A religious group in England is terribly upset at the lack of respect their beliefs have received lately. In particular, they are indignant at the mockery made of one of their holy sites.
(Careful on clicking through—fortunately, I saw this at a late hour of the night, or my howls of laughter might have disturbed my colleagues.)
You see, someone painted another figure next to the Cerne Abbas giant.
And just to compound the humor, The Pagan Federation has vowed to turn their rain magic against Homer and wash him away. Comedy piled on top of farce stacked with absurdity, if you ask me, and the funniest thing I’ve seen in days.
ANdrew Bolton says
Brilliant. Of course, as there is no evidence of its existence before the 17th century, the homer painting is quite possibly more in the spirit of the original than the beliefs of modern pagans (or neo pagans or whatever they call themselves) about it.
David MWW says
How dare they disrespect this sacred symbol of manhood by painting His revered image next to the crude 17th-century folly that is the Cerne Abbas giant.
Ken MacLeod says
Yes, it is funny, but I have some sympathy for the pagans over this one. Heck, I find the thing somewhat offensive myself. It’s cultural vandalism, even if temporary.
And now it’s even been animated!
WOOHOO!! USA! USA! USA!
Pagans should eat my shorts. As already mentioned, there’s no
proof the giant is anything to do with paganism, there’s a
popular theory that it was a tit-for-tat insult between
land owners. To understand how ridiculous the pagans are you
only need to know that the current incumbent of Lambeth
Palace was inducted as an honorary druid back in 2002.
Religion is for losers :*)
Richard Carter, FCD says
It’s been raining for about a month over here in the UK, so I won’t be at all surprised if their ‘rain magic’ works.
Cultural vandalism? Of what culture? Of the 17th-century Britons who carved the thing into the ground with no cultural overtones? Or of the loosely aggregated, poorly defined group of people who use magical thinking and pseudohistory to justify the flat-out silly claims of a century-old religion?
These people think that “pagan” is a positive designation instead of merely a historical dumping word for “Everyone that isn’t Christian or Jewish.” D’oh!
As Homer himself once famously said “God bless those Pagans”
Ivor the Engine Driver says
Or of the loosely aggregated, poorly defined group of people who use magical thinking and pseudohistory to justify the flat-out silly claims of a century-old religion?
Florida? BUt that’s America’s wang!
Richard Carter, FCD says
The Guardian is running a caption competition under the headline ‘Homer Erectus’ (very droll!):
It’s sad to see so many people down on the pagans because it’s only a century old religion. I don’t see how being older than that makes any religion any less silly.
As for Ken MacLeod and his “cultural vandalism”, eat my shorts. If they had painted Homer over the giant, maybe. Painted next to the giant it’s just funny.
and proof that crop circles are giant Matt Groening donuts, too :)
“And now it’s even been animated!”
I a glad someone took the time to do that!
Most of the pagans I’ve met have been soft thinking twerps who think that their faith is millenia old. They’ve claimed loads of ancient looking momuments or land features as their own across the UK they deserve a good take down and if Homer is the cartoon character to do so then crack on!
Ian Gould says
“Yes, it is funny, but I have some sympathy for the pagans over this one. Heck, I find the thing somewhat offensive myself. It’s cultural vandalism, even if temporary.”
It could have been worse.
I would have posed Homer a little lower and taking a leak.
Pete Berry says
When my then 3yo saw the Cerne Abbas giant he shouted out to the group of tourists we were with “Look!” “Look!” “His willy’s upside down!”
Ian Gould says
“Florida? BUt that’s America’s wang!”
I believe the formal name, as per the Daily Show is “Flaccid penis with tiny ball-sack”.
MJ Memphis says
Isn’t using “rain magic” in perpetually-soggy Britain about as impressive as using “mosquito magic” in Louisiana? If the pagans really want to get attention, they’ll need to call up some more spectacular form of precipitation.
Ian Gould says
“It’s sad to see so many people down on the pagans because it’s only a century old religion. I don’t see how being older than that makes any religion any less silly.”
Having met some perfectly nice Scientologists and Mormons, I think the newer religions are deserving of just as much (or as little) respect as the older ones.
