Ages.

    However, if I had Showtime, I’d surely watch Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”.

    Ah, so many choices, so few televisions.

  11. McKracken Says:

    I don’t doubt that this discovery could be fake or turn out to not be real, but I agree with the post about the Shroud of Turin thing. People jumped up and down about that being proof of Jesus, didn’t wait for “DNA evidence” or anything. But now, with this thing, it’s just being dismissed outright. And the reasons seem to be questionable at best, like the whole thing about Jesus, Mary and the other names being so common, it’s just coincidence that the exact possible family lineage was found in the names. That seems a little far fetched, considering it was found exactly where one might image such a tomb would be found. That seems to be the main argument, and if that’s all they’re going on, then I’ll keep an open mind that this thing could be real. I think if James Cameron wasn’t involved it would get more traction in the news. People use his “liberal, godless Hollywood” connection to demonize him and the project (not a first for the right wing).

    But I’ll probably watch Family Guy tonight. Priorities!

    I like the Patti Smith reference.

  12. Marilyn Says:

    So, ok. Because History Channel replayed The Dark Ages at 11:00, I was able to watch The Jesus Family Tomb and then The Dark Ages.

    I got exactly what I expected: JFT was fraught with hmmms, and maybes, and ah hell, probably nots.

    The Dark Ages was an interesting history lesson.


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