Is Jim Carrey Guilty of Character Assassination or Honest Caricature?March 20, 2018
Jim Carrey’s now viral caricatures of the White House Press Secretary and then the President are seen by some as political satire and by others as sacrilege. In a culture where character used to count and everything is politicized, how we process and respond to this kind of targeted speech shapes the conversation.
This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous! pic.twitter.com/MeYLTy1pqb
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 17, 2018
Art is political speech. And in this case, Carrey’s art took aim at Sarah Huckabee Sanders describing her in the caption to the painting as, “This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!” Unpacking that, we have the President described as “the wicked,” and his press secretary’s faith as “so-called.” He characterizes Huckabee Sanders as a person “whose only purpose in life is to lie” and portrays her both in the caption and the painting as “Monstrous.” Whatever else Carrey intended, it is certainly a mean-spirited attack on an individual but is there more here?
Some have defended the art and its description as satire while others see it as sacrilege. It seems there is some truth in both claims. Political cartoons are drawings intended to express the artist’s opinions about corruption using hyperbole and satire. Based on such a definition, Jim Carrey could be viewed as an editorial cartoonist using Twitter as his editorial page. But the attack on Huckabee Sanders’ faith and the characterization of her as a liar, take the satire to a place some see as character assassination.
If you liked my last cartoon you may also enjoy…
"THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST WING AND PUTIN’S FLYING MONKEYS“ pic.twitter.com/slBG7j1s8d
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 19, 2018
But hold on. It is not as if Carrey’s latest posts to Twitter are a departure from the nearly manic production of politically satirical art he’s been posting almost daily. He’s taken aim at everyone from Marco Rubio, to General Kelly, to Devon Nunes, to Mitch McConnell, and frequently, Trump. Nor is this Carrey’s first anti-Christian or sacrilegious verbal salvo. He frequently perverts Bible verses and makes direct biblical allusions in his anti-Trumpian art-accompanied tweets. So, is the particular offense here that the person portrayed is a woman?
The fact that people can identify the political figures portrayed by Carrey gives credence to the art as art. The fact that people are outraged at his political statements gives credence to the editorial commentary. The fact that the culture is confused about what does and does not characterize an authentically Christian witness in political office – that’s not on Jim Carrey, that’s on Christians. If we don’t like how we’re being characterized in the culture then it’s our witness to the culture that is the problem.
Is is possible that what chaffs Christians here is not a gross mischaracterization of reality but a prophetically challenging spotlight? Christians are either people of the Truth or they’re not Christians. An unwavering commitment to Truth, whatever that Truth reveals, is the firm foundation upon which we take our stand. When the Truth reveals something in our character that is misaligned with the revealed character or will of God, we don’t seek to change the Truth, we allow the Truth to change us.
Facing the Truth here and now can be painful but not nearly so painful as waiting to face the Truth in judgement and hearing that though we claimed to know Him and lived as if we were His people, He never knew us. If there’s anything so-called or pseudo or half-hearted or double-minded or nominal about our Christian discipleship, better to be called out by the culture or even by Jim Carrey than to find out at the gate to the Celestial City that from the King’s perspective, we were never a real pilgrim at all.