Roll that doughnut, Homer, and let’s see the Cerne Abbas dude fly!
Having met some perfectly nice Scientologists and Mormons, I think the newer religions are deserving of just as much (or as little) respect as the older ones.
I’ve also met some perfectly nice Scientologists and Mormons. And I feel sorry for them in the same way I feel sorry for kids being taught that evolution is wrong in Christian private schools. Brainwashing.
ROFLMAO^x. That’s indeed the funniest blasphemy I’ve seen in a very long time.
Perhaps I should have elaborated:
Their many, many claims to their “ancient” pedigree, whether they’re talking about Greeks or Jutes or druids, Celts or Saxons, the various “evidence” they bring forth to support their claims to ancienthood, so to speak, are so amazingly pathetic that I can’t help but throw some extra scorn their way. Before I ever found out the history of their little religion, I thought to myself “Damn, that shit seems like they just made a bunch of stuff up and then ad hoc anything into it that they like!”
Granted that can arguably describe most any religion, but from my perspective, their justifications and claims are so pathetically simpleminded, so terribly transparent, that I miss no opportunity to crap all over them.
Anyone who can, quite seriously, wake up in the morning and say prayers to Samhain and Odin and Eostre and Set, or Ra, or Zeus, or that generalized, nebulous, and ridiculous “Earth Mother Goddess” so many of them are so fond of has some serious pantheon problems.
Akusai, I fail to see any difference between a worshipper of Earth Mother Goddess and any other monotheist. It just means their god o’choice ate all the others up.
Which reminds me that cheeses is the first documented zombie. Died, arose, and is still eating brains.
Folklore claims you get increased fertility by making love while in the phallus of the guy on the right.
According to a friend of mine, if you fall asleep in the drawing at left, you will wake up with your mate’s hair looking like the bride of frankensteins, and your belly will gain two inches :P
Oh, I totally understand: religion is religion, and their gods are no less fictional than any others. I just personally feel that the pagans are a whole hell of a lot sillier and more pathetic in their reasoning. I’m not really sure I have any rational basis for my feelings on the extra silliness of paganism, but I can’t help feeling that way. I’ll give you that pagans are by far some of the most innocuous and easiest to get along with of all the various religious folks, but they’re just so damn silly!
Ah, but you forget some other famous divine zombies, though he’s the only one that isn’t, at the moment, starving for brains. There’s Dionysus, Horus, and Mithras, to name a few. Then, in the Bible itself, there’s Lazarus, whom Jesus raised to life before his crucifixion. And then there’s my favorite, Osiris, one of the most morbid gods ever: he was murdered by Set, chopped into pieces, and scattered. Isis put the pieces back together with linens and brought him back to life as the first mummy.
So maybe he isn’t entirely a zombie, but he died and was brought back, and it seems to me that a mummy, basically, is just a zombie wrapped in bandages.
Well, you do have a point on the silliness factor. So many of the other religios I see take themselves really damn seriously, and too many want to rule us all. Of course, we don’t see many pagans on this side of the pond. They’d be tried as witches (A WITCH!! A WITCH!! BURN HER! BURN HER!) or some such.
Ian H Spedding FCD says
ROTFLMAO! That’s brilliant!
I can think of a lot of other religious monuments/symbols/icon that could benefit from the same treatment, too. Humour is by far the most effective take-down for pretentiousness.
How dare they disrespect my disrespect of their religion!
Blake Stacey says
The Cerne Abbas giant gets re-chalked every twenty-five years. Seems to be a large-scale kind of graffiti of Theseus.
#25 “”Damn, that shit seems like they just made a bunch of stuff up and then ad hoc anything into it that they like!” Granted that can arguably describe most any religion, but from my perspective, their justifications and claims are so pathetically simpleminded, so terribly transparent, that I miss no opportunity to crap all over them.”
The same could have been said about Christianity by a secular minded Roman back in the 2nd century. Give the Wiccans a few centuries and with a little luck, they will transform their beliefs into the dogmatic monoliths that are Christianity, Mormonism, Islam…..
