- 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)
D.A.R.E. Accuses HBO’s “Euphoria” of Glorifying Drug Use
The organization believes the drama series could have “negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.
D.A.R.E. Slams “Euphoria”
HBO’s “Euphoria” has become synonymous with its explicit depictions of teen sex, violence, and addiction. The substance abuse awareness organization D.A.R.E. condemned the series for its lurid content, arguing that it glorifies drug use.
While drugs can weasel their way into any aspect of the show at a moment’s notice, the primary storyline around addiction follows Rue, a high schooler who often resists the help she needs to recover. Zendaya won an Emmy for portraying the struggling protagonist in 2020.
D.A.R.E., also known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, told TMZ on Wednesday that “Euphoria” is reckless in its handling of such weighted subject matter.
“Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world,” a representative for the group told the outlet.
“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges,” the representative continued.
“Euphoria” Cast and Creator Speak on Heavy Subject Matter
Ahead of the season two premiere, Zendaya warned her followers that much of the content in “Euphoria” is not suitable for all viewers.
“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” she wrote on Instagram. “This season, maybe more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable.”
Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” has been open about his own experience with addiction. Now over a decade sober, Levinson struggled with substance abuse as a teenager, much like Zendaya’s Rue. He feels a personal connection to the story, and therefore, a responsibility to honestly represent the tribulations of addiction.
“The hardest thing about portraying a drug addict is — there are a lot of cautionary tales, there are a lot of after-school specials — but what I really wanted to get to the core of is the pain and the shame about what you’re doing and you’re inability to get clean despite the havoc and destruction you’re wreaking around you,” Levinson said of the show during the ATX Television Festival in 2019, per Deadline.
Levinson noted that he does have to be “mindful of” the risk of glamorizing drug use “just by the sheer nature of it being on screen.”
“We have to be authentic about it,” he explained. “If we’re pulling our punches and we’re not showing the relief that drugs can bring it starts to lose its impact. Drugs are not the solution but they can feel like it at times, and that’s what makes them so destructive.”
Drug Use on Euphoria
Still, D.A.R.E. is far from the first group to express concern over the impact “Euphoria” might have on younger viewers. Before the second season debuted earlier this month, the Parents Television and Media Council released a statement warning of the show’s “imminent threat to the health and well-being of children.”
Before each episode of “Euphoria” airs, HBO flashes a warning to alert viewers of the drug abuse, language, violence, nudity, and sex that will appear in the program. The show might be cavalier in the casual and frequent manner it depicts drug use and other dangerous behavior, but more often than not, characters await the consequences of their actions.
In the most recent episode of “Euphoria,” Rue’s addiction lands her in a visceral screaming match with her sister. The scene underscores the tragic and harsh reality of substance abuse.
While critics push back against the show for a variety of other reasons, they generally praise Rue’s arc, largely thanks to Zendaya’s gripping performance.
But D.A.R.E. argued that the show goes a bridge too far and offered to meet with HBO to hash out the issues.
“We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly,” D.A.R.E.’s representative told TMZ.
HBO has not publicly responded to the criticisms.
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Vanity Fair) (Complex)
Neil Young Asks For His Music to Be Removed From Spotify Over Vaccine Misinformation
The “Harvest Moon” singer told his representatives that the streaming service “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Neil Young Wants Music His Off Of Spotify
Musician Neil Young wrote an open letter to his management and record label demanding that his music be taken down from Spotify over concerns about vaccine misinformation.
The “Heart of Gold” singer initially posted the letter on his website, but it has since been removed. According to Rolling Stone, which reported on the document before it was taken down, Young specifically took issue with podcast host Joe Rogan.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“The Joe Rogan Experience” is exclusive to Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021. Rogan has regularly received criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation that contradicts public health recommendations, specifically when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines.
Rogan previously said that young people should not worry about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He has also regularly cited faulty studies questioning their efficacy and interviewed controversial medical personalities who are known for promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine.
Young said he is afraid of the ramifications of these kinds of remarks.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” the singer wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Concerns About Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Comments
Young’s manager, Frank Gironda, confrimed the authenticity of the letter to The Daily Beast.
“It’s something that’s really important to Neil,” Gironda said. “He’s very upset about this disinformation. We’re trying to figure this out right now.”
Young is far from the first person to express frustrations over the anti-vax views on the audio streaming service platforms. Earlier this month, a group of doctors and other medical professionals wrote a letter to Spotify urging the company to implement a policy to fight disinformation.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” the letter said. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, [The Joe Rogan Experience] is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the expert cautioned.
Spotify has not made a public statement regarding Young’s letter.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (The Daily Beast) (The Verge)
Ana de Armas Fans Sue Universal For Removing Actress From “Yesterday” Film
The fans argue that because there were no scenes with de Armas as promised in the trailer, “consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase.”
Ana de Armas Scenes Cut From “Yesterday”
Two fans of Ana de Armas are suing Universal Pictures for including the actress in a trailer for the 2019 film “Yesterday” even though she does not appear in the final cut of the picture.
In a class-action lawsuit filed in California, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza said they each spent $3.99 to watch the film after viewing the accompanying trailer on Amazon. They argue the studio’s “advertising and promotion of the movie Yesterday is false, misleading, and deceptive.”
The Danny Boyle-directed comedy follows a man, played by Himesh Patel, who wakes up in a world where no one knows who The Beatles are but him, so he starts playing their music and claiming it as his own. De Armas appears briefly in the trailer as a character competing with the primary love interest, played by Lily James. Writer Richard Curtis said they had to cut de Armas’ part to strengthen the character arcs.
“That was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant in it,” Curtis previously told Cinema Blend. “I mean really radiant. And [that] turned out to be the problem…I think the audience did not like the fact that his eyes even strayed. Because then some people would go, ‘Oh, he really doesn’t deserve her. He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where it’s some of our favorite scenes from the film, but we had to cut them for the sake of the whole.”
For Woulfe and Rosza, the choice to cut de Armas is a dealbreaker. They are seeking $5 million on behalf of all impacted consumers.
Fans File Lawsuit Against Universal
“Because consumers were promised a movie with Ana De Armas by the trailer for Yesterday, but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana De Armas at all, such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” the lawsuit states.
Patel and James each had credits of their own prior to the release of “Yesterday.” Still, the fans believe that Universal instead used the star power of De Armas, who had recently appeared in “Blade Runner 2049,” to “entice viewership.”
“Unable to rely on fame of the actors playing Jack Malik or Ellie to maximize ticket and movie sales and rentals, Defendant consequently used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance and brilliance to promote the film,” the suit continued.
Just a few months after the release of “Yesterday,” de Armas would go on to receive critical acclaim for her role in “Knives Out.” She has since appeared in the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”
Now a much bigger name than in spring of 2019, the lawsuit claims de Armas still appears in trailers on services like Amazon and Google.
“Despite knowing that Ms. De Armas was not in the released version of the movie Yesterday, Defendant has consistently promoted Ms. De Armas as a character starring in the film, by including her scenes in Yesterday’s movie trailers,” the suit states. “Indeed, Defendant continues to promote Ms. De Armas as appearing in the film more than two years after its initial release, in advertisements for movie sales and rentals.”
Universal has not released a statement in response to the lawsuit.