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  • Lance Mannion
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I'm afraid you've lost me here, Lance. First let me say, the Chocolate Jesus Thingy is does nothing for me(although I do kind of like the cross in piss) and I don't care to defend or even think about it for more than a few seconds, but the thrust of your argument seems to be that things like this hurt the cause of art in society at large. As a big fan of Duchamp and Yves Klein, I find value in conceptual, provocative and found art. This almost seems like a case of "the pushy, obnoxious Jews make it easier for the bigots to hate all Jews" syndrome.
By the way, Donohue's going to find a lot more to be offended about in the newest South Park where they have him killing the Pope, assuming the Papacy and imprisoning Jesus.


Ok, I'll bite (ha).

First, artist who created the Jesus piece (titled "My Sweet Lord") works in food. What is Easter in America anyway, but a whole lot of chocolate & and little bit of Jesus? I found it rather fitting. They sell chocolate crosses in candy stores at Easter. This symbol of his sacrifice! Where's the outrage?

American's don't care about ART. The only time ART gets any attention in the country is when it sells for huge sums (like the Klimt paintings last year) or when it is deemed "offensive." Then there are lines around the block, just waiting to be appalled.

Speaking of which, being offended is not fatal or even a flesh wound. It happens to everyone and we somehow manage to carry on living. Most of us, anyway.


Since Alice said pretty much what I meant to say about chocolate and christ, I figure I'll just mention here that last night's SOUTH PARK had William Donohue throwing Jesus in vatican jail as an unnbeliever, then appointing himself Pope.

This, after the first half of the show took off on the DAVINCI CODE, though in this version we discover that St. Peter was in fact a rabbit ("Peter...Rabbit?"), and that Jesus had wanted a rabbit to e the head of the church.

After some Jesus ninja moves, the last descendant of the original Rabbit Pope was appointed to the Papal Throne.

My point is, blasphemy finds its own level.


Alice, Easter isn't about Christ's sacrifice. That's what Good Friday's about. It's about rebirth, renewel, life restored and life continuing---that's why all the eggs, the bunnies, and the yellow marshmallow chicks. The chocolate crosses are empty crosses, symbols not of the dying Jesus but of the risen Lord. Easter celebrates the Resurrection. And the defining fact about My Sweet Lord isn't that it's made out of chocolate, it's that it is nude with a comical semi-erect penis.

And it's ugly.

Offending people as an accidental effect of what you're doing is one thing. Offending them as the point of what you're doing is another.


There's another big debate over how much bad art must be created and tolerated for good artists to appear and thrive. This is why My Sweet Lord doesn't offend me---except as a matter of---ahem---taste---and it's why I think it should just be ignored. It's the price the culture has to pay for wanting and needing art.

Should be noted that a lot of the great artists of the past did set out to offend---the artistic establishment not the hoi polloi. "Offensive" artists these days are mainstays of the artistic establishment. Duchamp was a revolutionary. The artists I'm talking about are just good marketeers.



Didn't catch South Park. Sounds very funny. Big difference, though, is that South Park targets people with the power to fight back, like Donohue. Works like My Sweet Lord just court the applause of the knowing elite by poking fun at the rubes.


The Christian church(es) (and all variants thereof) in this country are pretty powerful and pretty wealthy, hardly a small group of poor rubes.

Would a chocolate cross in urine be offensive? (Just askin').


Shocking the bourgeoisie has, by now, itself become merely another codified step in the resume building process of careerist artists who are themselves bourgeoisie. Indeed, the artists may well be even more conformist and bourgeois than the supposed bourgeoisie that they pretend to shock.

We've seen this shit for 90 years now. Duchamp's urinal already contained all the possibilities of this strategy on the first day he exhibited it. When are artists going to move on from their own debilitating conservative ideologies (endless replays of hackneyed minimalism, Pop, abstract expressionism)and move onto something actually new? They had more artistic change in the middle ages than we do now. Instead of just imitating things that maybe shocked in 1905, how about actually trying to say something deep or real?


Thomas Kinkade (Painter of LightTM)?

PS. Lance, thank you for mentioning Waits' song. I think yours is the first I've seen. All week I've been muttering "But what about Tom?"


"The artists I'm talking about are just good marketeers."

We're all marketeers to some degree or another. Few of us can get by by merely creating our art, our words, fleshing out ideas in a cave with little thought of what comes after. I'd like to be so above it all to not have to think about selling things, but bills come in the door, hungry mouths are open. We all market... whether it's our art, our words, our blogs, or ourselves.

