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January 3, 2012

Tim Minchin, Woody Allen Jesus and Political Correctness

By Spear's

Has political correctness now swung too far the other way in being conservative? Melinda Hughes looks at the case of singer Tim Minchin and his song Woody Allen Jesus
LAST MONTH ITV pulled Tim Minchin’s hilarious new song ‘Woody Allen Jesus’ from the Christmas special of the Jonathan Ross show and understandably, Minchin was extremely upset.

It is reported that ITV executives pulled his appearance for fear of causing offence. Minchin knew he had to tone his material down for mainstream television so lawyers and producers checked his lyrics in good time, yet still it was pulled. It appears that someone had cold feet and decided to show it to ITV’s director of television Peter Fincham who immediately ordered it to be pulled from transmission.

Perhaps some of you are familiar with Tim Minchin’s work. He is one of my heroes and his songs push right to the edge of satire, wit and irony. As a satirical song-writer myself I could only aspire to his daring genius.

Minchin is vocal about his atheism and his intolerance of small-minded people who force religion down people’s throats, so much so that on a recent tour of America, a piano (booked for a gig in Dallas) was not delivered as the company said Tim Minchin is an insane God-hater. They signed off ‘Love in Christ’… They ought to hear his songs, including ‘Prejudice’, about being ginger, and ‘Storm’, a jibe at new-age vegan idealists.

Now each to their own but we still live in a democracy don’t we? The dictators are dropping like flies and Twitter has certainly helped fuel the Arab Spring. What about satire? We need satire, for goodness’ sake. We are a depressed and cynical nation. It is part of our British identity. Where would we be without Private Eye, Have I Got News For You, The Daily Mash or Prime Minister’s Question Time? Now that’s really funny.

So back to ‘Woody Allen Jesus’, a simple yet brilliantly crafted song. Here are the opening lyrics:

Jesus was a Jewish philosopher

Had a lot of nice ideas
About our existential fears

Much admired by his peers

Short and Jewish and quite political
Often hesitant and very analytical
Praise be to Jesus
Praise be to Woody Allen Jesus
Woody Allen Jesus!
Watch Tim Minchin performing Woody Allen Jesus, as cut from Jonathan Ross’ Christmas special

I live in a city where people are now stabbed now on a daily basis, tensions run high, the recession deepens, we struggle with racial hate and poverty-driven rioting, so don’t tell me we cant sing a witty ditty comparing Woody Allen to Jesus. Aren’t Christians supposed to turn the other cheek? Is ITV going to deprive us of anything intelligent? It’s bad enough that we have to suffer the appalling script and inaccurate syntax of Downton Abbey.

We are becoming more intellectually starved by the day, bombarded by cheap reality TV shows, interactive gambling, too much cookery and too many soaps with increasingly incredible plots, even as channels such as Sky Arts have an ever increasing viewership. Doesn’t this tell the television executives anything?

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The upshot of this all, of course, is that ‘Woody Allen Jesus’ has gone viral with over 700,000 hits, so Tim has the last laugh. The downside, however, is that instead of Tim Minchin singing, we were dumped with some gormless kids named Il Volo (the flight) the next manufactured boy band attempt at cross over opera. Despite their promising voices, they fidgeted their way through a cheesy Christmas carol, devoid of proper diction and stage presence. I wish they could have ‘flown’ far, far away.

Is 2012 going to endorse an ever-increasing promotion of mediocrity? If so, I despair.

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