Friday, October 05, 2007

Leather and the Last Supper

I have not blogged on the controversy over Miller's sponsorship of the Folsom Street Fair and the appearance of its logo in conjunction with a parody of DaVinci's Last Supper.

One of my rules in life is that you ought to try very hard not to be offended. For that reason I am not a fan of Bill Donohue and the way in which he has run the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His appetite for offense appears to border on gluttony.

But the Folsom Street parody of the Last Supper is not like the parody on the Simpsons or most other well known parodies of the painting. This parody was undertaken by a group that is at odds with the Catholic Church and much of the Christian world. The latter tells them that their sexual practices are immoral and harmful. They don't like that and the Last Supper tableau, imputing those practices to Jesus and the Apostles is an aggressive and nasty way of expressing that dislike. (Even an alternative interpretation that Jesus accepts the sexual practices celebrated on Folsom Street is rather in your face.)

I think that the parody reflects an ugly and distorted view of the world, but that alone doesn't get me exercised about Miller. While beer companies would like us to think that they are like us and really cool so we should associate them by buying their beer, there is, for most of us, nothing to Miller other than whatever is in the can or bottle. They like the Brewers in Milwaukee and the Cubs in Chicago. They will sponsor parish festivals as well as leather meets. They are everything to everyone, so they are nothing. They are a bottle of beer. Whether they love Jesus, praise Allah or dance around trees means nothing to me.

For me to get excited, I have to believe that their sponsorship has some impact in the world. If, for example, I believe that the Folsom Street Fair promotes an objectification of sex or the promotion of sexual practices that harm those who engage in them, then I may not want to provide Miller the money to do it by buying their beer. I might feel the same way if I think that they pollute more than they should or exploit third world workers, etc.

Of course, you could also argue that the parody will promote disrespect for Christianity or lead people astray, but I have to be careful about that. Any expression of a belief that I disagree with or attack upon a belief that I hold dear may persuade someone in a way that I don't like, but I can only boycott so much at a time. In any event, whether I am offended has nothing to do with it.

As for this particular case, I am not sure that, in a world where so much happens that shouldn't, Miller's offense is a high priority. But, then again, I can't boycott what I don't buy so Miller ought to be as indifferent to what I think as I am to what they think.


Anonymous said...

Of course, all of San Francisco would be terrified if the Folsom Street Festival were to have similarly appropriated the image of Muhammad to promote their event.

Anonymous said...

"This parody was undertaken by a group that is at odds with the Catholic Church and much of the Christian world. The latter tells them that their sexual practices are immoral and harmful. They don't like that and the Last Supper tableau, imputing those practices to Jesus and the Apostles is an aggressive and nasty way of expressing that dislike."

Reader quiz:

Is Esenberg engaging in

A. Mental telepathy
B. Psychological projection
C. Making stuff up
D. All of the above

Anonymous said...

Rick, it's just more liberal hate.
It doesn't make me fume either, I've come to expect hate from the left. I suggest that if a Fraternity had a street or block party and had the last supper being inhabited by black face with watermelon and fried chicken, our liberal friends wouldn't be so nice about it. And Miller wouldn't sponsor it.

Anonymous said...

Beer and sports, beer and races, beer and grill outs, beer and dancing and now beer and homosexuals.

What's next, pedophiles, xxx, what?

It looks like the high life is taking the low road.

Rick Esenberg said...

Just to be clear, my own sense is that the problem with Folsom Street is not that it is homosexual but that it objectifies people - of whatever sex.

illusory tenant said...

There has to be more to it than that. Beer advertising has been objectifying women since forever.

If the problem is the self-objectification inherent to the submissive's role in a BDSM relationship, consent is a crucial aspect, as I understand it, within strictly defined limits.

The general objectification of women in Miller's more "mainstream" marketing activities is far more insidious.

Other Side said...

Rick: A balanced look at the issue.

ted kennedys car: Rick, it's just more liberal hate.

