On a recent episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” creator/writer Larry David set up a situation in which his employee and her mother kept a picture of Jesus hanging near their toilet. In one scene, while David urinates, the picture gets splashed with urine and forms a teardrop under one of Jesus’ eyes. The employee and her mother -being obvious religious fanatics, and therefore stupid – believed that the picture of Jesus was crying and that a miracle had happened. The supposed-humor comes with their preparation to take the image on tour so they can share this miraculous event.
Like Mr. David, and Jerry Seinfeld, who also appeared in the episode, I am Jewish, but I was deeply offended by this gratuitous ridiculing of Jesus and Christianity. I was both shocked and extremely uncomfortable with this display of intolerance by Mr. David and whoever else had a hand in it. This reminded me of the 1989 case in which taxpayer money was used to fund an “artist” (photographer Andres Serrano) who immersed an image of Jesus in a vat of his own urine. In the past, I have found Mr. David’s humor amusing, and his role as co-creator of the program “Seinfeld” places him among those who have enjoyed tremendous success, and who changed the comedy landscape along with adding words and phrases to the pop culture. However, this time he has strayed far from his previous efforts, to become a crude and offensive purveyor of stupidity, cruelty, and bigotry. I am equally astonished by the lack of reaction and revulsion to this episode of “Curb.”
Contrast this with the reaction when comedian Michael Richards lost his temper during a stand-up gig and called some hecklers the N word. Mr. Richards, who played Kramer on “Seinfeld,” was roundly and rightly criticized for his offensive behavior, and the story was kept in the news cycle for many nights and covered by all the news outlets. Mr. Richards later appeared on television with Mr. Seinfeld and apologized publicly. Where are those same people who objected so fiercely to that incident now? Why would Mr. Seinfeld, who seemed so concerned about what Mr. Richards had said and helped with the apology, even appear in this episode?
I believe that Mr. David, the management of HBO, and anyone else who had a hand in this owe all of us who despise this sort of bigotry – Christians and non-Christians alike – an apology.
– Nat Trayger, Ed. D