Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t invent black Jesus

The entertainment business has been playing with the idea for years


Sacha Baron Cohen thinks he’s so controversial because his new movie, Bruno, includes a gay black fashion model who wears a crown of thorns and calls himself “Jesus.” Big deal. Even if you ignore the likelihood that the original Jesus wasn’t nearly as pale-looking as he is in your local art gallery, there have been plenty of movies, TV episodes and music videos where the entertainment industry has toyed with the idea of a black Jesus. So Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t just re-hashing Borat with his new film, he’s rehashing Madonna and Good Times as well.

1968: Woody Strode, the gentle giant from such Hollywood films as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Spartacus, stars in an Italian movie which the American distributor re-named Black Jesus. Strode is actually playing a character loosely based on the murdered Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, but the movie portrays him as a man who got tortured and killed for our sins at the hands of a colonial government. Even if the American distributor hadn’t changed the title, we’d probably have gotten the message.

1974: In the second episode of Good Times, J.J. Evans (Jimmie Walker) paints a portrait of an African-American Jesus that becomes his family’s good luck charm. Even though J.J.’s design for Jesus is based on the local wino (“No wonder his eyes are red like fire,” his mother comments), the portrait makes Christ look Dy-no-mite!

1989: In her totally non-controversial, Pepsi-approved video for “Like a Prayer,” Madonna goes into a church and sees a statue of a black man who may or may not be Jesus. Her magic touch brings him to life, and he kisses her on the cheek and walks out through the church door, helpfully marked “Exit.” Madonna was trying to make some sort of point about race and sexuality in America, but what she really seemed to be saying is that she can’t keep a man – not Guy Ritchie, not even Jesus.

1999: Kevin Smith releases his movie Dogma. For those of you who can’t tell Kevin Smith movies apart, it’s the one where there’s a lot of swearing and obscure pop-culture references. Also, it’s the one where Chris Rock plays Rufus, the previously unknown thirteenth apostle, who informs us that history has been rewritten to obscure Jesus’s race as well as the existence of non-white apostles. This was Smith’s last really successful movie at the box office, so we can assume that God endorsed this movie as heartily as He did the teaming of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.

2006: The Haitian actor Jean-Claude La Marre, a born-again Christian, writes, directs and stars in Color of the Cross, in which it turns out that every single thing that ever happened to Jesus–from his mother getting turned away at the inn to that whole crucifixion thing – was an anti-black hate crime. Despite mostly terrible reviews and lines like “You are not black enough, Jew!,” La Marre followed it up with 2008’s Color of the Cross 2: The Resurrection.

2008: Aaron McGruder has referred to the separate concepts of White and Black Jesus many times in his comic strip, The Boondocks. He attempts to turn the idea into live-action hilarity by producing a YouTube video series on his channel, Boondocks Bootleg. These low-budget videos feature Black Jesus sitting on a couch watching TV and saying the n-word a lot. Proving that the greatest miracle of all is that wealthy celebrities like McGruder can produce YouTube videos that are as poorly-made and pointless as any college student’s.

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Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t invent black Jesus

  1. Why is it so “funny” to disrespect Christianity? To take away from the message of Jesus Christ and the redeeming of humanity?

    Hey why not start making fun of such “halarious” events like the Halocaust, WWII, the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Is nothing sacred in this world anymore!!??

    The only thing “Pushing the Envelope” does is desensitize you and blind you to the true evil going on.

    Entertainers feel they can be smug and make funny at Christians because they can get away with it with nothing but perhaps a prayer for their disallusionment to God on their behalf from those they make fun of. Sure, it’s empowering and intellectual to point fun at people’s way of life that are different and you do not understand. It’s a darn shame, people look to the TV and Hollywood for pointers on what is funny and what is allowable to laugh at. It’s not violence that is a good indicator of societies values, it’s what the society finds humourous.

    But in the end of it all, none of this is a laughing matter at all. Humour itself can be a great healer, but in the other hand can be the most powerful tool of rejection and humiliation. Better to have someone strike you in a moment of suffering than to have that person laugh at you.

