Like many Americans, I celebrate Christmas each year despite being non-religious. For me, this mostly involves watching Die Hard on repeat and drinking Whiskeynog until I forget that I am not now, nor can ever be a Bruce Willis (or even an Argyle). But this year, I'm doing things differently. This year, I'm going to put away my prejudices, and learn a little about the religion that brought us this joyous occasion. This year, I'm actually going to study up on Christianity, using the most effective and distinguished tools I know: late night cartoons on TBN.
In case you're not familiar with the show, Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible was a bold little venture that dared to ask one controversial, but vital question: What if we took the most gruesome and awful parts of the bible, paid North Korean sweatshop workers to hastily animate them and then jammed a precocious, androgynous child and its mentally retarded Scooby Doo camel into the whole mess to sing kindergarten rock songs about murder and rape over a Three Stooges sound effects reel?
That's a confusing question to ask, I know. But the good news is that Greatest Heroes has an answer for you; the bad news is that the "answer" is just furious screaming and a slide whistle. The show is balls deep in madness and never wants to pull out. Within the first 10 seconds of the actual animation, we have cougars, holy lasers, cougars running from holy lasers and a John Woo style dove explosion. Within the first minute, we have sex-offending dragons, time-traveling fruit and gunshields.
Now, let's meet our cast of characters: Here's the first "angel from God" who visits Samson's mother, an Israelite oppressed by the Philistines, to answer her prayers for a child. He chooses to manifest himself on Earth in the holiest form our culture will ever produce: A winged Sebastian Bach.
Samson's mother follows all of Bach's inexplicable riders -- don't eat or drink from the fruit of the vine, don't cut the boy's hair, only Crunchberries and whores allowed in the dressing room -- and in return he does what Sebastian Bach does best: He impregnates the holy hell out of her. She then produces Samson, and here's our hero now, looking like the answer to the question "What if Steve Perry was The Incredible Hulk?"
Perry Hulk soon meets a Philistine girl, the first of many bullet points on the thesis Greatest Heroes is writing about the tragic underuse of misogyny in our society. The Philistine woman, like all women in this cartoon, is an evil, conniving slut here to tempt and betray the righteous man. But poor Samson, he was lost the second he laid eyes on her. I mean, what could he do in the face of such beauty?
The pair meets, and almost instantly falls in love. Possibly because she used the Pathway of Mirrors to climb behind Samson's pupils and become him from the inside out.
"You love me, Samson." "But you look like somebody hit Brooke Shields with a shovel!" "You. Love. Me. Samson." "I. love. you...master."
Everything seems to be going along swimmingly, as far as nailing your racial nemesis goes, and then the pre-marriage celebration comes around. Samson, as Philistine tradition dictates, is given 30 escorts for the next seven days. In the spirit of camaraderie, he proposes that they all play a fun little game: He'll come up with a riddle, and if they solve it before the wedding, they'll each get a new robe. Isn't that neat? That's how you design a good game; the mechanics are simple, everybody is equally involved and the stakes are just low enough to keep everything friendly.
But then those dirty Philistines go and ruin everything. They try to coerce Samson's weak-willed, treacherous woman-beast into giving up the answer to this benign little riddle game. This turns out to be quite easy, actually: They make a few patriotic pleas, a couple of threats and when that doesn't work, they just eye-slave that bitch.
Hey, turnabout is fair play.
After a few days trapped in the Phantom Zone behind the Philistine woman's dead, dead eyes, Samson's escorts return just before the ceremony to solve his riddle.
Man, what a shitty thing to do. Cheaters shouldn't ever prosper. Samson would be totally within his rights to not honor this bet, but then, what kind of lesson would that teach to the kids? He's no welcher, cheating or no. So our hero -- our protagonist, the strong-jawed, noble main character that's been the spearhead of every lovable, wacky shenanigan so far -- honors his part of the bargain. He goes out and he gets those robes ... by murdering 30 completely unrelated, innocent people in an alleyway.
Now, I know this is Biblically accurate, Christians, and you don't want to teach the kids half-truths or falsehoods about something as sacred as the bible, but was there no better way to treat this scenario in a children's cartoon? Couldn't you have cut to narration, or tasteful editing, or hey -- maybe you could have stopped just short of recording the agonizing death screams of innocent men echoing through the empty city streets?
But that's not how Greatest Heroes rolls. The only hand-holding this show does is when it's burning off your fingerprints, and it thinks "restraint" is that thing you use to keep your Collection from escaping their cages during feeding time. So we see every second of Samson's constantly escalating revenge on the Philistines for winning his fun party game. You know, maybe he should've been clearer on the terms of this friendly little wager when he proposed it:
Samson: I'll bet you 30 robes you cannot solve my riddle, however! If you do solve the riddle, I'll not only give you the robes -- fresh from the backs of innocent corpses -- but I'll throw in absolute genocide for all your people!
Philistine 1: That doesn't sound like a fun wedding game.
Philistine 2: I've got Apples to Apples in my chariot.
Samson: I don't know ...
Philistine 1: OK, how about this? Let's do Apples to Apples first, then, if you're not having fun, we can do your Casual Massacre thing later? Cool? All right, here we go. First card says: Neighborly!
Philistine 2: You ... you don't say it, you just pick one of these cards in your hand to turn in and ... you're writing "blood-typhoon" on the card now, aren't you? We're playing Casual Massacre after this no matter what, aren't we?