Moral Orel 1×01: The Lord’s Greatest Gift
When I think of claymation, I inevitably think of the Rankin-Bass claymation holiday specials that I used to watch as a kid. There’s just something about the animation style that drags me back to both childhood and the Island of Misfit Toys. It conjures up a sense of innocence and joy. So it’s really just waiting for someone to twist and pervert the medium. To take that innocence and contrast it with the hypocrisy of adulthood and Godless-Christian Religion. Welcome to the sick, sick world of Moral Orel.
A warning from the start. Moral Orel is not a kids show. It’s rated MA 15+ for a reason. While watching this episode, my wife walked in on a scene featuring a claymation zombie eating brains. She wouldn’t come back into the room until the episode was finished. You have been warned.
The star of Moral Orel is a young teenage boy called Orel. Orel lives in a town called Moralton, a town that has taken right-wing Protestant American Christianity to the extreme. The local radio station plays songs by the Crucifolks with lyrics like “Reason is the enemy of faith”. The local cinema is picketed by protesters because The Wizard of Oz claims there is no place like home, which is clearly blasphemous because there is “No Place Like Heaven!” And every Sunday, everyone crams into the local Church to hear Reverend Putty’s sermon, even if he preached the same sermon 8 years ago and they can mouth along to it.
Moral is an earnest young man, always wanting to honour God and live the life of a believer. However, there’s always some twist of misunderstanding that ends up with him getting it oh so comically wrong. And this is the lynch pin of the show. This is what makes it of keen interest to the Christian viewer. There is a huge difference between the New Testament focus on love and the Old Testament focus on rules. The town of Moralton are so focused on the rules that they forget love. Orel is so focused on trying to obey all the rules the grown ups around him are imposing that his love for God leads him into all kinds of trouble.
In The Lord’s Greatest Gift, Orel hears a sermon on how the greatest gift God has given us is life. If we don’t use that gift we are sinning. As Orel is walking home through the cemetery, he struck by how many sinners there are laying in their graves. He manages to get his hands on a copy of the Necronomicon, rescuing it from Miss Censordoll’s book burning pile. Orel and his friend Doughy dig up Doughy’s dead grandfather and prepare him for resurrection. First removing his soiled clothes (because wearing dirty clothes is a sin), Orel recites the words of the dark tome (“It doesn’t sound very Protestant, Orel” – “At least it’s not Catholic.”). The grandfather rises, now a flesh eating, brain seeking zombie.
What follows is a zombie apocolypse in the streets of Moralton. Orel and Doughy follow in the wake, removing the dirty, blood stained clothes from the soon to arise zombies. But oh oh – here’s Dad sending Orel to the study for a spanking and a lecture. See the reason that people were running in terror was not that the zombies were eating them. It was because they were running in fear from the naked. Orel always forgets those lost commandments such as Commandment 11 “Thou shalt be ashamed of thy natural anatomy”. Once they clothe the zombies, every one is happy again, with happy smiling townsfolk being eaten alive by the walking dead.
There is so much to point out in this episode – the book burning, the Pharisaical creation of rules, the supposed contrast between reason and faith. But most of all it’s a boys search to be loved. He wants to love God. He wants the love of his father. But the rules and structure of society want to crush that. The people of Moralton have taken everything good God has given and perverted it into a rigid, unloving religion. There is much to learn from Moral Orel. Their aim to is find humour and absurdity in the hypocrisy of Christianity. My aim is to highlight the hypocrisy of man made religion and expose it for what it is – a barrier between us and God that Christ ripped down on the cross but we’ve stupidly put back up.