I'm not saying I love it, but there is a need for it. There is also moderation. At some point we stop being marketeers and become chain-yankers.


Those darn kids with their darn ipods and hulahoops and fax machines and chocolate jesuseses! All they wanna do is shock people! In my day we had real Art! We made it out of macaroni and we LIKED it that way! Why don't they make real art anymore? Like those poker playing dogs! Now THAT'S art!

Mike Schilling

I'll only explain this once, so pay attention. At Communion, you eat the body of Christ. Now, what would happen if Jesus were made out of chocolate, and you ate him at every Mass? You'd get fat.

Now, what would happen to someone who made a chocolate Mohammed? They'd be up in arms. He'd become the target of a fatwa. Get it? What he's saying is that the difference between Christianity and Islam is the difference between fat and fatwa.

Geez, you people have no sense of humor.


"What he's saying is that the difference between Christianity and Islam is the difference between fat and fatwa."


You know, my first thought upon seeing the chocolate Jesus (not letting myself get caught up in the ploy) was that at least his skin tone was probably more accurate than most paintings... and then the second thought was that the chocolate looked as if it had oxidized. I was thinking, what a bummer, here you are someone who deals with food and your chocolate oxidizes. He'd get a deduction on the Food Network.

Doc Hatter

In "Speaking with the Angel", Nick Hornby has a short story ("NippleJesus") on much the same theme.


I have to admit I actually don't get why the chocolate Jesus is offensive. Maybe Donohue offered a more complete explanation somewhere, but in the the quotes I've read he just seems to take it as a given that Christians should be offended by it.

I was raised Methodist and I feel like I've got a pretty good understanding of Christianity, and I truly don't understand the controversy.

Also you're just buying into right-wing hype if you think the "dung-painted Virgin Mary" thing was intended to offend. The artist is himself Catholic, and perhaps intended it to be provocative, but was not trying to insult Christianity.


That's kind of the idea, EJ. Lance wants to buy into the rightwing hype. Probably he's under the mistaken impression that he can win some rightwing Republitard NASCAR fan readers away from Michelle Malkin. It's a time honored faux-liberal democrat-pundit-wannabe pwoggie-bloggie tactic.

Kate Marie

Right, Alan, because it's impossible, when someone takes a position you disagree with, that they are simply saying what they think. If what they think has anything in common with what Michelle Malkin thinks, their motives must be impure, corrupt, deceitful.

Attacking someone's motives instead of their argument is one of my least favorite forms of logical and rhetorical fallacy. And it smacks of purges and loyalty oaths.

But then again, I *would* say that, since I'm one of Lance's rightwing Republitard readers.

Heil, Mannion!


"In my day we had real Art!"

Actually, the most ironic thing is how downright conservative and traditional epater le bourgeois is. After you got the urinal, the thing was already at a dead end. Now, no one's shocked but the artist gets to tick off another box on the resume and land tenure.

Kate Marie

I completely agree with Burritoboy.

How's that for epater le bourgeois?


Lance, what's up with this post?

Serano's "Piss Christ" is a beautiful image. The very substance that grants the picture its ethereal, golden beauty is also a waste product from inside the human body. What could more effectively indicate that perhaps their really is beauty in ALL of god's creation?

And if the viewer never learns the golden light is urine-induced, what's the harm? They've got a pretty dying Jesus to look at.

And of course the fact that the urine offends certain people is a comment on their relationship with their own bodies. Besides, it is FUN to offend stupid people who mistake knee-jerk prudishness for authentic thought.

Chocolate Jesus is a striking piece were it in any medium, made MORE striking by the fact that it is made out of chocolate...I mean what's the problem? I like that the physicality of this Jesus expresses pain and torture, like you know, you might experience hanging nailed to a cross. And god forbid a man would have a penis.

Chris K.

So if it had been a chocolate Jesus with a chocolate loincloth, everything would have been fine?

Adam: Allowed to have a penis.
David: Allowed to have a penis.
Cherubs: Allowed to have a penis.
Jesus Christ: No penis, except maybe if he's an infant.

I'm not up on the theological implications of suggesting that Jesus Christ may have had a penis, honestly. But I have to imagine there's something more going on here that makes this offensive. (The pictures I've seen aren't high enough resolution - I honestly thought he had a flaccid penis, not a comical, semi-erect one. So maybe that's what makes it offensive?)


