Wingnuts Make Very Own 'Onion' Knockoff, For Jesus!
Today in Things We Didn't Know Existed Until Just Now: There's this sappy little Onion knockoff called the Babylon Bee, and it has actually been around since 2016 doing comedy stylings for evangelical Christians. It veers between mildly satirical jokes that are 100 percent safe for the rectory bulletin board ("Worship Leader Caught in Infinite Loop Between Bridge and Chorus") and hard-hitting political satire ripped from rightwing Twitter posts ("Flash Flood Warnings Issued As Liberal Tears Continue To Soak Nation," from June 2017). Let's take a look at what gets the fundagelical set laughing these days, shall we?
One thing we'll grant the Babylon Bee: Unlike, say, Fox News' awful "1/2 Hour News Hour," the House of Murdoch's attempt to do a "Daily Show" funny news show, the site isn't relentlessly awful, at least until it starts doing politics. Some of their religious stuff is worth the kind of laugh you might find in "Mystery Science Theater 3000," even, like this New Year's offering:
It's funny because you're GOING TO HELL! We're always up for a good predestination joke!
Some of the Bee's offerings even aim to tweak its readers' own biases and shortcomings, a fairly rare thing in conservative "humor," as in October's "Christian Still Using Air Quotes Every Time He Says 'Science'" or the January 2018 "Opinion: My God Is An Imaginary Deification Of My Idiotic And Contradictory Personal Opinions":
The best part about serving a God who's simply an amalgamation of all my prejudices, opinions, biases, and social agendas is that He never once contradicts or challenges me. He never once asks me to step outside my culture and worldview and question whether or not my truth is in line with His truth—because my truth IS His truth.
Therefore, anyone who disagrees with me, disagrees with God. That's serious!
OK, sure, it's a Christian version of the Onion's "Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be," but it's a good trope, and it works. The theological stance is definitely evangelical, but firmly against such heresies as the the idea that Jesus wants you to get rich:
And as the Weekly Standard (now defunct) noted, the Bee really likes going after prosperity-Gospelleer Joel Osteen ("Joel Osteen Apologizes For Using Lord's Name In Sermon," "Joel Osteen Sees Own Shadow, Predicts Another Year Of Taking Bible Out Of Context," "Joel Osteen Launches Line Of Pastoral Wear: 'Sheep's Clothing'"). Not bad, Bee. Not bad at all.
When it comes to mainstream politics, though, the humor tends toward the tendentious, and far worse, the sort of lazy stuff Breitbart readers might go for, like this hilarious piece from Tuesday:
Truly, this is comedy GOLD, Jerry:
WASHINGTON, D.C.—After receiving confirmation that she was at least 1/1024th Native American, Elizabeth Warren has embraced her fractional identity. Having gotten an authentic Native American outfit from a costume shop and armed herself with weapons she read on Wikipedia that a Native American might use -- such as the tomahawk -- Warren stood before a buffalo exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian to give a speech to the assembled press.
"You pale faces have taken my land, and have angered the Great Spirit!" Warren announced as she glanced down at her book of Native American terms. "This theft has angered my ancestors," Warren continued, though it was unclear if "ancestors" referred to her parents Pauline and Donald or people further back along her family tree. "You will return what is mine, or I will hit you with a wigwam." She paused to look at her book again. "No, that's not right."
Ugh. (HA! HA!) But even in all that sophomoric slop, there's a not-terrible line about Donald Trump proposing to oppose Warren's warpath, just as soon as he can find "anyone who is at least 1/1024th a cowboy." Not a guffaw, but at least it's a tiny bit more effort than one more goddamn "Pocahontas" joke. Similarly, there's Hillary Clinton doing a "Get out the Vote" rally -- in Tijuana, get it?
And while the Bee doesn't like any Democrats -- fair enough -- it's also skeptical of evangelicals' embrace of Donald Trump:
So that's a bit different, huh? In other areas, of course, the tone is a bit less inclined toward whimsy, especially on the biggest culture-war topic of all. If the Onion had its "Abortionplex" story, then the Babylon Bee has its attempts at jokes about those wacky abortion-supporting liberals, too:
Like a lot of rightwing humor, on some topics, the Babylon Bee is definitely not afraid to go exactly where you'd expect it to.
By comparison, The Gays get off easy -- there's the expected hilarious jokes about Christian florists getting sued for not embracing gay marriage enthusiastically enough and a "Shocking New Study" which reveals "Disagreeing With Gay, Trans People Not Same As Hating Them." But then there's also this far lighter piece which, like some of the theology jokes, could just as well have come from the Onion itself: "Gay Waiter Miraculously Converted By Bible Verse Left In Lieu Of Tip." In that one, the title gay waiter leaves his life of sin and takes up "the lofty discipline of bumper sticker evangelism" after a Christian occupies a table for two hours, runs up a $167 tab, and leaves "a Christian fish symbol and the Bible reference 'JOHN 3:16'" on a handwritten note instead of tipping. Yeah, we remember those guys.
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