Religious depictions in advertisements are nothing new. Nor are offensive advertisements. Put the two together and you have an issue for us to talk about.
Reuters has the story that must have been all over the Italian papers of a Sony ad for the PlayStation gaming system depicting a smiling young man wearing a crown of thorns twisted into the PlayStation’s geometric logo.
The international news service’s story on C-Net’s News.com lamely quotes an editor of a Catholic weekly in an attempt to sum up the controversy:
“This time they’ve gone too far,” said Antonio Sciortino, editor of Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), a mass-circulation Catholic weekly.
“If this had concerned Islam there would have been a really strong reaction,” Sciortino was quoted as saying in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Say what? You want to explain that quote for us, Reuters? That quote, I believe, is an attempt to portray the controversy, but the article fails to explain exactly why the advertisements were offensive. Reuters does offer this background:
In the Bible, Jesus was forced to wear a crown of thorns by mocking Roman guards before he was crucified. In the advertisement, a young man smiles cheekily, wearing a crown whose thorns are twisted into the geometric shapes that are PlayStation’s logo.
Apparently this is not the first time someone has upset European Catholics in advertisements. An IKEA ad attempted to play off the decline of church attendance among Catholic Italians by stating that the furniture chain was open on Sundays and two ads portrayed a modified da Vinci’s Last Supper, one with a female Jesus and “glamorous disciples” and the other showing the followers of Jesus as gamblers and Judas holding his 30 pieces of silver.
I am not one to be offended easily, but I found the ads lacking in good taste. That said, I believe people should find better things to get upset over. Are the faithful in Europe making a mountain out of a molehill? Or are these adverts, as they say across the pond, something Christians — and those of other faiths — should really be concerned about? You can bet your money, as Sciortino said above, that certain radical Muslim groups would have had a few things to say about it.