Is it worse to glam up Mary, or to shit next to a manger?

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Mornin’ all.

It’s retro music time. “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals is on at the moment. I can’t think of any other song where the organ upstages the guitar. Shred that organ, man.

“Crimson and Clover” is next in the queue. Pardon me if I pause to rock the hell out from time to time.

This has been a nostalgia week in general, though mostly the not good kind. You know how sometimes you get into one of those fuzzy-camera-lens periods where the sun flares rainbows over all your warm memories to the backdrop of autumn leaves tumbling down a country lane?

Yeah, not that.

This was one of those “THINK OF EVERY WAY YOU FAILED LOSER” journeys. You know what I mean. Sometimes your Memory gains control and is all, “Hey. Hey, bud. Psst. Over here. Remember in sixth grade when you were super happy to wear that new green striped sweater because you didn’t realize it made you look even fatter or that the green was the wrong shade of green? Good thing you had a classroom full of girls who would point it out to you! Hey, did you ever get over the embarrassment of crying in front of them? Lemme go ask Emotions how she still feels about it…”

You can see why I had to break out some old classic rock. I’m hoping the smokin’ organ riffs and ripping guitars can end my trip down memory pain.

I went to the dump the other day. Oh, sorry. I mean, the transfer station…which is just a high falutin’ dump. While there, not one, but TWO campaigners for Hillary Clinton approached me to try to entice me to vote for Clinton.

Campaigning at a DUMP??

I know they want to reach a large audience, and the fancy dump here in town is THE place to be on a Saturday morning. But, it’s still a dump. It’s the place you go to get rid of all your stinky garbage. Why in the hell would Clinton want her name tied with that mental image?

There’s a lot of psychology involved in getting votes. When it’s time for casting, the last thing the Clinton campaign wants is for people’s memories to conjure stinky garbage when they look at the little box next to her name. It’s just baffling why they thought it was a good idea.

Besides, they were so very out of place. That aspect alone made it uncomfortably comical. Close your eyes and picture a Hillary campaigner. They were both exactly that. Now, put those thirty-something yuppies in a redneck dump. Surrounded by rednecks. And trash. It was honestly like something out of a bad sitcom.

One of them asked me, “Can I speak with you about Hillary Clinton?”

I said, “Nope.”

What I should have said was, “Lady, I’ve got the week’s worth of stink in my wagon and I’m just trying ditch it and get away from my family’s refuse as fast as possible.”

NOBODY wants to hang around a dump and chit chat about foreign policy.

Teen Prime said, “Now, if it was a Trump campaigner, that would make sense.”

And it would rhyme, too! Oh the fun you could have. Dump for Trump. Dump with Trump. Trump at the dump. Be a chump with Trump at the dump. There are just so many ways you could go with it, and all of them would make the ferret headed man-child pat-a-cake with glee. Maybe I should email the Trump campaign and pass on the idea? I bet if I said, “Hillary is totally smoking you in dump polls,” they’d be booking themselves some stinky stomping grounds before I could even finish the sentence.

“In A Gadda Da Vida” now. It’s a bit weird listening to it at 5:00 am with coffee in my hand instead of vodka and no one telling me they love me, man…nah, like, for real…but it’s still a good song.

So I went on to read the news. I wanted to maybe do a Roundup, because it’s been awhile, but the headlines were all either lame or about death and murder. I do have lines, as nebulous as they may seem at times. However, one article did catch my attention.

“Barbie as Mary Gets Argentinian Artist Duo in Hot Water”

Oooh. Gotta be good, right?

The Argentinian artist team of Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini have created an art installation of Barbie dolls that are dressed up as famous religious figures. To be clear, the dolls are one-offs for a display, not being mass produced, and, at this point in time, not up for sale in any way. That needs to be said, because a big part of the controversy seems to stem from people thinking the artists have plans to pump these Barbies out left and right.

Though other religions are represented in the display with figures such as Buddha and Kali, it is certainly a Christian-centric art installation overall. That’s no surprise. The overwhelming religious majority in Argentina is Catholicism. The Christian figures span the range from what I’d consider classic nativity characters, to Joan of Arc and Spanish Crusaders. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about:

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It wouldn’t be news if it wasn’t considered controversial. Religious leaders “around the world” are upset. So upset, in fact, that this is the second attempt at holding the exhibit. The first one closed before it ever opened due to death threats deemed “very significant” and “highly credible” against not only the artists, but the owner of the previous venue slated for the display.

People, forgive the expression in this circumstance, but…what the hell?

Why are people so upset?

Let’s see if we can dissect this.

The vast majority of the public outcry is coming from Christians. In fact, while a Hindu group spoke out against the display, they also spoke out against the threats that the artists were receiving. They don’t like the installment, stated their feelings, and are willing to simply not attend.

The Christians were not of the same mind.

In fact, it is widely accepted that it was a group of devout Catholics that issued the very real death threats the first time, backed by the local authorities. No, for real. Instead of offering the artists protection, local law enforcement and government officials made public comments against the artists, saying that the artists were making a mockery of religion and that they should have petitioned the government for a permit to make something so controversial so the government could tell them not to do it in the first place.

