Porta dos Fundos has hit back at a backlash from Christians in Brazil over its Netflix 2019 Christmas Special, co-founder Fábio Porchat calling the protest “homophobic.”
The reaction, which has seen 1.8 million signatures claimed for a petition calling on Netflix to pull the show, or the government to prohibit it, comes over a 45-minute special, “The First Temptation of Christ,” made available by Netflix on Dec. 3.
Porta dos Fundos co-founder Fábio Porchat told Variety Monday that Netflix and Viacom, which took a majority stake in Porta dos Fundos in 2017, are standing by the special. “It doesn’t incite violence, we’re not saying people shouldn’t believe in God.”
“They [Netflix] haven’t said anything to us like, ‘Maybe we should stop making the special available.’ They support freedom of speech,” Porchat told Variety.
“The First Temptation of Christ” kicks off with Jesus, just 30, returning after 40 days in the desert with a new close friend, Orlando (played by Porchat), who is almost certainly gay, just as his family throws Jesus a surprise 30th birthday party.
The special features a very human God, whom Jesus still thinks at the beginning of the show to be his Uncle Vittorio. God claims he still has the hots for Mary. Mary is caught by God smoking a joint; and Joseph is still rabidly jealous of God. One of the Wise Men brings a prostitute to the party.
What’s really riled the protestors, however, Porchat told Variety, is the suggestion that the Jesus of the Special could be gay.
That, said Porchat, isn’t even totally clear. “We play at insinuating that Jesus has a new friend, and probably this new friend is gay, but they have just been having fun and a very good time in the desert for 40 days.”
“If anybody should be angry with us, it should be the gay community because a gay character turns out to be the Devil. But the gay community loves us!” Porchat said.
The Special makes no claims to historical accuracy whatsoever, piling on anachronisms, such as when God upstages poor Joseph who offers Jesus a wooden flute as a birthday present. God proceeds to unveil an electronic keyboard and offer to teach Jesus Beatles songs.
Jesus, for Porchat, comes out of the show very well: “The show is almost a Christian fairy tale: Jesus faces off bravely with the Devil and then chooses to follow God, accepting to be his son, Jesus Christ.”
“A lot of people, when they see the show, say: “Oh that’s what they were talking about? Ok, that’s O.K., they’re just having fun, no problem at all.”
Porchat added: “For some Catholics here in Brazil, it’s O.K. if Jesus is a bad guy, uses drugs: That’s no problem. The problem is he’s gay. No, he can’t be gay. And that’s interesting because Jesus is everything. God is black and white and gay and straight. God is everything. It’s more homophobic to be insulted by a gay Jesus than to make Jesus special.”
When Jesus is informed that Uncle Vittorio is in fact God, and he’s his son, he fantasizes about meeting a constantly bickering trio of Shiva, Buddha and Jah, who tell him to go for it. Allah is with them, but never seen, having disappeared behind a bush.
“People say that we don’t make fun of Islam,” said Porchat. “We do, we’ve satirized Islamic terrorists, for example. But they are trying to incite other people to violence, which for Catholics is a very un-Catholic thing to do,” he added, saying he “hated” Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, “but I don’t think he should have been stabbed. That’s not democratic, it’s Medieval.”