Adelaide fringe stands by ‘blasphemous’ show Come Heckle Christ

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Catholic archbishop Philip Wilson and NSW Christian Democrat party leader Fred Nile object to comedian's offering.

A Melbourne comedian whose Adelaide fringe show has been criticised for its controversial title says he regrets that it is being used to play politics.

Come Heckle Christ is an improvised comedy show featuring Joshua Ladgrove, a comedian who physically resembles classic Renaissance images of Jesus Christ.

“I can’t help but feel some of the rage is somewhat manufactured, pre-processed and inauthentic,” Ladgrove told Guardian Australia.

“I think it’s silly, mildly amusing and good for Adelaide fringe.”

In the show, Ladgrove appears on stage dressed as Jesus Christ and sticky-taped to a cardboard crucifix.

He then has to react spontaneously as audience members heckle on him any subject, allowing them to drive the show’s direction.

The show ran successfully at last year’s Melbourne fringe but sparked controversy in Adelaide on Thursday when Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson wrote to parishioners calling the show “blasphemous”.

“While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts, I believe this production is extremely offensive to people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians,” the letter read.

“It is outrageous and entirely inappropriate for this sort of anti-Christian, blasphemous performance to be included in a public festival such as the Fringe.”

The archbishop also wrote to the premier, Jay Weatherill, and fringe sponsors asking them to intervene before the fringe begins in a fortnight.

Weatherill refused to be drawn at the time, calling the show’s title “juvenile” but suggesting it was best to ignore it.

The controversy has since been kept alive by the Rev Fred Nile, party leader of the New South Wales Christian Democrats, who used his Twitter account to label the show “anti-Christian bigotry”.

Written By: Royce Kurmelovs
continue to source article at theguardian.com

32 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Katy Cordeth:
      >
      >

      Jerry Springer the Opera redux.

      Ha..
      The lower photo shows a scary photocopied poster version of the hand-bagged outrage in Australia and should more accurately read…
      Beware indignant Zealot with red sign…
      >

      • In reply to #6 by Light Wave:

        In reply to #1 by Katy Cordeth:

        Jerry Springer the Opera redux.

        Ha..
        The lower photo shows a scary photocopied poster version of the hand-bagged outrage in Australia and should more accurately read…
        Beware indignant Zealot with red sign…

        I wish some of Katy’s comments weren’t so controversial that they are taken down as soon as they are posted! I thought she was the softly softly sort…

        • In reply to #29 by alaskansee:

          In reply to #6 by Light Wave:

          In reply to #1 by Katy Cordeth:

          Jerry Springer the Opera redux.

          Ha..
          The lower photo shows a scary photocopied poster version of the hand-bagged outrage in Australia and should more accurately read…
          Beware indignant Zealot with red sign…

          I wish some of Katy’s co…

          I guess she says it like she sees it and she does expand some minds – mine included…
          These articles are bait for controversy would you say…

  1. “He then has to react spontaneously as audience members heckle on him any subject, allowing them to drive the show’s direction.”

    Is that it? To keep that interesting for more than five minutes is no mean feat. How will he explain his Aussie accent? Or his appearance at the festival? I want to see some footage…

    • In reply to #2 by Joz:
      How will he explain his Aussie accent? Or his appearance at the festival? I want to see s…

      Not sure what accent Jesus had when speaking English. Perhaps we could ask, with due reverence, those who claim that He has spoken to them.

  2. Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson wrote to parishioners calling the show “blasphemous”.

    “While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts, I believe this production is extremely offensive to >people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians,” the letter read.

    “It is outrageous and entirely inappropriate for this sort of anti-Christian, blasphemous performance to be included in a public festival >such as the Fringe.”

    Pretty much says it all. Cognitive dissonance anyone? Just how “strong of a supporter of free speech and the arts” is this guy? He should’ve left that part of the sentence out and just started with the ” I believe this production is extremely offensive” part.

    He’s a strong supporter when he agrees with something, but when he doesn’t, well then it seems to be a problem.

  3. I’m trying to think of a good heckle…. so here goes…well its more of question really !

    Is this a Blue Peter version of the crucifixtion ? ….

    (sticky tape and cardboard) maybe only the Brits will get this one !!!
    Here’s one I made earlier…..

    • In reply to #4 by Light Wave:

      I’m trying to think of a good heckle…. so here goes…well its more of question really !

      Is this a Blue Peter version of the crucifixtion ? ….