Sometimes the irony is deafening.

John McAdams said...


I understand you logic in thinking badly of people who are perpetually offended. And maybe in some perfect world, everybody should be laid back.

The problem is that the politically correct left has changed the rules. Claiming to be "offended" demands concessions from others.

Think of it as a prisoners' dilemma. So long as the left can play the "offended" card to silence expression they don't like, they need to face a right that will play by the same rules.

This logic is why I rather applaud attacks on academic freedom from the right. I don't want them to succeed, but I do want leftist academics to be afraid that their academic freedom might be taken.

Once the campus left decides that the right doesn't have the power to take its freedom, it will proceed to fire conservative professors.

As for students: the process is already far along.

Dad29 said...

While I agree with your delightful and felicitous description of Donohue, I am offended by the depiction AND by Miller's corporate stamp (meaning they purchased the offensive posters.)

And here's why: it is an offense against sensibilities, or (if you like,) Western culture.

As you may recall, I was one of very few who joined with the Pope in condemning the "Mohammed cartoons" published in Sweden--and I join with Illusory (heaven help me!) in his assessment of the "get sex here" nature of Miller's advertising, as well.

Not that Miller is alone, nor are they the worst offender.

Denigrating the (strict sense)Judaeo/Christian culture of the West is (in the very very broadest way) an offense against right order, properly defined. Thus, it is an offense against the law germinated by that very same West. It is thus ironic that you are non-chalant, given the logical consequences of that offense.

Religion cannot be a 'stick-on' like a smiley-face button or necktie. It is even more than the lapel-pin US flag, for religion endorses patriotism (rightly understood.)

But in the end, all I can do is choose not to purchase Miller product. They, too, chose--and they chose first.

illusory tenant said...

I join with Illusory

See, even Ol' Dad's got a masochistic streak.

Anonymous said...

Other side? I see you did a little liberal fly by.
The Folsom Street organizers, created a poster that parodies the last supper. It uses filth and sexual decadence to mock the last supper of Jesus Christ. Other side, I completely understand and recognize your cowardly denial. You are a lib. As a lib misfit, you pretend not to see what you clearly see. It's typical liberal hate. The organizers of the gay "fetish fest" much like you, realize that pretending to be a minority and/or victim class pressures sponsors like Miller etc. to be "inclusive".
Problem is, leftists like you, cannot control yourselves. You support the unsupportable, you defend the indefensible, you encourage intolerant abusive behaviors that even you don't agree with. Other side, you've long ago abandoned honor and decency. Freaks like you have come to realize that you need to "partner up" with even nuttier/goofier freaks in order to have a little coalition.
So you've stopped being logical and normal. You've joined forces and have become coalition/co-dependant partners with freaks.
And now you need freaks to be your
partner to have power. And you don't think gay black men with dildo's at the Last Supper is offensive. You suck.

Anonymous said...

Here's an excert from information that I recieved about a month ago.
I think "Miller" and others should read this book so rather then supporting this behavior they could maybe help victims out of that life style.

"In a 414-page book entitled Ex Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, researchers Stanton Jones, Ph.D. and Mark Yarhouse, Pys.D., conclude that (1) change in homosexual attraction is possible, and (2) attempts to change are not harmful. Both conclusions will have profound implications in the counseling world."

Other Side said...

Yo Mr. Car: I said nothing about the Folsom Street Festival. I complimented Rick on having produced, I thought, a balanced look at the issue.

My comment was about your apparent inability to understand the irony of accusing liberals of hating when the name you use to describe yourself is hateful to the core.

It's getting even louder in here.

Other Side said...

One other thing Mr. Car. I couldn't help but note that buried in your incoherant rant was this:

And you don't think gay black men with dildo's at the Last Supper is offensive.

Apparently you have no problem with white men and dildos since the black man you mentioned was the only one.

Now who sucks?