Last night, my wife and I went to see The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis for a date after a long week of work. I expected it to be pretty low brow, and it was more or less off my radar other than thinking the trailers looked funny, but nevertheless, we chose to see it. And at the end of it, I left the theater feeling like I had fallen in a septic tank. The copious amounts of invasive, sexual humor just coated me in this film that made me feel disgusted when it was over.
Their plan worked.
See, I am pretty sure their plan was to make me feel uncomfortable. But what I don’t think they intended was the commentary on the filthiness of the American political system. Greed, corruption, adultery, deceit, violence, slander, religious posturing for votes, embellished patriotism for supporters; these are all things that are present in our current political conscience, and many of them are a part of campaign tactics. But the movie plays Galifianakis’ character Marty Huggins as the goofy, loveable imbecile who is the one who stands for what he believes. And in the end, all is made right. (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) Marty doesn’t “win” the election, but is handed it by his opponent because he sees goodness in him, and then Marty lets the dogs out on the corrupt business men who tried to manipulate the whole thing. Things are right, all is well, the political system is upheld. This is all well and good, except one tiny problem.
This is fiction. Not reality.
Marty Huggins was prone to corruption during the campaign. He stooped to the level of Cam Brady (MORE SPOILERS); getting him drunk and allowing him to drive home, shooting him with a rifle in the leg, manipulating his son for a campaign ad… there is more, but it is irrelevant. He was brought to the low level of his rival. And he also left his financial backers when they said they were essentially selling his district to China, and he went after them later with his newly gained power. But, he was still corrupted. So, what now stops him from succumbing to other pressures, like lobbyists pushing him to sign into law something that would keep his constituency, but goes against his morals, or even his desires for his office as representative. No person is an adequate representative of the desires of another.
And this is where the Subversion of the Day come into play. Let’s give it it’s own title-
Subversion of the Day: Engage in Critical Conversation Over
Popular Culture, and Point it Back to Christ
Christ is the only legitimate, accurate representative we have. He knows our best interests, and actually wants them to come to pass. He is not bound by the continuance of His office as King of Kings- it is eternal, and without realistic challenge. He does not have to uphold the whims of his constituency, but instead, works together all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. He is King. So why do we think we need people who are prone to corruption because their OFFICE is prone to corruption making decisions that relegate our freedom? WE ARE ALREADY FREE! To live in the Kingdom means not to challenge the authorities in a violent, aggressive way, or even really in a political way. It is to live differently. To not disobey laws, but live as though legislation is not necessary, because grace fills our lives, and we guide each other.
One last thing. Marty Huggins is a good example of change though, in his pre-corrupt stage. He is weird, he is a little dumb, and he is viewed as weak and silly. But he cares. This is foolishness to the system he works in. And the cross of Christ is foolishness to the world- it is weak, shameful, weird, dumb, and silly. We must be these things to point out the corruption and death around us. We must be like Christ, and live differently, and not allow ourselves to be corrupted by the systems of this world. We must be subversive.
This brings us full circle to the Subversion of the Day- engage in critical conversation over popular culture, and point it back to Christ. Use the interests of the world around you to point others to the truth of reality, which ultimately, is that Christ changes things, and His Kingdom is better than all others, and it will reign after all others crumble. Subvert the powers today.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”
“You are a king then?” Pilate asked.
“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”
“What is truth?” said Pilate