      (sticky tape and cardboard) maybe only the Brits will get this one !!!
      Here’s one I made earlier…..

      I’m not a Brit but I got it. But only because I’m a rabid Dr. Who fan and I watch all the DVD extras on the old episodes — including visits by cast members to Blue Peter, my favorite was when K9 and the BP dog got together. The real dog didn’t know what to make of K9 it was pretty cute.

      • In reply to #21 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #4 by Light Wave:

        I’m trying to think of a good heckle…. so here goes…well its more of question really !

        Is this a Blue Peter version of the crucifixtion ? ….

        (sticky tape and cardboard) maybe only the Brits will get this one !!!
        Here’s one I made earlier…..

        I’m not a Brit bu…

        There was a lovely cartoon in British satirical magazine Private Eye following the death of Elisabeth Sladen, companion to Doctors three and four and star of a spin-off show with the tin dog as I’m sure you’re aware. You can see it here.

    • In reply to #4 by Light Wave:

      I’m trying to think of a good heckle…. so here goes…well its more of question really !Is this a Blue Peter version of the crucifixtion ? ….(sticky tape and cardboard) maybe only the Brits will get this one !!! Here’s one I made earlier…..

      And, if you need to use a scissors to crucify our Lord. remember to get a grownup to help you.

  4. While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts, I believe this production is extremely offensive to people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians

    Fine, but then I have never read or heard you object as loudly when free speech, including that of the Church, advocates homophobia or misogyny or child rape. Is this a case of the Church’s miraculous talent to have two faces or to juggle double standards.

  5. I have a suggestion for this guy: As it stands, the basic premise of this production is way too limited. I believe the show would inspire much more creativity from the audience if he were to take a cue from South Park. In addition to Christ, there should also be guys up on the stage dressed as Moses, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard etc, and it should be retitled, “Come Heckle All Of ‘em.”

  6. It saddens me that this needs to be pointed out yet again to the handwringing, righteously indignant, purveyors of perpetual outrage permeating our society. The Fringe is not a “public festival”; all of the headline attractions demand a paid admission, and you can be refused entry into any of the venues based the organiser’s criteria. This man is not a busker performing on a street corner for all to see; you must actively choose to watch, and pay for the privilege. Afraid you may be offended by what is presented? THEN DON’T GO TO THE FREAKIN’ SHOW!!! Protest with your wallet by not buying a freaking ticket!! Now, I demand that all Christian institutions remove from public view any and all images of your saviour being bloodily tortured; I find it offensive, creepy, and downright disrespectful of the sensitivities of the undeluded. And, for the sake of the children, GROW UP!!!!

    • In reply to #8 by Alakan:

      It saddens me that this needs to be pointed out yet again to the handwringing, righteously indignant, purveyors of perpetual outrage permeating our society. The Fringe is not a “public festival”; all of the headline attractions demand a paid admission, and you can be refused entry into any of the ve…

      I wonder sometimes if people actually get a buzz out of being offended, since it lets them claim the moral high ground and go on the offensive. This interesting Psychology Today article, “What Your Anger May Be Hiding”, suggests that anger is a secondary reaction to fear, anxiety, and some other unpleasant emotion that challenges one’s sense of security. And there’s this interesting bit:

      In Steven Stosny’s excellent book Treating Attachment Abuse (1995), which delineates a comprehensive model for therapeutically dealing with both physical and emotional violence in close relationships, the author offers a chemical explanation of how anger—in the moment at least—can act as a sort of “psychological salve.” One of the hormones the brain secretes during anger arousal is norepinephrine, experienced by the organism as an analgesic.

      In effect, whether individuals are confronted with physical or psychological pain (or the threat of such pain), the internal activation of the anger response will precipitate the release of a chemical expressly designed to numb it. This is why I’ve long viewed anger as a double-edged sword: terribly detrimental to relationships but nonetheless crucial in enabling many vulnerable people to emotionally survive in them.

      As an analgesic, norepinephrine (or noradrenaline, as I know it) is effectively a painkiller, but it is also a stimulant, so it has the double effect of taking away the pain and making you feel alert and lively. Unfortunately, it also provides a potential explanation for why people don’t always react well to contrary views, especially when those contrary views challenge ones you’ve emotionally invested in. It literally feels like an attack, but it also feels good to respond.

