Jumbo of The Month: “The Bible” Producers On The Obama As Satan Problem



Responding to criticism that the character of Satan in The History Channel’s popular Bible series looks a bit like President Obama—which it does—executive producer Roma Downey said, absurdly, in support of her fellow producers who pronounced the claim as “utter nonsense”:

“Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.”

The essence of a Jumbo, the occasional award given here, is a brassily dishonest statement that evokes the memory of Jimmy Durante in the musical “Jumbo,” caught in the act of trying to steal the largest elephant in the world, and asking the sheriff innocently, “Elephant? What elephant?” as the huge pachyderm looked over his shoulder.

Satan looks like Obama, an older version, true, but still. Anyone can see it. They’re not twins, by any means, but calling the claimed resemblance “nonsense” is an insult. It’s not like people are saying Satan looks like Justin Bieber, Heidi Klum, of Kermit.  I doubt that the make-up was intentional, but it was certainly careless, like any discordant feature of a film that takes the audience out of the intended story and makes them think about something else, like sequesters, White House tours and lavish vacations. Denying what is right in front of everyone’s face is the worst way to handle the gaffe. All right, the second worst, after indignantly denying it, which is what Downey and her partners have done. All right, third worst: the first is accusing people who notice and comment upon the obvious of trying to discredit the actual Bible, when this isn’t what they are doing, and when your show isn’t the actual Bible, but a TV dramatization that doesn’t belong on The History Channel anyway. That guy isn’t Satan, either. He’s an actor named Mehdi Ouazzani.

If caught, lie; if they don’t believe you, lie louder; if they still don’t believe you, pound your fist—is this the theory, Roma? The problem is, after all that, Satan still looks like President Obama, and you look like a liar, or an idiot.

The proper response?  “Yes, he does look a little like the President. It was not intentional, I can assure you. We were not making any political statement or trying to offend anyone. Nobody caught it in time, just like nobody caught Dorothy’s pigtails changing length all through “The Wizard of Oz.” It happens. We wish it didn’t.”


Source: Buzzfeed

49 thoughts on “Jumbo of The Month: “The Bible” Producers On The Obama As Satan Problem

      • Well, simply playing Devil’s advocate, as it were, one of them is portrayed as being supremely powerful, clever, and crafty, if sinister and undesirable. The other has been executed. I think I’d prefer the unflattering portrayal to the violent and threatening one, myself.

  1. That is amusing.. Ever notice how often the President is played by a black actor in movies, even before BO? And God was black in the Bruce Movie.. And now Satan is black.. They’re getting all the best jobs!!!

  2. Wait wait wait…

    So the beef is with Satan looking like Obama??

    I would imagine just seeing a black guy cast as Satan is enough to draw a wave of criticism, despite several good guys being cast with African American actors.

    Then upon hearing what sounds to be an Arabic name of the actual actor sting Satan, I figured a whole separate wave of protest would erupt.

    They forgot a key feature of creating evil versions of anything: add a Van Dyke goatee.

    It worked to convert Leonard Nimoy into evil Spock.

    I’m not sure I’d have noticed a similarity other than the notion was already put in my head. I’m pretty observant and I think it takes someone who already has a proclivity to try to notice things like that to notice things like that.

    You know the thought experiment “don’t think of an elephant”. What are you thinking about?

    We’ll do a blind test, I don’t think my wife has heard of this association, we’ll watch the show Wednesday. She’s pretty observant I’m curious if she’ll make the connection.

    • Wifey didn’t comment, and when the scene was over I asked her and we noted:

      Satan is powdery white in the show (much much lighter than the image above) and a little more full than the image above. So yeah, I retract my comment above about viewers mistaking the casting of a black actor as Satan but not that it is an appearance that immediately reminds us of Obama.

      I re-assert that it would take someone who already has a mindset to look for those kinds of connections to notice them.

      The producers vehemence in their rebuttal to the comments of similarity between Satan and president may very well stem from them assuming the accusers were accusing them of intentionally creating a similar appearance.

  3. I can believe it was a mistake; I can also believe that the producers of this moronic dramatization of The Bible thought they were making some kind of historic epic; I can simultaneously believe that some make-up artists (not as “transparent” or “ethical” as the show’s producers/director) either enjoyed the potential tizzy it would cause or were making a political statement; I can also believe the producers/director thought they’d get some extra “buzz” for their program with the Obama-type makeup; but I cannot believe that they really are trying to tell us that anti-Biblists (is that a word), or anti-Obama politicos are the only ones who noticed it and make it a big deal.

    Lies, deceit, obfuscation. On a personal note, I think the resemblance is more in the shape of the face and that if one added 50 years to Obama’s face by computer-aging technology, added an ugly raised mole on his chin, he MIGHT look the the Satan in the ill-conceived and poorly done History Channel program.

    I don’t know what the ratings have for this program, but I bet they’ve gone up since the Obama-as-Satan uproar. When that’s over, I hope the program hits the skids. (Just waiting for a Barbra Streisand, et.al. to accuse conservatives for ignoring the precious “artistic license” to which they are entitled, to create negative Obama publicity. It will come, I am sure.)

    • Regardless of some “punk” make up artists trying to make a wave, at some point it passed a supervisor and the supervisor is hired by the producers and therefore a representative of their cultural outlook. “The buck stops here” means producers are ultimately accountable.

      I would think one of the main characters in the universe’s greatest story would get vetted for appearance by the top dogs of the show.

  4. I just watched it and all the stills I have seen of the actor playing satan have been manipulated . In the broadcast his face in much more if a shadow . Yes he does look like Obama in the still but at first viewing I wouldn’t have thought so unless I hadn’t been looking for it.

  5. What shocks me is that you, Jack, have not (unless I missed that post) objected to the fact that THE HISTORY CHANNEL is airing this series on The Bible. THE HISTORY CHANNEL!?!?!?!? Excuse me, but The Bible is NOT history. Wow, this bothers me WAY more than the Satan thing — and you know what a bleeding-heart-liberal I am.

  6. Oh, and in case anyone thinks I am being anti-religion, anti-God, anti-Bible, or anti-Christianity — I am not. The Bible, as most Biblical scholars will attest, is not a history book. Even if there are elements that contain historicity, it is definitively NOT a book of history. It is a book of faith, and turning it into a history book undermines its power and value.

  7. Wait wait!! Satan is supposed to be very good looking and charismatic,charming,etc.among his personality traits.
    I know some people have said the likeness was deliberate but come on. The producers would not have gone along with that knowing the ruckus it would and inadvertently has raised. But to deny the likeness is just dumb. Say,”oops” and move on.

  8. I think the same thing about this that I did about the Game of Thrones thing: It’s ridiculous that this is an issue at all.

    It’s clear, if we give them even an ordinary shadow of the doubt, that they didn’t intend any aspersion on the President. So that alone should end the issue. (As it should have with the Game of Thrones thing.)

    And even if they DID intend to insult the President – and I don’t believe they did – so what? Presidents are the most public of public figures. They are fair game. Everyone has every right to trash the president, or just to make jokes at the president’s expense.

    • I agree with this, Barry—I assume you agree that the post wasn’t about the ethics of having a character resemble the President or anyone else. I think it can be disrespectful to do so, but as you say, so what? Sam Rockwell did an extended George W. Bush riff in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Universe,” and it was terrific and appropriate for the family. Whether it was accidental or intentional, the fact should have been acknowledged.

  9. I fear that my reaction to such an accusation would be something on the order of:

    “What? Do all black people look alike to you?!?”


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