Monday, April 9, 2012

On Ode to Our New Lord and Savior, Chris-Chan

Why an overweight, virulently homophobic, autistic Internet celebrity is the closest thing modern humanity has to a contemporary Jesus Christ


Even if you’re a godless heathen such as myself, you no doubt have John 3:16 scorched into your memory bank. “For god so loved the world,” the bible passage declares, “that he sent unto it his only begotten son, and whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

It really doesn’t matter what you believe, because the attributes of Christ - whether or not he was a real person - have been extrapolated from the New Testament and used as a transcultural “measuring stick” for human integrity for the last 1,400 or so years. The stoic, unceasing, selfless characteristics of Christ have come to embody what most of us consider to be “heroism,” quite literally, personified, and as such, our social gauges for human decency are likewise connected to the virtues and values associated with the characteristics of Jesus.

Over the years, a number of cultural heroes - from Abraham Lincoln to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. - have all been described as “Christ-like” in their personalities. Come to think of it, pretty much every revered cultural figure of the last 300 years has had attributes - selflessness, emotionless commitment, steadfastness, the willingness to self-sacrifice, etc. - that can be seen as associated traits with the biblical Christ. This raises a most pressing moral question regarding the current; is there anyone on the planet that we can all look up to as a modern, Christ-like hero?

Admittedly, it’s a difficult task, dreaming up a lone individual that exhibits all of these highly desirable traits. That said, I believe I have uncovered ONE modern, internationally renowned figure that I think exemplifies the so-called “Christ tendencies” better than anyone else on the planet - and perhaps, since the death of the original “Christ” himself.

Just how Christ-like is this new Christ of sorts I speak of? As it turns out, he’s so similar in disposition to the biblical Christ that the first six letters of his given name just so happen to spell out “Christ.” Coincidence? I think not.

Christian W. Chandler, known the world over as Chris-Chan, has an origin story eerily similar to that of the Christ we read about in the New Testament. Modern theologists tell us that the Christ was supposedly born of a virgin, in an obscure town in what is today Israel. Similarly, Chris-Chan was born in a comparably obscure town in Virginia, and his father figure remains suspiciously out of the picture to this very day.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
(Matthew 5:1-5:12)

Empirically, there may be a few superficial discrepancies between Chris-Chan and Jesus Christ, but these are all easily dismissible, inconsequential observations. While the biblical texts tell us that Christ had “hair like wool and olive skin,” Chris-Chan is, according to mythology, rather rotund and extremely Caucasian. Additionally, whereas our information about the life of Christ is culled almost entirely from the Gospels and some highly dubious “second-hand” accounts, we have almost a surplus of knowledge about the life of Chris-Chan, with entire social networking sites set in place to track virtually every waking moment of his life. Beyond these notions, however, the two figures are virtually identical - so much so, that I would be more than willing to consider Chris-Chan something of a modern-day Christ in every comfortable sense of the word.

Granted, the methods of their sermons may be drastically different, but their messages, fundamentally, are the same. Whereas Christ extolled the virtues of the Old Testament in his preaching - which gave way to an all new philosophical branch in a display of syncretism - Chris-Chan manages to extol a number of pre-existing gospels via a pop cultural syncretism, a “newer” testament, if you will, in the form of his self-published “Sonichu” writings. The prose and structuring may be different, but alike the New Testament, the Sonichu documents are all highly symbolic and allegorical, expressing certain truths about the nature of humanity. When it’s all said and done, I genuinely believe that the writing of Chris-Chan will easily be of a global value on par with “Beowulf” and “The Odyssey,” if not almost certainly more so.

What initially made me make the comparison between the two figures, of course, was the self-sacrifice of Chris-Chan for the greater good of humanity. The same way Jesus voluntarily gave his life up for the benefit of all people, Chris-Chan has made a comparable sacrifice in regards to his life. The only difference is, while Christ’s “sacrifice” was but a momentary beating, Chris-Chan has endured a multimedia thrashing the likes of which no human being has ever - or likely, ever shall - experience.

Literally every waking second of Chris-Chan’s life, he is scrutinized, criticized and ridiculed by a sea of nameless, faceless spectators, all of whom slake upon his misery as a form of 21st century-amusement. Not only is his life perpetually deconstructed and degraded, the lives of literally everyone he comes in contact with - no matter how brief the duration - fall under comparable scrutiny and inspection. Chris-Chan, like the Christ before him, gave up his existence for the betterment of our own - he voluntarily placed himself upon the embers of Internet Schadenfreude, so that none of us will ever have to.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men" (Matthew 5:13)

Oddly enough, the Christ-like Chris-Chan also falls under the very definition of the Nietzschean “uberman," that is, the self-principled, self-moralized, self-personification of  the artistic humanoid. Chris-Chan is beholden to his own sense of cultural morality, his own sense of self-purpose, and he has - more so than any figure in history - transformed virtually every second of his being into artistic expression. In both Judeo-Christian and continental-existentialist terms, Chris-Chan can only be described as a post-modern redeemer, the figurative and literal personification of all that it is that we consider lofty, inspiring and valuable about the individual identity.

Perhaps a time will come in human history in which all people of earth are subject to the same sense of perpetual linkage, constant surveillance and academic criticism (or “harassment,” as some old-schoolers call it.) Perhaps our fate will to, someday, be as Chris-Chan-like as many of us aspire to be Christ-like in the present; to become corporeal beings transformed into digital data bits, these cultural “memes” devoid of any lingering genetic code.

Undoubtedly, a day will come when all of us will become “adherents” of the philosophy created by Chris-Chan’s followers, the syncretic religion of ironic detachment, verbose cruelty and a complete reliance upon machine-assisted interaction. The culture that mocks and ridicules Chris-Chan at the current, perhaps unknowingly or perhaps already aware of the fact, are quickly on the fast track to becoming “little Chris-Chans” themselves, figures that live lives that are only imbued with social AND personal worth via an Internet connection. Chris-Chan may very well be the first person in history to have his real-life status as a human being (and with it, all of the compassions and dignities that we, ideologically, attribute to alike human beings) replaced by an immemorial virtual life - one that is to be forever intruded upon, and continually degraded by human beings slowly degrading into electronic device-dependent chimeras themselves. Electronic-humans - eHumans, I suppose - are our natural evolution as beings, and Chris-Chan is one of - if not the very first - human beings courageous enough to take that plunge into the uncertain waters of what our humanity is to soon become.

"A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." (Matthew 13:57)

“For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son unto it,” is no doubt on the fast track to being an obsolete platitude. In its place, I envision the phrase below becoming the spiritual mantra of the post-Wi-fi-planet:

For Chris-Chan so loved the World Wide Web, that he gave his very human being unto it.

1 comment:

  1. I despise how people bully Chris Chan online, in large part because I identify with him. I am an overweight, immature man-child who collects action figures as well, and am also lovelorn, like Mr. Chan. I don't have a monthly tugboat to get me through, but that's another matter. While I hate how he's bullied, I admit to unironically laughing at his videos. They are among the most entertaining things I've seen since "The Simpsons" were funny. The Writers' Guild wants to go on strike? I say: fuck 'em! They don't deserve a piece of the Hollywood pie, in my opinion, because they've not created anything one-one-hundredth as hilarious as Chan's "Mary Poppins" sing-alongs, "I've Got a Fish", or any other of his "random-access humor" videos. Harry Partridge once said Chris should put ads on his videos in order to monetize them. He should! He'd rake in millions and get off the tugboat for good. Why is it that some hack makes beaucoup money writing for the godawful "Big Bang Theory" while Chris languishes in poverty in Piedmont Virginia? The world ain't fair, I tell ya!

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