The Sheril Krishenbaum’s, Luna_the_cat’s et al will still be around arguing that we can’t make fun of them because they elect the politicians who control funding for science. So stop being outspoken, uppity, angry and militant. We’ve got to be nice to them (no matter how idiotic their beliefs) and stop acting like non-theist fundamentalists, whatever the hell that means.
Probably the most poignant passage in the entire Christian bible is attributed to Solomon in Ecclesiastes…”What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Christian Burnham says
That’s the weirdest advert for Viag*a I’ve ever seen.
John C. Randolph says
I’ve met quite a few newage (rhymes with sewage) woo-woos in my time who purport to be pagan or “wiccan”, as they prefer to call themselves, and not a one of them has yet convinced me that they actually believe their own tripe. I’m not sure whether pretending to be superstitious is sillier than actual superstition.
Richard, FCD says
I don’t see the disrespect. Disrespect would have been if Homer was not wearing his y-fronts, and he was better endowed.
Richard, FCD says
@#34 – if you have an erection that lasts longer than four centuries, seek medical attention.
Cultural vandalism? No. It is cultural evolution and while we think it is funny it may be the sign of our undoing.
Has our culture evolved to the point where we are symbolized by a donut eating diaper wearing numbskull? Oh ahhh never mind.
There’s really one religion whose adherents believe in most/all of those? Wow. I haven’t seen such a diverse hodgepodge of gods since season five of Stargate: SG-1.
Wow, what great advertising. Very sophistimacated.
Thanks PZ, I just shot my morning coffee out my nose!
I’ll bet the Brit’s will love it when it increases tourism…..
“Having met some perfectly nice Scientologists and Mormons, I think the newer religions are deserving of just as much (or as little) respect as the older ones.”
You should probably study a little more about the church of scientology at http://www.xenu.net if you don’t understand why the organization worries people. The lay only provide backing for such a horrible organization.
I’m stumped. What kind of pastry is the Giant brandishing?
Until they start lashing folks to trees with their own innards (like Druids), tearing animals to pieces with their teeth in an orgiastic frenzy (ala the Orphic Mysteries) and/or ritualistically fornicating with animals (as ancient Egyptians did) I don’t want to hear word one about how ancient their beliefs are.
And when did this “So that it harm none…” crap get tacked onto Crowley’s Thelemic Law? Are they Jains now? No? Then shut it!
Neo-pagans irritate me immensley, both as a historian and a mystic.
The Pedantic One has to clarify for JamesR that Homer is not wearing a diaper, but rather “whitey tighties” (briefs).
That’s not cultural vandalism; it’s just satire. Homer’s image does not damage the giant’s image, and the former is only temporary. Cultural vandalism in contrast, does damage something irreplaceable, such as blowing ancient Buddha sculptures to smithereens. Burning one of thousands of identical factory-made flags is protest; burning a one-of-a-kind flag of historical interest is vandalism.
Blake Stacey, OM says
Now THAT’S guerilla marketing!
The Simpson’s Movie comes out this summer.
‘fertility’ symbol? It’s carrying a club, a weapon used to beat people into submission. Why isn’t it assumed to be a rape icon?
Mike A. says
Is it satire? Or is an ad for the upcoming Simpsons movie, chalked out on the ground to take advantage of the viral nature of the internet?
If it is an ad, I’d almost say it was cultural vandalism–not of the pagan’s culture, though, but of everybody’s.
The club is not being used as a weapon in this instance. The giant is using sympathetic magic to enhance his organ. (Seems to me the magic isn’t working in his case, though.)
But… if the Cerne Abbas giant is a fertility symbol… why does it have such a small erection?
They should have picked me (but they’d need a bigger hill!)
@Steve_C That was the first thing that I thought as well.
Ribbed for her pleasure?
Get over it Mike.
The Simpson’s Rule!
Richard Harris, FCD says
I live about 15 miles from Cerne Abbas. And I’ve heard nothing about this partner for the giant. It’s gotta be a hoax.
And why Homer Simpson? A well-stacked girlfriend would be more appropriate.
What I’d have liked to see would be Moses, Jesus, & Muhammad, grouped at the giant’s feet, about to be flattened by his club.
Wow! Ken MacLeod, my second favourite SF author, commenting on Pharyngula.
