- 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)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”