I don't have much of an opinion on the execution, but when I heard about this piece, I thought that the idea of a chocolate jesus as a comment on the secularization of religious holidays into semi-related consumer opportunities was actually kind of apt.

I seem to have been pretty much alone in thinking that, and I have no idea what the artist intended, but I don't know that it's offensive on its face.


Oh, dear. Forgot. The penis seems to be an issue.

It's kind of interesting - there's been an ongoing narrative of martial christianity lately, where such prominent christians as Bill Donohue, Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson claim Jesus for the side of blowing shit up.

I'm a little disturbed that people are comfortable with the idea that Jesus (despite everything he ever had to say) was a warlike fan of capitalism, but it's offensive to suggest that He was biologically male, to the point where Bill Donohue's career got its start over Last Temptation, which (apparently inexcusably) suggested that the idea of marrying and having children might be a temptation to someone who was going to be tortured to death instead.

Again, I know nothing about the artist, but it's not beyond the pale on its face.

Kevin Wolf

Lance, I find myself agreeing with your overall point, even as I would urge you not to lump together every artwork that becomes controversial.

"Piss Christ" doesn't do much for me, but as noted above it's not an innately offensive or ugly image. (And, as an aside into how far afield the arguments over these things can get, it was years before I found out "Piss Christ" really is just an image - a photograph - not an actual, exhibited jar. For all we know the original jar was filled with Mountain Dew.)

Re the chocolate Jesus, I am especially unimpressed with this work - the cheeky title, "My Sweet Lord," is to me a clue to the artist's lack of serious purpose. If I thought this depiction of Christ truly showed him with a hard-on, I'd find even stupider than I do, but the pictures I've seen don't appear to support that. (Though it's been tough to find a good frontal view.)

In searching for an image of the sculpture, I also found any number of products that depict Jesus (albeit clothed) in chocolate, including a candy bar Last Supper. So, I'm even less impressed now than when I started to think about this "art" upon reading your post.

I'll close by saying that art of this sort, as pointed out by others above, is pretty played out. These controversies don't interest me - especially when the likes of Donohue are involved (except as a political discussion). The question when confronted with any artwork is, is it any good? The answer is frequently no, and you needn't be a critic or even have any training (as I do, with my BFA) to answer that question when the artwork is as weak as this.

BTW, has there been any word if anybody bit Jesus' ears off?


Lance, while I largely agree with your thoughts about these 'shocking' 'works of art', that they are more for the shock value then for the art itself, I must disagree regarding Serrano's Piss Christ. I'm not at all religious but when I finally got to see the image, I found it to be amazing. I don't really care how the image was made, maybe that was the mistake. But IMHO it looks like art. And frankly, I think it is beautiful.


Bill Donohue, the reality that forms the basis for every slur against we Irish ever spoken by the Pommies.

Another candidate for Making The World Better by being found in a dark alley, face down, bleeding out from a large-caliber exit wound.

This guy makes me ashamed to be Irish, that I could have anything in common with such a fucking asswipe.


I don't have strong feelings about "My Sweet Lord," the chocolate Jesus, but I agree with your general points about provocateurs. Rather than labeling any piece of art "offensive," I don't see the problem with just saying it's bad art if one think it is. It's also perfectly easy to say, "I defend the First Amendment rights of the artist to make this piece, but I find it weak, unoriginal and one-dimensional" — but I'm not sure I ever hear anything approaching that in mainstream coverage! I find when something's labeled "controversial" it normally means, "crap that we're trying to sell," versus anything genuinely edgy, thoughtful or innovative. Really, who cares what Bill Donohue thinks about anything? I find an aesthetic critique of any piece much more useful than the social or political critique of a blowhard. (Oh, and since others mentioned Duchamp, he always makes me laugh, in a very positive way.)


The Bartlebooth Award may be of interest to commenters on this thread. The most on topic being "The Ted Williams Memorial Display With Death Mask From the Ben Affleck 2004 World Series Collection". "A finger in the eye" of Red Sox nation. Oh, I don't know if it's art, but...


Sorry I'm behind the curve on this one--I've been away and am just now catching up.

No one in the comments seems really to have defended the elephant dung Madonna yet, besides making the point that the artist himself was Catholic, so let me point out that the artist was also evoking part of the world where elephant dung has spiritual overtones in native religions. There's a nice piece from Salon on the point:

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