Political speak for “GIT ‘EM!!!”

Since the majority of the outrage is coming from Christians, specifically Catholics in Argentina but all sects globally, let’s take a look at their main complaints. Ooh! I know. Let’s make a list. We like lists!

Reasons that Christians want to Kill Artists Over Barbie Religious Figurines:

1. They make a profit off religion and that is a no no.

2. By turning important figures into toys, the artists have made a mockery of Christianity.

…er…that’s it. I guess we didn’t really have to do it in list format, huh?

I’mma go ahead and get that first ridiculous, insane, stupid reason to be up in arms about this out of the way in two words:

Christmas decorations.

Actually, why stop there? Not just Christmas decor…ALL religion-centric home decor. Velvet Jesus posters, praying Mary hands, light up crucifixes, decorative rosary beads, cross necklaces, “Jesus Loves Me” embroidered pillows… I could go on, but I don’t think I need to.

“Okay, Bethie, but Argentina is far more devout than the admittedly lax US. Surely they adhere to a more strict observation of the tenets of…”

Near Buenos Aires is a town called Lujan. In Lujan, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary, the only woman the Catholic church ever considered to be important. People not only flock to the church that was built to house the statue, but they walk away with souvenirs from the many gift shops. Mini copies of the statue, Mary necklaces, photos of the statue and church, prayer cards…

Prayer cards.

They SELL PRAYERS. If that’s not profiting off a religion, I don’t know what is.

“Yes, but the Barbie artists do it by making a mockery of Christianity. It’s not the same.”

Isn’t it, though?

Let’s take a look at the nativity portion of the installation. Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph. Now, let’s look at some other nativity sets that are commercially available.

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Wait a second. That’s…that’s a nativity set made out of children’s toys. Someone has already taken a very serious, deeply important Bible story and make a toy set of it? Where’s the outrage? Where are the death threats? Where are the authorities up in arms about such a vile mockery?

That set has been sold for years. It’s got 4.5 stars on Amazon, with many ecstatic reviewers saying it’s a great way to teach the Bible story to kids.

Here’s another.

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Uh…ducks? That’s, um…different.

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My initial reaction to this was to balk, but then I realized it’s a Canadian set. Can’t be controversial if it’s Canadian, right?

In fact, none of the above sets have raised anyone’s ire. Well, maybe people were upset with the ducks, but that’s probably because they’re so poorly rendered. Look at it again. What the hell are those wise men offering for gifts? Cheese and a turkey leg? And what’s with Mary’s hair? Yikes, lady. It’s not a 70’s swinger party.

My point is that people have been adding their own twist to religion for years. Yes, even Christianity. ESPECIALLY Christianity. People do this to create a personal bond with the stories they’re reading. They’re trying to relate, and to put the story in relatable terms for their children.

Balloonman Jesus is a-okay.

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Claymation Joseph is a bit of a dick for ignoring Mary’s suffering there, but this figure set is still okay.

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Snow globe head Mary is, frankly, a hot mess…but okay.

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And it all HAS to be okay. Because if one is acceptable, they’re ALL acceptable. If you let your kids play with the Little People nativity set, you cannot pretend to be up in arms about Mary Barbie. You just can’t.

Now, I’m not into the whole WWJD thing. But I can guarantee that WWJ-NOT-D is issue death threats against an artist turning the most popular doll set to ever exist into classic religious figures.

I think all the outrage is silly. In a world where Caganers exist, and have since the 17th century, free from controversy or zealous religious ire, there’s certainly room for Barbie Mary.

…you’ve never heard of a Caganer?

Here. Without my help, see if you can spot the oddball in the mix.

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Okay, so maybe there’s a bit of prompting on my part. And no, that’s not someone’s idea of a funny holiday prank. In the general France-y area of the world, it’s a tradition to place a shitting figurine in the nativity set.

And no, that’s not a typo. The dude is taking a shit.

“…uh….Whaaaa???”

Yep! And it doesn’t have to be a little elf. In fact, it’s very popular to get figurines in the likenesses of favorite leaders or celebrities taking a dump for Christ. Google it. I’ll wait.

“…HOW…”

I see you now have the glazed look of someone who has seen too much. Glad we’re on the same page!

The tradition began around the end of the 17th century and is loosely supposed to be about the Caganer nourishing the earth.

…at least that’s the bullshit reason they give now. I believe it probably started out as a political commentary and spread in popularity as a way to subtly stick it to the man. You know, relegating a recognizable politician or leader to the same status as the ox and pigs in the barn. That makes a hell of a lot more sense than the current popular explanation given by the French when a confused visitor sees someone literally shitting on Christmas.

So before you get mad that two artists have turned a popular doll into symbols of different religions, just remember that somewhere across the sea right now, someone is standing in a shopping mall Noel store trying to decide if they should buy the Kanye Caganer, or if Kim would be more appropriate to shit next to the baby Jesus this year.

Perspective, folks. It’s all about perspective.

Thus concludes a Musing for Monday, October 26, 2015. I’ve got housework on the docket today. Boo. Maybe it’s time to break out the big guns go full “Nights in White Satin”…