From Deseret News:
The Kaluga Region court has banned as extremist a painting by Alexander Savko that depicts the Sermon on the Mount with Mickey Mouse sitting on a rock surrounded by halo-clad disciples and admiring onlookers, reports RIA Novosti.
The story’s been covered in Business Insider Europe as well, which provides this handy link to a LiveJournal page which provides the image I’ve displayed above. Plus, a couple years before the image was banned, two prominent Russian intellectuals were found guilty “of inciting religious and ethnic hatred in an exhibition called “Forbidden Art — 2006,” which displayed works that had been banned by Russian museums” including this same painting (New York Times).
Traveling to Germany last month, I was struck by the number and style of irreverent iconic Disney images.
So, am I offended by the Mickey Jesus image? As a person who respects many faiths, I do feel a bit tweaked and disconcerted when I look at it.
I believe that one of art’s many roles is to challenge the viewer. And what I’m really offended by is the reality of what it portrays: That consumerism has trumped spiritual life for many people. As Savko told the Huffington Post:
THE PUPROSE OF THIS PAINTING IS NOT ABUSE OF CHRIST AND NOT ABUSE OF CHRISTIANS. THIS IS DISPLAYING OF CURRENT REALITY: THE SUBSTITUTION OF HUMAN SPIRITUAL, MORAL VALUES WITH MASS-CULTURAL VALUES.
Mickey Mouse is a cultural icon (as are some of his buds); his image belongs to the global, visual language of artistic expression.