Christian Kitsch #5: Apologetix
Friends, readers, fellow denizens of the Internet. Recall my last post on the Christian parody industry, that most entrepreneurial arena of branding exploitation and forced, witless puns that would make James Joyce’s eyepatch flip in dismay. I have yet to thoroughly articulate the demonic terror-scapes of Contemporary Christian Music, mainly because I do not wish to tempt Death, but this post could serve as a mercifully brief introduction to it. The contemporary Christian culture industry has made its coin and notoriety by serving as a sanitized and anemic copy of the secular culture industry, which is then marketed to Christian youths and parents as a balm in a warped and corrupt worldly culture. From bizarro Archie comics to T-shirts to pop music vacated of all sexuality.
What makes Apologetix so objectionable, and therefore worth considering in isolation from the main stream of CCM is its intersection with Christian parody and “humour.” The band comes from a lovely city, Pittsburgh, and has built up a solid fanbase over a career spanning twenty years and nineteen albums. Ahem. It should be noted, however, that though the spirit of this band is lighthearted indeed, the point of their songs seems to me not so much to parody or satirize classic rock and pop hits but rather to purify them of anything verging on unacceptable to a radio-listening Christian audience. Their work is pitched straight at a fabricated demographic, that, sadly, I can confirm has some incarnation in the real world. Before discussing their style and substance–or what there is of it–let us listen to an example of their work.
Now, Apologetix normally covers crusty and ubiquitous white artists like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, the Eagles, and the like. They tend to avoid black artists, which I think is a good strategy. On the other hand, they have to appeal to the slightly edgier suburban crowd that loves “Gold Digger” and Eminem and the like (don’t get me started on their parody of a Limp Bizkit song), which means they need to rap and try to imitate Jamie Fox’s Ray Charles impression, thereby vampirically draining all soul and humour from the song and turning it into a desperately stupid polemic against evolution. Nothing in this song indicates that the parodeers have anything other than a basic aptitude for music, and their merits as wordsmiths are more than questionable. There is nothing in the song’s soulful vibe and upbeat, slightly ironic bounce that would make it suitable for this kind of adaptation. Not only this, but unlike in Weird Al’s work–and I am dreadfully sorry for dragging his name into this–the jokes rarely land and when they do it’s with a heavy thump that can elicit laughter only from the most snide and juvenile creationists.
I think that is more than enough about this band at present. While you’re here, though, you might want to cleanse yourself with some life-affirming antidotes I’ve whipped up just for this occasion. Let no one say that tigers are inhospitable to their readers. Adieu.