For author and religious studies scholar Reza Aslan, the road to media celebrity has come with the requisite moment of ridicule, as he found out while filming the introductory episode for his new CNN not-news series, Believers. According to a report in the Guardian,
Reza Aslan, the scholar and TV presenter, has been pressured to eat human brains while filming with a fringe, cannibalistic Hindu sect for a new series on the world’s religions.
But that might be the least of the problems the show has caused the American author.
Some Indians and American Hindu groups say the opening episode of his CNN series, Believers, which focuses on the obscure Aghori sect, was “Hinduphobic” and sensationalized aspects of the world’s third largest-religion.
— M.E. MEDIA POST, LLC (@middleastmedia1) March 11, 2017
While Reza Aslan has achieved justifiable notoriety as author of worthwhile books on religion, and through his work in bringing a better understanding of Islam to an American audience, and exposing the anti-Islam undercurrent of the New Athiest crowd, his climb up the ladder from notorious to famous has certainly impugned his reputation, via his CNN foopah of religious proportions. In a time when rational voices for religious tolerance are on short supply, Aslan traded his rationality for ridicule.
Additionally, the sensational aspect of Aslan’s Believers presentation has left him wide open and exposed to anti-Islamic critics who are pouncing on his unfortunate window into Hinduism as hypocritical.
— Alt-Right Europe?? (@pr0udwhite) March 11, 2017
Only Aslan can say if his motivations are driven by fame and fortune or something more virtuous. But when you eat from the ratings-starved CNN apple, the fall from grace is guaranteed, as a biblical scholar like Aslan should understand. Still, Aslan seems to be feeding on the attention frenzy.
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) March 11, 2017
In the end, CNN cares little about Aslan’s personal virtues, only how they can exploit his credibility to repeat, and hopefully build on negative publicity generated from his mischaracterization of Hinduism. When the price of celebrity becomes to high for Aslan, or for his CNN puppet masters, we’ll have the Aslan-finds-humility reality show to look forward to. Can’t wait, right?
Celebrities are the problem. #TermLimits4Celebs is the solution.