The latest episode of the History Channel’s new series The Bible drew an uncomfortable buzz when some viewers noticed the character of Satan seemed to resemble President Barack Obama.
Twitter erupted with observations Sunday evening, including one from conservative personality Glenn Beck, who previously instituted a personal ban on uttering the president’s name, but couldn’t keep himself from noting the similarity between the character and “that guy.”
— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) March 17, 2013
Many remarked that the actor, Mehdi Ouazzani, looked remarkably similar to Obama in the new series, which has been a huge success for the History Channel, watched by millions.
The incident reminds some of HBO’s airing of an episode of Game of Thrones including a fake George W. Bush head impaled in the background of a scene. Rev. Sharpton joined others in criticism of that move at the time, calling it distasteful, and HBO eventually released a statement apologizing and calling it ”unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste.”
In a March 1 press conference, Obama joked about his opposition’s habit of demonizing him. “Is there something I could do to make some of these guys—the House Republican caucus—not paint horns on my head?”
The History Channel, along with series Executive Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, responded to the comparisons on Monday.
“HISTORY channel has the highest respect for President Obama. 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.”
“This is utter nonsense,” said series creator Mark Burnett. “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.”
“Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian,” said producer Roma Downey. “False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.”