    God’s Wrath will not tolerate the use of his gift and Son, Jesus Christ, as some sort of comedy prop, mark my words!! You think the Muslims’ reaction to the picture of Allah in a newspaper was bad….

    Jesus is the embodyment of a covenant between humankind and God, through Him there is nothing that can come between you and God. Christianity is the acceptance of Him as a gift, That’s it, plain and simple, therefore it is not a Religion as a Religion is bringing you to God, Christianity is us letting God come to us…..

    • “Christianity is the acceptance of Him as a gift”

      Yeah, and if you don’t accept the gift – that you neither want, nor asked for – you’ll be damned to hell for all eternity.

      Uhhh, yeah, right, whatever. Keep your superstitions to yourself, please.

      • First off: “Uhhh, yeah, right, whatever. Keep your SUPERSTITIONS to yourself, please.”

        Do you think the converted Muslims/Hindus that are persecuted and killed RIGHT NOW in THEIR OWN communities (Darfur, Egypt, Congo, Iran, ETC.ETC) in the world do this all in the name of superstition? Do you think early Christians went knowingly to the crosses, lion’s mouths, the stake, etc. All because of something that they thought may or may not be true? They could have just gone back to the same-old same-old, Admit they were wrong and go back to day-to-day.

        The TRUTH is that when you accept Jesus into your life, the power of the Holy Spirit flows through your inner-being and envigorates you more than anything you could possibly imagine. Most likely more gripping than the death-rattle itself, but I can’t tell you that cause’ I haven’t died.

        I’m not some crackpot you know, I have a PEng from right here in Canada. I understand the scientific method and empirical modeling, etc And yes I can say I understand enough to understand I don’t understand anything….However science does not apply to this side of life. It’s like trying to use science to explain love, or where the laws of physics actually came from or the fact that there are laws in reality…

        You have no right, experience or proof to call the Bible a fictious fable.

        “Yeah, and if you don’t accept the gift – that you neither want, nor asked for – you’ll be damned to hell for all eternity.”
        What a greatly worded, commonly held and unfortunately ignorant statement. It’s not God’s fault that you refuse to accept Him. Hell in itself is complete and utter seperation from God. The Devil himself hasn’t even experienced Hell yet…..but that’s another story.

        God can’t be around sin, it’s like darkness and light, oil and water, and we all carry sin in some form or another, Jesus cleanses this darkness, forgiven indefinitly of all the wrongs we have and will do, nothing after that can come between you and God after that. When someone feels that for the first time……nothing can explain it. Proof lies in the acceptance experience from that first and on-going connection. Hence the expression “New-born” Christian.

        I guess the situatiuon is more as if you were drowning in the ocean and you reach out and grab the life-saver floating beside you. It’s not God saying take the lifesaver or die, it’s : you’re dying from your own free-will and God provided Jesus(the lifesaver) as a means to live.

        But….judging by your response you may have not read this far, if you have I strongly urge you to at least look at yourself deeply and determine why and where all this disgust comes from. Ask yourself why “Superstitious people” saying some blog post on Macleans makes you mad and worth attacking/belittling ; that JPM is the one to say who can post what and what opinion one can have?Because that is exactly the attitude that is wrong with this world, people with elitist attitudes think they are so smart that their way must be the best and only way.

        • May the flying spaghetti monster touch you with his noodly appendage.

        • You can’t say that there is no proof that the bible is fiction and claim to understand the scientific method within the same post. It’s one or the other, my boy.

    • Much of what you call disrespectful and taking away from the message of Christianity is important social commentary. I haven’t seen everything on that list but none of the stuff I have would qualify as bad art. Just because it doesn’t send the message the fundy crowd would like doesn’t mean its not valuable.

    • Jon, what is the "Halocaust"? Are you referring to the Crusades or the Inquisition?

  2. Why is Jesus being black an insult to Christianity? He was born in the middle east after all. It is very unlikely that he was tall with blue eyes and light brown hair.

    • “Bruno, includes a GAY BLACK FASHION MODEL who wears a crown of thorns and calls himself “Jesus.”