Jesus is in the news again, what with Christmas fast approaching. Earlier this week, we posted a pro-Christian ad featuring Ultrasound Jesus, aka Fetus Jesus—who is supposed to be a reminder in our hyper-commercialized world that “Christmas starts with Christ.” It’s just the latest questionable ad to feature the Son of God. After the jump, check out 10 other uncool ads and products starring Jesus (and we’re not counting Last Supper parodies, which are too numerous to count). Let us know of any we missed that you think are divine.
This was a fake ad, but it got its creator in real trouble. Harry Taylor, 59, a self-described “militant atheist,” was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment in England this year after leaving this spoof ad (and other off-color religious material) in the prayer room of Liverpool’s John Lennon airport. Taylor argued, unsuccessfully, that the images were satire and that people would be offended only if their faith was “weak.” He also said his actions were a tribute to Lennon, an anti-religious icon.
Also fake—and probably doesn’t belong on this list, as it’s actually pretty damn (darn!) cool. The Christ action figure can do it all. He has “walk-on-water action” and comes with a sadistic Roman soldier and a crying Mary Magdalene. But he’s not so omnipotent that he avoids crucifixion. Bless you for not taking it too seriously!
With this campaign, online anti-pornography ministry XXXChurch.com meant to suggest that Jesus loves porn stars even if He doesn’t love what they do for work. That’s a subtle distinction, though—one that people might (and did) misinterpret. You can see where they’re coming from, though. More uncool was XXXChurch.com’s attempts to order 10,000 bibles imprinted with the “Jesus loves porn stars” line on the cover to hand out at adult-industry events. That request was rejected by the American Bible Society.
A good way to start a controversy is to show Jesus as a pot-bellied, whiskey-slugging hippy who weasels his way into a club by turning the bouncers into dwarfs and a couple of ordinary-looking women into busty, half-naked models, and then leaves in a stretch Hummer. The Catholic Church said this promo for Plug TV, a youth network in Belgium, “crosses the limits of respectability.” But in fact, Jesus’s excessive behavior is not without consequences. At the end of the ad, he is whisked up to Heaven, where he gets an earful from God, who’s nicely decked out in a “Number one dad” T-shirt.
It’s good to know all that suffering on the cross wasn’t in vain. Safeway prices really are to die for. Thanks, Jesus!
The crucifixion isn’t really appropriate imagery with which to advertise a booze-up. But a nightclub in Melbourne, Australia, went there anyway, whipping up this poster with lines like, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins … but not mine!” and “Holy Thursday. The biggest night of the year.” Someone’s going to pay for this down the line.
This animated Red Bull spot from Italy showed a fourth wise man joining the better-known other three in offering gifts to the baby Jesus. While the others bring gold, frankincense and myrrh, the fourth guy lights up the room by hauling in a case of Red Bull. And least he wasn’t also brandishing a fifth of vodka. Complaints from Italian priests doomed the ad, which was yanked off the air.
The Jesus Jeans brand, founded in Italy in the early 1970s, burned many backsides with its provocative ads—which made a name for then-unknown photographer Oliviero Toscani and copywriter Emanuele Pirella. The Vatican, in particular, had problems with the work, which seemed to encourage coveting thy neighbor’s girlfriend’s butt.
The name alone—uncool. It actually comes from Michael Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial, where it was alleged that the pop star had referred to wine as “Jesus juice,” which he would supposedly offer to young boys to seduce them. A CBS producer who was covering the case tried to trademark the phrase in order to market a Jesus Juice wine, with an image of the King of Pop as Jesus on the label. The producer eventually turned the other cheek, abandoning the trademark appeal and the brand itself altogether.
Like the Red Bull ad, this spot for an Australian electronics retailer reimagined the Nativity scene. Here, baby Jesus throws the gifts from the three wise men out of his manger—evidently wanting something better like an iPod. It takes the top spot on our list for portraying Christ as a materialistic little brat from the moment he was born.
What did we miss? Comment below.