I think the reason many (including myself) see paganism/wicca, scientology, and even mormonism as having an extra dose of silly is that, while the adherents of the older religions, such as the abrahamic ones, can use the muddled haze of history as an excuse for not recognizing their faith as a sham, many of the believers of these modern make-believe systems are old enough to have been around while some dude was sitting around making the religion up.
It takes a special kind of goofball, someone not just receptive to superstition, but deeply needful of it, to be sucked into something like that.
The image does look too good.
Any evidence it’s a hoax?
Wouldn’t be difficult to photoshop that or maybe the a drone UFO put it there.
I suppose it could be intended only to get a rise out of the neo-pagans.
Sven DiMilo says
Clootie (#43) is right–that’s not a club, it’s either a huge cruller or a churro. Insert into Homer’s pink-frosted donut (w/ sprinkles) and you’ve got a real symbol of fertility (if a bit yeasty).
I am so smart! I am so smart! I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T!
Rey Fox says
“It’s cultural vandalism, even if temporary.”
It’s taking the piss, is what it is. And it’s on the neighboring parcel. No harm, no foul.
That is, if it’s real. Isn’t the Sun one of those papers we shouldn’t trust? (Enlighten a yankee)
Dr Dan H. says
The real joke of all this is that the Cerne Abbas giant is very likely not prehistoric at all. You see, just down the road from there there used to be a monastery; you know, lots of very religious men with lots of hangups about sex and a penchant for writing everything down, and controlling local economies.
Nowhere in the well-preserved archives of Cerne Abbas monastery is the giant mentioned; nowhere.
Logically, if it had existed, it would have been mentioned,and quite possibly obliterated. Medieval people were a bit funny about pagan relics; they destroyed them or built churches on them and so on.
The best explanation for the thing is that it is English Civil War age, and intended to be a mocking representation of Oliver Cromwell, the nakedness, huge club and genitalia being intended to poke fun (ahem) at the dour, Puritan Cromwell.
Certainly it is only at this time that records of the thing turn up, and there’s no record of it before then (whilst other landscape features do get mentioned).
So, not for the first time, Pagans are busy getting all worked up about something that hasn’t actually got anything to do with their spurious religion and in fact is much more like Homer Simpson the cartoon than a Pagan figure…
There was an interview with the guy who owns the field on the highly respected BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme.
I therefore think it’s not a hoax but don’t live near to the giant – wonder if it’s going to turn up in Google Earth (Homer that is)? Apparently the local inhabitants and particularly school kids love it. Doesn’t hurt that the parish council leader is a big Simpsons fan either.
Clootie, that’s clearly a maple-frosted longjohn.
You wanna see a fast-spreading cult? Just wait ’til Tim Horton’s starts opening franchises in the UK.
Kausik Datta says
I tried looking up the Cerne Abbas Giant in Google Earth. Sadly, their database image is not recent enough to show Homer beside him.
Richard FCD, @#37 – I almost fell off my chair laughing!!
Arnaud, @#4 – I just LOVED the animated GIF image!!
Let’s see… A doughnut-brandishing fat man in underpants and a club-waving skinny guy with a woody, seems to me that it’s just a modern spin on the original.
Funny, the pagans I know have a much better sense of humor and would just love it, especially the animation!
Martin R says
Cool! A few years back some people made a wife for the giant, sort of a female mirror image with boobs and long hair and no ding-dong. The wife wasn’t painted, though, she was made by sticking a wide white plastic ribbon to the ground with nails.
Karl Rove II says
FATHER: Stop that, stop that! You’re not going to do a song while I’m here. Now listen lad, in twenty minutes you’re getting married to a girl whose father owns the biggest tracts of open land in Britain.
HERBERT: But I don’t want land.
FATHER: Listen, Alex,–
FATHER: Herbert. We live in a bloody swamp. We need all the land we can get.
HERBERT: But I don’t like her.
FATHER: Don’t like her?! What’s wrong with her? She’s beautiful, she’s rich, she’s got huge… tracts of land.
Love the enormous pecker…
Honestly, as a pagan? I think that’s funny as hell. Anyone who says otherwise takes himself too seriously. The animation’s even better.
