The Conversation

Sympathy for the Devil

In response to HISTORY Channel Releases Statement on Obama 'Lookalike' Satan Character:

It takes a heck of an imagination, plus a massive inferiority complex, to look at the actor playing Satan for the History Channel and see Obama.  I'm old enough to remember when liberals were the ones mocking reactionary racist types for saying "they all look alike to me."  These liberals are carrying a chip on their shoulders the size of a surplus Solyndra solar panel.

Prior to today's non-troversy, if you handed out photos of this veteran Moroccan actor and asked people "Who does he look like?" I'll bet you'd have gone through an auditorium full of respondents before hitting someone who said, "Dang, he looks like an older version of Barack Obama!"  

It's interesting how the people who so often use contempt and demonization as weapons against their political adversaries are so sensitive to the impact of even accidental demonization (meant literally in this case, I suppose.)  The Obama personality cult takes pains to ensure the public doesn't grow too comfortable with mocking him.

You'd think we would hear some applause for "The Bible" producers bringing a bit of diversity to the portrayal of Satan, who is usually either an unctuous white guy with a British accent, or a hyperactive oversexed white guy.  (I know it would have ruined what the makers of this fine TV series were trying to accomplish, but I almost wish they'd spared themselves the ObamaSatan controversy by recruiting Al Pacino to reprise his role from "The Devil's Advocate.")

Personally, my favorite fictional portrayal of Satan comes from Neil Gaiman's outstanding "Sandman" graphic novels, where the Devil is depicted as flawless in his beauty ("the most perfect being in all of creation.")  He gets tired of running Hell - a very depressing operation, the management of which is a difficult and thankless task - and resigns after four billion years, to work in a piano bar in Australia.  Nursing his old grievances against God over a cocktail at twilight, he mutters, "All right, you old bastard, I'll give you this much: the sunsets are bloody marvelous."

Maybe the whole silly ObamaSatan episode is more straightforwardly cynical, and the clowns trying to stuff this tempest into a dollhouse-sized teapot were just looking for a quick way to take some wind out of "The Bible's" very hefty sails.  It's been pulling in boffo ratings, which has to make some of our cultural gatekeepers a bit nervous.


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