Paul L. Caron

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Inazu: What The Left And The Right Get Wrong About The 'He Gets Us' Super Bowl Jesus Ads

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), Misplaced Outrage Over a Super Bowl Ad:

[O]ne of the most commented parts of this past Sunday’s Super Bowl was a series of ads called “He Gets Us.”

As CNN reports, the Super Bowl ads are part of a larger media campaign that launched last year on television, billboards, and social media. CNN describes the ads as “portraying the pivotal figure of Christianity as an immigrant, a refugee, a radical, an activist for women’s rights and a bulwark against racial injustice and political corruption.” The two ads cost around $20 million and are part of a larger multiyear effort to portray an image of Jesus that challenges negative public perceptions of Christianity. As the “He Gets Us” website announces: “He Gets Us has an agenda,” which is to ask “how might we all rediscover the promise of the love his story represents?”

Commentators on the Left labeled the ads “right-wing” and “fascist” ... Meanwhile, some conservative Christians critiqued the ads for being “unbiblical” ...

The partisan reactions to the “He Gets Us” ads are unsurprising. What I found more surprising in this case was the degree of mental gymnastics required to watch these ads and conclude that they are either “right-wing” or “a fake unbiblical Jesus.” ...

Some progressive commentators recoil at even the mention of Jesus and assume it must represent conservative politics. Conversely, some Christian conservatives reject appeals to Jesus that hint at anything other than an Americanized Jesus who shares their cultural and political values. ...

For what it’s worth, if I had $20 million to spend on sharing my faith or living out my convictions, I wouldn’t do it through Super Bowl ad buys. And I’m not sure I’d use all of the imagery that shows up in these particular ads. There’s plenty to critique about the use of money in this campaign and the narrative crafting of these particular ads. But I’d rather be having those conversations than rhetorical attacks based on implausible characterizations of the ads.

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