Friday, March 29, 2013

Getting upset about stereotypes

Jesus in the History Channel's miniseries "The Bible"

Our friend Adele Banks of Religion News Service has written an excellent news report about Satan being portrayed as dark-skinned in "The Bible" miniseries on the History Channel.

Satan in "The Bible"
There are those who think Satan was made to look like President Obama in the miniseries (and it is hard not to see a resemblance), but Stephen Thorngate, an associate editor for Christian Century, says the resemblance to Obama is not the main point.

“Just don’t give the ultimate good guy fair skin and the ultimate bad guy darker skin,” he said. “We’ve been down that road too many times before.’’

Professor Cain  Hope Felder of Howard Divinity School also weighed in. 

“It’s unfortunate that the producers of this show made this terrible error,” Felder said. “They either should have taken Satan off the screen entirely and just had a voice or something. Or if you’re going to use him, he should certainly not have been black.”

I suspect using a dark-skinned person to portray Satan was subconscious and not intentionally thought out on the part of those who cast this series -- which actually makes it all the worse.

Associating light-skinned with benevolent and dark-skinned with evil is, if not itself evil, at least pretty bad.

What do we need to do to get all of us to think twice before we act on our subconscious ... well, how do I say this? ... our subconscious, uh, racist (frankly) associations?

We need the kind of reaction that will cause all of us to think twice before we do something to perpetuate this harmful stereotype.

Kudos to Adele for an important article.    

1 comment:

  1. You are actually kind to the producers of this show. Wake up people. Only the most white- privileged endowed Christians would have slept through the casting call. Even the Vatican has an olive image from the Shroud. Admit it. White supremacy is alive and well in Hollywood, ergo the USA Christian worldview. I cry every time we miss a chance to reflect the reality of the context in which the bible was birthed and penned.