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