As if there weren't enough religious simpletons and zealots out there foaming at the mouth and decrying everything that President Obama does as an act of the anti-Christ and/or leading America toward the End Times and Armageddon, the History Channel's "The Bible," a series produced by reality show wizard Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, went and cast a guy who looks like an older, darker, more intense Barack Obama as Satan himself. Yes, that is correct. As Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, the Dark Angel, or whatever you want to call the rebellious angel Jehovah tossed out of heaven. And if you're thinking that it's merely a coincidence that this actor playing Satan looks a bit like Obama, you're most likely wrong.
Buzzfeed was quick to jump on the story (just an hour after it aired its sixth episode on Sunday, March 17), especially after it started trending in social media venues like Twitter. Comments began to fly, mostly simple remarks about how much the actor playing Satan resembled the president. Some talked about art imitating life (which shows how much they know, because one thing "The Bible" mini-series is not is "art").
But why would those producing and directing and casting, et. al., have done such a thing? For two reasons: 1) They knew it would cause a stir, which it has, bringing controversy to a mediocre retelling of the Judeo-Christian Bible's most famous stories and, thus, possibly prompting more to watch the rest of the series and perhaps buy it when it is offered as a DVD set. And 2) Those in charge of the artistic direction of the mini-series used an actor that resembles Obama because they knew it would resonate with the evangelical Christian contingent, vocal and vehement opponents to Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. There might be more than a few Catholics that see the president as Satan incarnate as well, especially after the Obamacare controversy that required hospitals to dispense contraceptives, something the Catholic Church and other religious sects opposed in favor of a religious objection exemption and forced out of the final Obamacare provisions.
Some might think that there could be a third possibility: Burnett and Downey (or someone associated with the production) were politically motivated to cast President Obama in as poor a light as possible, which is why "Satan" looks like a severe Obama cut in the mold of "Star Wars" arch-villain, Emperor Palpatine (an image that resonates with the anyone alive since the 1980s). However, this might bog down under close inspection, since Burnett gave a political contribution, according to CampaignMoney.com, to Obama's 2008 campaign. Yet, it might be telling that there was no such contribution made toward the president's reelection, which might indicate Burnett had revised his political opinions of Obama.
Burnett and Downey have said that they felt called upon to do the mini-series. Burnett told CBS News in an interview that making "The Bible" was a "spiritual" thing, not commercial. Downey, who is a devout Catholic, plays Mary in the series, said that it was "God’s idea placed in my heart.”
And yet, the entire Obama resemblance thing might truly be a coincidence nobody noticed until after actor Mehdi Ouazzani was cast and the scenes were shot. But that is extremely difficult to believe, given the final image -- that confluence of features that evoke both Palpatine and Obama in the portrayal of Jesus Christ's tempting nemesis, Satan.
So, is there a direct implication here? Perhaps. But, like so many presidents that came before him and were labeled the anti-Christ (like Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and others), Barack Obama will undoubtedly prove to be no fallen angel or Satan incarnate. He'll serve out his time as president and go on to write books and join philanthropic causes.
But if History Channel's "The Bible" was trying to convey some portentious armageddonist message with their image, they may well have done it -- because actor Mehdi Ouazzani, all hoodied-up and looking austerely evil and thuggish and severe, certainly does bear a strong resemblance to an aged Obama.
But that might not be the case. It should be remembered that there might not be a direct implication here, just a bid toward ratings, targeted at a receptive audience.
That still doesn't make the president the Devil himself. Or the anti-Christ. Because if he was, he would undoubtedly be better at convincing others to follow his lead...