Blasphemy as 'Satire'

Don't look for any peace that passes all understanding from the god Sarah Silverman portrays in her Comedy Central show, The Sarah Silverman Program.  This god smokes pot, pounds shots, clumsily kills a man with a remote control and calls people crude names.

Silverman's God is a one-night stand (from an episode last season) that she happens to run into again.  After she learns that a former classmate is now married to a D-list celebrity, she decides to bring God as her date to her high school reunion.

Silverman exploits God's power like a circus act.  During the reunion, Silverman asked him to give a blind man sight and to show her former classmates how he “can change the weather.”  

In another scene, God smokes pot with Silverman's homosexual friends,  levitates a remote control that spins out of control and fatally stabs a neighbor in the chest.  Later when the men and God are talking about the death, God says “Doesn't matter. He was gonna get hit by a drunk driver anyway.”  When pressed, he admitted to feeling “remotely guilty.” 

Sarah tells God he's arrogant and he responds by saying “Well, you're so…” and then breaks wind. Sarah calls him an “anus” and derides him for being “clingy” at the reunion, so God throws back a few shots of liquor.  This sets off a chain of events culminating in God calling most of the people in attendance “d---s” and falling down the stairs. 

Silverman defends her show as over-the-top satire.  Is satire really the right word?  Satire is a very demanding art form in which the satirist ridicules his targets in a way that illustrates their moral shortcomings.  The satirist presumes he is morally superior to, or at least possesses a deeper moral understanding than, his targets. Silverman's only possible targets are religious believers.  How do Silverman's sloppy homosexual gags and toilet humor establish any moral credibility?  

Silverman's irreverent portrayal of a foul-mouthed, drug-abusing God is not satire, it's a juvenile attempt to poke fingers in the eyes of reverent people.   This isn't satire, it's stupidity.  Sarah Silverman is to satire as gangsta rap is to poetry.

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center