Entertainment Theatre & Arts

Thursday 17 October 2019

'It was never my intention to cause offence - it's light-hearted comedy' - Tipperary animator rejects claim 'Bootleg Jesus' series is 'blasphemous'

Bootleg Jesus
Bootleg Jesus
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

A Tipperary-based animator has rejected a claim that his new animated series, Bootleg Jesus, is 'blasphemous', and says he never intended to cause offence.

Kenny Noble launched his ten-episode series about the 'lesser successful son of God' on his Ntoonz YouTube channel two weeks ago.

It features the voice of Hardy Bucks star Owen Colgon in the title role and tackles everyday topics from modern men's haircuts to social media in a humorous, if adult, way - expletives are frequent.

However, it is not the language which has caused a stir, but the content and title character - the first episode of the series was labelled 'blasphemous' in an article in the Irish Catholic newspaper.

Kenny believes the content of his series is "in no way blasphemous".

"It’s light-hearted comedy outlining general topics, relatable topics," he tells Independent.ie.  "There’s one reference to the Bible, a reference to walking on water, in the first episode.  And the character is an interpretation - he's not the real deal.

"People seem to be getting a bit upset or offended and that was never our intention with this show.  Our only intention with this show at the end of the day was to make people laugh.  In this day and age people could do with a laugh.  Some people are going to get it and some aren’t going to get it but outrage over the character is a bit unfair."

In the wider context of pop culture today, Kenny feels his series is less controversial than other animated shows, and even Father Ted.

"If you really want to pick the bones out of it, what have Family Guy and South Park done?  They’ve portrayed the actual Jesus in a very, very poor sense.  I can’t understand why people are outraged by this when there doesn’t seem to be any problem with that," he says.

"How many Catholics enjoyed Father Ted over the years and that really put the show in a bad light.  A lot of people giving out about this show have probably enjoyed Father Ted over the years. There’s a level of hypocrisy there."

Kenny, his producer Rosie Hanley and writer and sound engineer Matt O'Sioda have been working on the series since last summer and Kenny applied to Tipperary County Council Arts department for a small grant of €400 to help fund the project, which he was awarded. 

The Irish Catholic article took issue with the fact that the council had awarded the grant for a series which the newspaper deemed 'potentially offensive'.  Tipperary County Council issued the following statement to Independent.ie regarding its funding of the project:

"Tipperary County Council awarded in the region of €65,000 in grants to local and visiting artists last year as part of our remit to provide a diverse range of cultural services to all audiences living and visiting the county and to support artists as part of our commitment to economic development and job creation.

"The animator was awarded €400 following his application for funding that comprised his CV and a half-page outline proposal.  Some of the completed work when released contained material of a sexual nature and a warning that this was the case appeared at the start of the animation."

Prior to the Irish Catholic article, Kenny admits that due to the adult nature of the series he had trouble promoting it in local and national media.

"The article has helped it inadvertently," he said.  "I'd like to thank the Irish Catholic because they have resurrected the show out of nowhere. It has garnered us a lot of publicity, especially locally.  But it wasn't meant to go that way." 

The first two episodes of Bootleg Jesus are available on the NToonz YouTube channel with a new episode added at 8pm every Monday night. "Episode two is about our PC world, which is an appropriate one, outlining how on social media people are offended by the least little thing these days," says Kenny.

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