Godbaby TM

6 Sep

OK, before we start, this is one of mine, and I’m putting it here because there’s already a lot of debate on Facebook. All I want to do here is to explain the thinking and leave you to make up your own minds. The poster was created for the organisation Churchads.net to create a buzz about Jesus this Christmas, and here it is:

It’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas but we need to get our creative out there so that churches have time to order their posters and other promotional material from us.

Christmas is a busy time and there will be a huge amount of sales and advertising clutter so we needed to create something that would interrupt people and make them think.

On a superficial level, we are selling a doll that has certain special functions. In keeping with the trend that every Christmas throws up a ‘must have’ toy or gadget, Godbaby is what everyone can have for Christmas 2012.

But what about those functions? He cries and he wees – both of these are possible and many dolls already have that capablity. But saving the world? How can a toy do that? It’s simple, it can’t, so we clearly aren’t advertising a toy.

If that’s the case, what are we advertising? The clue’s in the headline. Godbaby. Or, to unpack it, God a s a baby. Christians believe that Christmas is when God arrived on earth in human form as a baby called Jesus of Nazareth. ‘No Shit Sherlock?’ you say. Well, apparently this is new news to a lot of people, particularly kids who have not been brought up in a church environment. Britain is growing ever more secular and as a result, Bible stories are told less often to less people.

The single most important role of this poster is to tell people that Christmas is about God and Jesus, not toys, gizmos, gadgets and the other trappings of the consumerist Christmas.

So why package up the divinity of ‘God made man’ into something that wouldn’t look out of place in Toys R Us? We believe that you need to meet people where they are, and where they are at Christmas is in a retail maelstrom. Christmas is a festival of consumerism for non Christians and Christians alike – we are all caught up in it. So why not use the language of consumerism to describe the Christmas story?

The poster is proving controversial for several reasons. First, the mention of Christ’s bodily functions. We believe that Christ was human and his body conformed to the same physical laws as our bodies. If it hadn’t, his crucifixion wouldn’t have been so terrible.

Second, the baby creeps people out. Well, that’s dolls for you, but also, we don’t want people feeling comfortable with the image. Jesus wasn’t cute, meek, mild or any of the sanitised attributes given to him by the Victorians – he was confrontational, plain talking and, at times, furious.

Thirdly, he’s made of plastic, which some find sacrilegious. That’s really just to make the point of making him a commodity. We had to make him out of something. A flesh and blood child is not something you can buy at Chrustmas, even in Harrods. Besides, Jesus has appeared in all manner of formats over the years – few people have a problem with statues of Jesus made from marble or carved from wood.

No poster can convert anyone into a new belief system, but a poster can provoke the thinking that leads to this. Jesus is already on the margins of the modern Christmas retailfest. If our poster means that just some of the conversational buzz at Christmas is about Jesus,  our work is done.

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