      In fact, revenge – an underlying motive in such scenarios if the attack is perceived as intentional – turns from an adversive experience (the offence) to a cool pleasure in getting one’s own back. The part of the striatum that “lights up when a person craves nicotine, cocaine, or chocolate” also lights up when a betrayed party calculates retaliation, and the orbital and ventromedial frontal cortex light up when the act is complete and the perpetrator judges whether the revenge was satisfactory or too costly. Basically, empathy goes depending on how the individual views the social “worth” of the one who wrongs them and receives punishment.

      This suggests that at least some people who claim blasphemy or offensiveness might actually, in a sadomasochistic way, be thankful that there are enemies out there who challenge them, since they get a buzz out of getting defensive, going on the offensive, and giving themselves a license to paint themselves as the victimized good guys at the expense of their opponents. It certainly doesn’t help that “blasphemy” and “offence” are violations of “purity”, which increases moralization.

    • In reply to #8 by Alakan:

      It saddens me that this needs to be pointed out yet again to the handwringing, righteously indignant, purveyors of perpetual outrage permeating our society. The Fringe is not a “public festival”; all of the headline attractions demand a paid admission, and you can be refused entry into any of the ve…

      I wonder sometimes if there are people who get a buzz out of being offended. Anger could be a secondary emotion that responds to a feeling of being threatened, such as a moment of fear or anxiety, by soothing the body system’s pain and pumping it for action. Anger is modulated by norepinephrine/noradrenaline, which is a painkiller and a stimulant. Also, neuroscientific findings suggest that people get a cool pleasure out of seeking and punishing norm violations, and satisfaction for having done so:

      Effective punishment, as compared with symbolic punishment, activated the dorsal striatum, which has been implicated in the processing of rewards that accrue as a result of goal-directed actions. Moreover, subjects with stronger activations in the dorsal striatum were willing to incur greater costs in order to punish. Our findings support the hypothesis that people derive satisfaction from punishing norm violations and that the activation in the dorsal striatum reflects the anticipated satisfaction from punishing defectors.

      Combine that with a reduction in empathy, and it’s perfectly possible that someone could get a sadomasochistic pleasure out of being offended and getting their own back on the offender. It depends on the individuals involved, of course.

  7. The religious are experts in showing outrage and claiming blasphemy and in this case claiming that they have nothing against the arts, providing it is not in any way critical of their belief.

  8. I think the point is probably that, being all things to all nations and all men of good will (though not apparently women, at least it says men in the book), HE speaks every language and dialect fluently.

  9. “While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts, I believe this production is extremely offensive to people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians.”

    Tough.

    That is all.

  10. “While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts, I believe this production is extremely offensive to people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians.”

    Tough.

    That is all.

  11. “While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts, I believe this production is extremely offensive to people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians,” the self-contradicting letter read.

    fixed

  12. Ahhh, we see once again…. “I am for freedoms….. just NOT when I don’t like them.” A group of people who clearly by their statements do not understand what freedom actually is.

    Monty Python twit: “I propose we tax all people standing in water.” Looks down and is standing in water. Shuffles off sheepishly.

    The problem is this asshole with his mouth open about supporting freedoms and then actually NOT supporting freedom never seems to look down and certainly never shuffles off sheepishly.

  13. @Op “While I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and a supporter of the arts,

    Just the usual incoherent ramblings of the cognitively dissonant, who feels he has to say something, even if he has nothing to say!

    I believe this production is extremely offensive to people of any religious persuasion and insulting to many South Australians,” the letter read.

    Really! Are the Buddhists and Hindus really jumping up and down in fury?????

    “It is outrageous and entirely inappropriate for this sort of anti-Christian, blasphemous performance to be included in a public festival such as the Fringe.”

    If he doesn’t like the show, his attendance is “inappropriate”! – Nobody is forcing him to buy a ticket!

    He could sit at home like an old cross-patch and sing, “Always look on the bright side of life”!

  14. Blasphemy demands that ignorance of religion be a crime. I don’t know what you believe, I don’t care what you believe and if I say something blasphemous regarding your belief, tough shit. I am not required to know your religion. The only thing we are not permitted to plead ignorance to when it regards the law is the law itself (funny that the law is the only thing we are legally required to know but don’t teach in school). So, to demand people be held accountable for blasphemy is to demand people be required to know your religion. F your religion!

  15. @ OP

    the controversy has since been kept alive

    Bill Donohue, u.s. catholic league, does the same thing. Any piece of art that veers off, even one compass degree, from what he considers “decent”, is tied to the proverbial stake. Zero tolerance.

    Pikachu lightening for the naysayers!

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