Shame Day: Noah Bashers

I haven’t seen Noah yet, but I also haven’t seen anything by Aronofsky that I didn’t like. You probably know him from such movies as The Black Swan, The Wrestler, and The Fountain– all tending to center on people pursuing their dreams and passions even at their own destruction.

Now in spite of his impressive filmography, Noah has nevertheless come under fire from several directions, though perhaps none more vocal than the conservative (heck, even moderate) Christian community.

Now as with any film dealing even remotely with religion, that’s more or less to be expected, however, we’re going to be addressing these complaints less for their inherent claims and more for the much, much bigger issue that they’re telling of.

Now the banner that the critics of the film are flocking to is the claim that “it’s not Biblical.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t have to be.

The Christian community has been a little spoiled from having the various Jesus films based exclusively off of the New Testament. Whatever movie gets made, even the highly controversial Last Temptation of Christ, is still based almost exclusively off of the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Noah, however, is a figure appearing not only in Christianity, but in Jewish and Muslim texts as well- to say nothing of the countless Noah-figures from pretty much every culture in the world.

The simple fact of the matter is that Aronofsky isn’t required to portray Noah exclusively using the handful of verses referencing him (and the time he lived in) in the Old Testament. In fact, in spite of the hue and cry being raised here, Aronofsky is actually probably being more faithful to the story than most folks are giving him credit for.

Yep, we’re talking about the “rock monsters”.

The appearance of these strange creatures is being pointed as clear and irrefutable evidence of Aronofsky’s typical Hollywood irreverence for Biblical accuracy. Now I’ve already come out against biblical inerrancy, but even if I did adopt the most hardcore literalist position, I still wouldn’t have a leg to stand on because the rocks monsters are in there.

Ok, not “rock-monsters”, but to quote Genesis 6:1-4:

“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

Now exactly what on earth “the Nephilim” were (the King James Version simply translates it as “giants”) is never explained. There’s still a lot of debate surrounding the translation and the implications of the verse, but all that ought to go to show that there’s really no way you get to rail on Noah for this.

Simple fact of the matter is that the Bible is jam-packed with this kind of off-the-wall stuff. And I’m not going to blame anyone for leaving the dismembering of concubines (Judges 19:1-30) out of church pamphlets, it just strikes me that western Christians have been so busy building up this particular image of their own religion that they’re starting to confuse it with the the real thing. I’d bet cold hard cash that if I portrayed Jesus whipping the crap out of moneylenders at the temple, a hefty chunk of Christians would accuse me of playing fast and loose with scripture even though there’s a verse saying Jesus did exactly that.

And let’s be clear, after all these years, Christians don’t suddenly get to jump up and start complaining about accuracy.

Jesus has been portrayed using white actors over and over and over. Where was the hue and cry of accuracy then? Nowhere in scripture are angels described as having wings, and yet countless times they’re depicted as having ’em and the Christian community has nothing to say about this. Pretty much everything from the Sistine Chapel to the illustrations in a collection of children’s Bible stories are based off of what will have the best aesthetic or make some kind of contextual sense (just look at any Christmas creche). And again, Aronofsky is not basing his Noah exclusively off of source material in Genesis. You can’t start wailing about the portrayal of something you don’t even having a monopoly on.

Over and over though, the main issue seems to be this: the critics are acting as if somehow they’re owed a Christian movie. Let’s get this straight- neither Aronofsky nor Hollywood nor any filmmaker past, present, or future owes you anything.

Christians are returning yet again to their favored dead-horse of faux-persecution, trying to make a bunch of non-complimentary details in Noah out to be evidence of an ongoing conspiracy to undermine scripture.

The madness of that aside, I need something explained to me. Who on earth do you think you are that you get to throw a tantrum because a movie wasn’t exactly to your tastes?

Let’s have Jagger break it down for you:

But if you try sometimes to start making your own movies that don’t make the viewer want to face-plant onto an electric drill, maybe we wouldn’t be running into this issue. It is not Aronofsky’s job to create fuzzy, self-affirming films for a specific demographic.

Yeah, the film does have it’s problems- let there be no mistake on that- but how ’bout ya pull the log from your own eye, huh?

Shame on you.

3 responses to “Shame Day: Noah Bashers

  1. Perhaps the most laughable complaint I’ve heard about Noah is that it’s “anti-human.” Funny, last I checked, that was pretty much in line with the original story about God wiping out all but a handful of human beings because humans were assholes.

  2. I’ve also heard (though I haven’t had time to read it for myself yet) that several of the more mythical seeming elements come from the apocryphal Book of Enoch. If that’s true, then while still not Protestant canon, not all of those elements would be pure fabrication. But that said, I am glad for those who criticize based on how the character of God is depicted.

  3. Shame on the makers of the film for working so hard to hide the fact there are rock creatures in this movie. Willful deception.

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