Petition to Remove Netflix Original Depicting Gay Jesus and Weed-Smoking Mary Soars Toward 2 Million
- As of Tuesday, a petition to remove a Brazilian Netflix Christmas special depicting a gay version of Jesus Christ and a weed-smoking Mary has attracted nearly 2 million signatures.
- An actor in the movie said Netflix has a right to air the film and said the streaming service is standing by it, making it unlikely to be removed.
- While originally drawing the ire of Brazilian politicians and pastors, the movie has since attracted international attention and criticism for its satirical adaption of Biblical figures.
Gay Jesus Netflix Christmas Special
A Portuguese-language Netflix Christmas show is drawing heavy criticism for its depiction of a gay Jesus and weed-smoking Mary.
“The First Temptation of Christ,” the 46-minute special released on Dec. 3 by the Brazilian sketch-comedy group Porta dos Fundos, also portrays Mary having an affair with God, the three wise men trying to pass off ham as “free-range soy,” and one of those wise men bringing a prostitute to a party.
Much of the criticism, however, has been centered around Jesus’ implied sexuality. In the film, Jesus comes home to Nazareth after walking the desert for 40 days; however, he also brings home a stereotypically effeminate man who is heavily implied to be his boyfriend.
While the movie stops short of any direct references, it includes several tongue-in-cheek moments such as this exchange:
“I was bathing in an oasis, and I was naked—” Jesus’ boyfriend says.
Jesus then cuts him off and says, “And then I asked for directions. I asked, and he gave it to me.”
His boyfriend then replies, “You bet I did. I sure gave it to him.”
Brazilian Pastors and Politicians Outraged
For its part, the filmmakers have described the movie as highly satirical, but unsurprisingly, it has nonetheless upset many people, including several Brazilian politicians and religious leaders.
On Twitter, Eduardo Bolsonaro—son of President Jair Bolsonaro—derided the movie as garbage and said it refuses to “preach the word of God.”
“We support freedom of expression, but is it worth attacking the faith of 86% of the population?” he asked.
Nearly two-thirds of Brazil’s population is Catholic, with protestants being the next-biggest religious group in the country.
Among a series of religious leaders speaking out against the film, Marco Feliciano, the head of the Brazilian legislature’s commission on minorities and human rights, said he wants the film removed from Netflix.
“Christians and non-Christians have asked me to take action against the irresponsible members of Porta dos Fundos,” Feliciano, also a conservative evangelical pastor, said. “It’s time we took a collective action, churches and all good people, to put an end to this.”
In fact, many have taken to signing a Change.org petition asking Netflix to remove the movie. That petition, which was posted a couple of weeks ago, hit one million signatures on Saturday. As of Tuesday morning, it has skyrocketed to just under 2 million.
Backlash Spreads Internationally
Part of the reason the petition has so rapidly taken off may be, in part, because the film has gained a significant amount of international attention over the last few days.
“I have cancelled my Netflix subscription after they decided to show a film about Jesus being homosexual,” British politician David Kurten said. “They can blaspheme Christ, offend Christians and insult Christianity if they want, but I sure as hell am not going to pay for it.”
Also on Twitter, a message directed at Netflix has attracted nearly 50,000 retweets since being posted on Saturday.
“BREAKING: @netflix released a show depicting Jesus as GAY?!” the message reads. “Let’s make this CLEAR! Jesus isn’t some “woke” culture experiment for you to convince young people that biblical teachings are “debatable”?! Jesus is the SON OF GOD and died for our sins! Show some RESPECT! RT!”
Others, however, noted that while they believe Christians have the right to be upset about the movie depictions of religious figures, Netflix also has a right to air the content.
“Netflix is within their rights releasing a movie about gay Jesus,” one Twitter user said. “Christians are within their rights protesting it. If Netflix removes the movie in response to protests, that’s within their rights. If they keep it up, that’s within their rights too. Isn’t free speech great?”
Others have criticized those who are largely focusing on Jesus’ sexuality rather than other depictions in the film, such as Mary and God’s affair.
Reactions from the Filmmakers and Cast
In spite of the backlash, the cast and filmmakers have defended the film, with the co-founder of Porta dos Fundos, Fábio Porchat, saying Netflix has a right to stream the film and that it supports free speech. He also said the film never incites violence or tells people not to believe in God.
“For some Catholics here in Brazil, it’s O.K. if Jesus is a bad guy, uses drugs: That’s no problem. The problem is he’s gay,” Porchat, who also plays Jesus’ boyfriend in the movie, told Variety in an interview posted on Monday. “No, he can’t be gay. And that’s interesting because Jesus is everything. God is black and white and gay and straight. God is everything. It’s more homophobic to be insulted by a gay Jesus than to make Jesus special.”
Porchat then went on to say that if any group should be angry, it should be the LGBTQ+ community because at the end of the film, Jesus’ boyfriend is revealed to be the Devil in disguise.
The actor who played God, Antonio Tabet, has seemingly taken a jab at people like Eduardo Bolsonaro who want the film removed from Netflix.
“It’s predictable that vain, opportunistic men who think they speak in the name of God, even without proxy, will want to mobilize the less enlightened around boycott or censorship campaigns. There’s always the option of not watching it, for those who dislike this content.”
On Twitter, Porta dos Fundos also joked about the situation by posting a link to a less-shared Change.org petition.
“As the petition against us picks up steam,” the group said, “We celebrate the success of yet another one of God’s creations: our Christmas special. ‘The First Temptation of Christ’ remains ever more powerful.”
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Washington Post) (NBC News)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (The Gamer) (BuzzFeed News)
Conservatives Pledge to #BoycottHershey After International Women’s Day Campaign Featured a Trans Woman
“I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too,” activist Fae Johnstone said in her Hers for She video.
Hershey Highlights Fae Johnstone
Step aside, Green M&M. Conservatives have a new candy that they’re mad at: Hershey bars.
On Wednesday, Hershey Canada unveiled its “Her for She” International Women’s Day initiative, which aims to celebrate “women changing the future.” Conservatives were quickly outraged by the company’s choice to highlight Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and LGBTQ+ rights activist, as part of this effort.
“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone said in a “Her for She” video.
In addition to Johnstone, the campaign features gender equality activists, a climate tech researcher, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom have fought for progress in their respective fields. The women will appear on Hershey’s websites, in marketing promotions, and in artistic renderings on Hershey bar wrappers.
Johnstone wrote on Twitter that she hopes Hershey’s campaign will “give more young women and girls role models” who can demonstrate how to “change the world, together.”
“It also means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone continued. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.”
A Swift Transphobic Backlash
This decision, however, prompted right-wing Twitter users to accuse Hershey of hating “real” women. Many of the posts included blatantly transphobic rhetoric, as well as promises to boycott the company because it went “woke.”
The outrage was so prominent that #BoycottHershey was one of the top Twitter trends on Thursday morning.
This backlash comes just a little over a month after conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson slammed M&M for making the green mascot character, well, less sexy.
In response to Mars changing the green candy’s outfit, Carlson accused the Mars company of making its characters “as unattractive as possible because when you’re intentionally repulsive, it’s clear you’ve got the right politics.”
Not long after the right-wing backlash, M&M opted to replace its “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph.
The conservative outrage targeted at both Hershey and M&M is part of a larger culture war against any company that makes changes to address diversity, climate change, or other social issues. Brands like Xbox, “Sesame Street,” and more have at one point provoked the ire of Fox News hosts and other Republican figures.
In fact, their outrage against these progressive changes has become so common that once #BoycottHershey was trending, some tweeted that they did not even have to click on the hashtag “to know that they must have done something compassionate that the right hates.”