9.14.2005

David Beckham: The New Jesus Christ?
Well, He Does Make Me Want To Get Down on My Knees...

Beckham the 'Jesus of Consumer Culture'

from AFP

LONDON - England fans may pray for him to lead the country to victory in next year's World Cup, but not even his most ardent admirers have ever compared David Beckham to Jesus. Until now, that is.

An academic conference was to hear Wednesday that while Beckham has yet to perform any miracles - at least off the football pitch - he is perhaps the closest thing modern British society has to a Messiah figure.

"Beckham the brand is all about salvation, redemption, even resurrection," said Carlton Brick, on the politics and sociology faculty of the University of Paisley in Scotland.

"It is not me that is saying Beckham is a pseudo Christ-like figure, but it is how he is often portrayed, and it is how he portrays himself," he told The Guardian newspaper.

Brick was to argue later Wednesday at a three-day conference on celebrity at Paisley University that Beckham's footballing story has been presented by the media, and even his advisors, as an almost Christ-like parable, the paper said.

This process started at the 1998 World Cup, when a petulant kick against an Argentinian opponent saw Beckham sent off, something many newspapers blamed for England's defeat in the match.

But in subsequent years the midfielder became increasingly famous and adored, eventually being made England captain.

"The redemption came in 1998 after he was sent off in the French World Cup. He was even pictured in a magazine in a white shirt looking Christ-like under the word 'redemption'," Brick said.

"Then he was expected to be the saviour of English football. The Sun even ran a picture of his broken foot and asked us to place our hands on it to heal him."

Other more obvious religious allusions are Beckham's crucifix tattoo, his Christ-like poses in magazines, and his decision to call his son Cruz, Spanish for cross, Brick noted.

The footballer and his wife, ex-pop star Victoria, were even portrayed last Christmas as Jesus and Mary in a controversial nativity display at Madame Tussauds, the London waxwork musuem.

But that was where the similarities ended.

"Beckham may be a god of the global consumer culture - transcending barriers of sexuality and race - but when it comes down to it he's just a footballer," he said. "This guy can't bring peace and harmony to the world and there's something fundamentally wrong in using pseudo-Christian iconography which implies that he can."

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