As for being down on pagans? I can see that, too. There are a lot of newage-rhymes-with-sewage twerps going around giving the rest of us a bad name… in fact, it might be the other way around, those of us that are sensible are giving the twerps an undeserved reputation.
Don’t get upset about the inclusiveness of polytheism, though. That’s possibly the only aspect of modern paganism with solid historical antecedents. Your basic historical polytheists might be described as hedge-your-bets worshipers. If they encountered a god they weren’t previously aware of, they found out what sacrifices that god needed right quick, because they didn’t want to piss it off. That embrace-and-enfold philosophy part of the reason so many Indo-European pantheons bear such striking similarities. (You want to see pantheon problems? Look at Egyptian myth in any depth.)
A real druid would have wild-shaped into a dire badger to dig up Homer and then cast a maximized call lightning to obliterate the sacrilegous dirt.
Unfortunately, I fear that the figure on the left isn’t Homer Simpson, but an impostor. Observe that, contrary to all logic and common sense, the grass is greener on ersatz-Homer’s side of the fence.
Its like disrespecting the back of a public toilet door.
How so passé. Homer’s artist must be an imposter. I don’t think Homer would set himself up in pair of Jockey shorts to challenge the Cerne Abbas Giant when he’s showing his manhood. Hasn’t Homer got some manhood? Must be a imposter.
Ah, the smell of American cultural imperialism in the morning: a Mc-Bucks on every high street, and endless Hollywood marketing gimmicks ripping off other people’s heritage. Go USA!
Your basic historical polytheists might be described as hedge-your-bets worshipers.
Not really, most historical sources for pan-mediteranean pre-Christian polytheism come from Hellenic or Roman writers who practiced a form of syncretism known as “Interpretatio Graeca” (or “Interpretatio Romana”). That is, they conflated the local deities of those they encountered with their own pantheon.
As Tacitus put it in coining the phrase:“Praesidet sacerdos muliebri ornatu, sed deos interpretatione Romana Castorem Pollucemque memorant.
Or, “‘a priest presides in woman’s dress, but in the interpretation of the Romans, they worship the gods Castor and Pollux”.
It is actually a pain in the ass for historians since many primary sources simply conflate, for example, Cernunnos with Mercury and leave it at that with no real insight into what Cernunnos worship really involved.
Just to be clear, it IS advertising for the Simpsons movie.
Will Von Wizzlepig says
I hope they keep the trend up and stick Simpsons characters all over every religious monument in the world.
We need more advertising, and churches have so much wall space.
First thing I thought:
Cool, a ring toss!
Ken MacLeod sympathizes with the pagans (but not all that much, I’ll bet money). Calling it ‘vandalism’ might be a bit over the top, but the painting of Homer isn’t exactly civil discourse is it? Given that this is an advertisement for The Simpsons Movie, I think the parallel worth drawing is to the image of The Buddy Christ that was dreamed up for Dogma.
Here’s why I’m inclined to sympathize with the pagans (but not all that much): the painting is an eyesore that seems deliberately aimed at sucking the magic out of their woo-woo religious festivalizing for basically no other purpose than to sell theater tickets. That seems like unnecessary provocation, when there are so many other deserving targets of scorn in the U.K. I’d probably complain too.
it is irritating and yes close to vandalism, even given the original man is most likely only a few hundred years old graffiti (incidently one theory is it was put there to piss off some of the monks).
Thats not from a pagan viewpoint, the ones i have come across dont tend to really have much historical knowledge and have often got in the way of real research, eg Seahenge where the local pagans started protesting even though they never knew it existed before and wouldnt have a clue what religion was followed there (leaving aside the fact it needed protecting since due to its nature it started deteoriating fast)
my objection is more from a protecting the heritage. We have enough problems with halfwits defacing monuments and ancient sites without giving them examples to follow
Paganism and Wicca don’t bother me much. I’ve seen plenty of their shops full of crystals, spell books, assorted funny smelling herbs and flowers, and all kinds of other new-agey crap (they always had the best incense though), yet the ones I’ve met typically found all that as silly as I and could better be described as believers in a romanticized (occasionally anthropomorphicized) pantheism. (Spinoza after reading too many fantasy novels, perhaps?) Also, for many it was more of a connection to cultural history or a matter of national pride than any real belief in witchcraft or woodland spirits. Sure, many obviously take it a bit too seriously (e.g.: rain magic), but I see them as little different from overenthusiastic battle re-enactors, Creative Anachronists, or Cosplayers: quirky, eccentric, a little nutty, but far less so (and significantly less dangerous) than large numbers of believers of the “mainstream” religions.
