A TV commercial for Red Bull, which ran for only a day in South Africa, has Christians, as well as Muslims, up in arms for its depiction of a hipster Jesus Christ walking on water.
In a stunning example of either extremely bad taste or a disdain for the sensibilities of religious believers, the power drink company bowed to pressure from South African religious groups decrying the ad’s depiction of Jesus by pulling the ad within a day.
For Christians, the ad is deemed offensive because of Jesus’ stature as the savior. For Muslims the ad offends because Jesus is considered the last great prophet before Muhammad. Either way, leaders believe, the commercial is in extremely poor taste.
In it, a bored Jesus Christ is seen getting out of a small fishing boat as two of his apostles look on in amazement. As Christ walks toward shore the apostles assume he must have had a Red Bull, which gives him wings to walk on water. Naturally, they ascribe the feat to a miracle.
But Jesus dispels the illusion by showing there are stepping stones just underneath the surface, almost slipping on one of them. As the ad closes, he murmurs “Jesus!” under his breath.
It’s stunning to think that ad executives for the company decided to air this commercial for even a day. Aside from issues of free speech (which is not viewed the same way by South Africans as Americans) it’s certain someone in the group would have raised the point that the commercial would be highly offensive to religious groups. So what was the point?
As a consequence, Catholic leaders are asking Red Bull drinkers to give up the energy drink for Lent to begin with, and to boycott the beverage, and the company, moving forward. That’s not an idle threat.
Perhaps the most heartening development is the public unity shared by Christians and Muslims who are rallying together over a common tie.
Here’s the commercial:
What do you think? Is this offensive? Was it worth the controversy?
Please leave a comment below.
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