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The Netflix Christmas comedy special The First Temptation of Christ, from the popular Brazilian comedy troupe Porta dos Fundos, has outraged a number of conservative groups in the country with its depictions of a gay Jesus and a pot-smoking Mary.
Made in Brazil but available in other countries, including the U.S., the show is described by Netflix as “a Christmas special so wrong, it must be from comedians Porta dos Fundos.” Since its founding in 2011, the troupe has been a phenomenon in Brazil, and in 2013, its online outlet became the largest comedy channel on Brazilian YouTube, where it currently has over 16 million subscribers. It has been doing Christmas specials since 2013, and in November won and International Emmy for the comedy special The Last Hangover.
In the new 46-minute special, Jesus (Gregório Duvivier) returns home after 40 days in the desert on the day of his 30th birthday party with a gay partner who turns out to be the Devil (Fábio Porchat). The First Temptation of Christ pokes fun at immaculate conception and presents God as Mary’s seducer, behind Joseph’s back.
A conservative Christian group, the Rio de Janeiro-based Cristo Rei League, issued a statement on Facebook condemning the show. The statement was posted by the league’s president, Pedro Luiz de Affonseca, who wrote that “the Church is superior to democracy and to any and all political regimes and should not submit to them.” The League has also announced that it is suing Netflix and Porta dos Fundos. In a highly unusual move, it is asking for a specific fine of 2 million reais (roughly $500,000) to be paid to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security under Sergio Moro, who oversaw the controversial corruption investigations into former Brazilian President Lula da Silva.
Statements from other religious groups, such as the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, followed suit. Meanwhile, a petition on change.org to cancel the show, which is circulating on Facebook and Twitter, has so far gathered 1.6 million signatures.
Porta dos Fundos issued the following statement in response to the controversy: “Porta dos Fundos values artistic freedom and humor through satire on the most diverse cultural themes of our society and believes that freedom of expression is an essential construction for a democratic country.”
Representatives for Netflix in Brazil declined to comment.
Brazil’s conservative politicians, such as Márcio Marinho of the Chamber of the Deputies, have also weighed in on the controversy. Marinho posted a photo on his Facebook page with an image from the show’s ads with messages over it in red that said, “#Netflixnão” (Netflix no) and “Religious intolerance is not freedom of expression.”
This isn’t the the first time that Netflix has faced a boycott over LGBTQ-themed content in Brazil. In 2018, the streamer canceled the animated series Super Drags after one season when the Brazilian Pediatric Society issued a note of condemnation. Conservative viewers protested the show, a superhero spoof in which gay protagonists turned into drag queens by night.
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