Of course this is merely my opinion and based on the handful of pagans I’ve met in my life. I find the Homer drawing hilarious. It’s almost as funny as the jab at Cromwell that the giant was meant to be.
I should probably add that my internet nom-de-plume is itself a pagan reference. Being of Lithuanian descent and a fan of beer, I find the name of the spirit of beer and fermentation appropriate and amusing.
Rey Fox says
Oh sheesh. Weren’t those pagan religions rife with trickster figures?
I always wanted a nom-de-plume… unfortunately I am scottish so My Nom de plume is exactly the same as my family name — being they both come from my “faither” (pronounced fay-there for non scots)
Labas Ragutis. I think writerdd mentioned speaking Lithuanian.
Is there some reason so many of us Lugans are here on Pharyngula?
Stephen Wells says
@81/82: It’s not vandalism, the new figure is in a different field. Nor is it, to my eye, any more ridiculous than the original figure. Plus it’s funny.
“No giants were harmed in the making of this movie.”
I like it too… although the donut looks like it has sprinkles! I *hate* sprinkles! (does that mean I only ‘tolerate’ the image? hmmm)
talking of donuts – time for dinner….
Scott Hatfield, OM says
I can’t wait to hear Kristine’s take on this.
I *heart* commissarjs
And it is cultural imperialism!! The Americans are obivously trying to import that baseball game thingy into the UK!!!
FOR SHAME AMERICA! FOR SHAME!
Rey Fox says
tony, the sprinkles are my deeply held pastry topping, and you must respect that. But I suspect you won’t listen to me, because you’re a rabid anti-Simpsonite and are destined to spend eternity in Shelbyville.
Actually, it looks like the giant is whacking himself over the head with a flamberge while sodomizing the giant trilobite that’s trying to rip out his throat.
Oh. I’m sorry. What that interpretation disrespectful?
it’s surprisingly easy to offend most Pagans. they’re particularly prevalent in Britain right now seeing as this place was kind of the home of the original pre-Celtic druids, and especially where i live, and you can’t suggest so much as disbelief in spirits before one of them starts either yelling or crying.
i say the same thing every time – i have to respect YOU, but i have no obligation whatsoever to respect your beliefs. GO HOMER!
I should’ve stopped reading this thread once the Pagan-taunting set in, I’m here for the cephalopods and the fundamentalism-mockery, of which there are none in this thread, but I’ll point out a couple things:
1)It’s not vandalism. The original has not been defaced. It has just been given a neighbor that makes fun of it.
2)It’s funny. It’s a spectacular joke, one of the best irreverent adaptations to its presence that could be come up with, and very well done.
this marketing ALMOST beats out he aqua teen hunger force campaign
Peter Ellis says
I’m slightly torn and sympathise with the “vandals” view. Not for any reason of the location, of course. I’d feel the same if it was on any random hillside anywhere in the country. Get your darn advertising out of my face, already.
Ah,,,when you said “holy site”, I thought you meant “WEBsite”. And when you said “religioous”, I thought you meant “Christian denomination”. See? I’m prejudiced…
Baseball isn’t not cultural imperialism. They got it from you (UK) and changed the name. You call it rounders: girls play it.
Oops! An extra “not” got in there. Preview carefully!
Yes, and a giant cock-monster is a sight for sore eyes.
Hmmm, this isn’t very impressive for a god of fertility. This god needs re-chalking every 25 years, and yet Homer Simpson had Maggie, Lisa, and Bart, all after the age of 25. I know which god I’m worshipping. Mmmmm…donuts
Dick heads the lot of you.
Ah, another fan.
I’d be happy to sign an autograph for you Cenua.