Celebrity Nativity Scene: What's Your Take?

As the holidays approach, everyone has their own favorite aspects that they enjoy celebrating. Carols, decorating the tree, cooking and enjoying an elaborate feast, and more are all among the most common ways that we celebrate that people regularly proclaim as their favorite. But, the nativity scene is another major part of the holiday and every year businesses, churches, and homes set up a nativity to celebrate the season. However, in 2004, a London nativity scene caused a significant uproar around the world and in the UK in particular. The nativity scene in question was unveiled at Madame Tussaud's famous wax museum and featured celebrity wax figures in the places of the various people usually displayed in a nativity scene. It was displayed in the 'Divas' section of the museum, in a VIP corner near visages of J-Lo and Beyoncé, and switched out Christmas carols in favor of pop music from artists like Britney Spears. Here's a breakdown of the celebrities appearing in the now-infamous nativity scene:
  • David Beckham - Joseph
  • Victoria Beckham - Mary
  • George W Bush - Wise Man
  • Tony Blair - Wise Man
  • Prince Phillip - Wise Man
  • Samuel L Jackson - Shepherd
  • Graham Norton - Shepherd
  • Huge Grant - Shepherd
  • Kylie Minogue - Angel
  [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="474"] Peter Macdiarmid / Reuters / Via NBC[/caption] Immediately, the display began to get backlash from church officials and the Vatican. The Vatican's official statement was, "This is worse than bad taste, it is cheap. You can't use contemporary personalities as the central figures in the Nativity." The Archbishop of Canterbury's spokesman said, "there is a well-understood tradition that each generation interprets and reinterprets the nativity, but oh dear." Visitors to the museum were split, with some saying that it was disrespectful and even sacrilegious while others proclaimed it original and comical. Some countries do have a tradition of using celebrities to some degree - Naples used soccer star Diego Maradona in a display once. But, religious leaders say that the 'reinterpretation' should be limited to things such as the crib, updating it to a contemporary crib. The official proclamation is that the 'central mystery' of the nativity should always be respected. But, Madame Tussauds said that it did indeed respect this tradition since it used a plastic doll in the manger. As for the other characters featured in the display, those were chosen in a public vote that 300 people submitted a ballot for. The museum issued an apology and said that the display was intended in the spirit of fun and that the backlash wasn't expected. While it occurred in 2004, there's no question that the nativity scene is still something that gets revisited and remembered from time to time. You can still see the photos online easily, and it's worth taking a look at to see just what the uproar was about at the time. Fourteen years later, what are your thoughts on the nativity? It's an interesting talking point to think about, and we should at least give Madame Tussaud's credit for that - creating interest in the nativity scene in a big way.