This morning’s hoo-hah is that Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, the guy hired to play the Devil in Mark Burnett‘s The Bible miniseries on the History Channel, strongly resembles President Obama. The association of evil is intensified by Quazani wearing an Emperor Palpatine hoodie cloak. The resemblance hasn’t been exaggerated. Quazani is a dead ringer for an older Obama (i.e., 10 or 15 years from now).
(l.) Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni as the Fallen Angel in Mark Burnett’s The Bible miniseries; (r.) President Obama
Unless The Bible casting director who hired Quazani (either Noureddine Aberdine, Amine Louadni or Carl Proctor) is a drooling idiot, he/she was fully aware of the resemblance.
Ditto Burnett, the reality-show promoter and multi-millionaire (Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice, The Job) who produced The Bible along with his actress-wife Rona Downey. They knew exactly what the shot was. They’re rich and almost certainly not stupid. And I seriously doubt that they were entirely disinterested in stirring up reactions among those who would most likely watch The Bible, and I’m not referring to college-educated blue-state urbans. They certainly knew they’d get a lot of press…c’mon.
I have reason to suspect that anyone who even vaguely equates the power of God and teachings of Jesus to powerful engines in hot cars, as Burnett did not long ago, is probably some kind of moderate dimwit.
I also suspect that anyone who has produced a religious-themed film or mini-series who tells a reporter that “the hand of God was on this,” as Burnett recently did, is basically a hustler trying to attract the religious-minded to watch his show.
That goes double if the same Malibu-residing producer has co-authored a Bible-for-simpletons book that will help promote his religious-themed mini-series, which critics have incidentally called a flashy and synthetic exploitation of Bible tales.
Any hustler can get rich off the God-exploiting business, but some take it more seriously than most. If God touches your movie or miniseries, perhaps He/She/It is also touching the heart and soul of its producer[s]. It doesn’t necessarily follow that people who talk about the hand of God affecting this or that human enterprise are idiots, but people who talk this way do tend to be conservative traditionalists, and this tends to overlap with Republican theology.
We all know the score. You can be a liberal and still be a devout Christian, but generally speaking the God who lives in the narrative of the Holy Bible was co-opted by the religious right decades ago, and anyone who says things like “the hand of God” helped us make this movie knows what he/she is saying and who they’re getting through to. You know it. I know it. Cut the crap.
The Bible series airs each Sunday at 8 p.m. on History Channel. The series’ finale is Easter Sunday.
Update: “This is utter nonsense,” Burnett and Downey said in a statement Monday. “The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics — including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President.”
A History Channel spokesperson also said the resemblance was not intentional. “History channel has the highest respect for President Obama,” some flack wrote. “The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. History’s The Bible is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”