There’s something about Noah

bob-kelsoI’m an unashamed fan of the TV show Scrubs. In the first episode, where J.D. (the series protagonist) who is feeling completely out of his depth, feels like he’s found someone who actually cares about his emotional needs; Doctor Bob Kelso (the hospital’s administrator).

Towards the end of the episode, when J.D. is at his lowest, and seeks him out, Dr. Kelso turns to him and says “Do you realize you’re nothing but a large pair of scrubs to me?”

Over the last couple of days, I’ve read far too many reviews of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”, ranging from “must see” to “straight from the pit of hell”. Plenty of evangelical folks who are decrying Aronofsky as “attacking Biblical truth” (or some variation of that), but here’s the thing: there’s nothing I’ve read that indicates he set out to make a “biblical” film. He has stated in interviews that the story of Noah was a passion project for him, and he’s been working on it for several years; it also appears that he’s used sources that, with his Jewish upbringing, are familiar to him, but not to your typical evangelical audience member.

What confuses me a little, is who says “we” (as Christians) have the sole rights to the story of Noah and how it should be told? Because something is in the Bible, does that mean we somehow should get right of veto over anyone else telling the story? Why do “we” have some right to declare that any telling of the story that uses sources unfamiliar to “us” is unacceptable? That’s the thinking of empire, of those who are used to having power and control.

For a moment, let’s consider that another young filmmaker suddenly has the clout to make this movie, and make it “Biblically accurate” (whatever that actually means).

Here’s the log line: “God saves one man and his immediate family, and some animals from the world’s first and worst catastrophe!”

Sounds awesome? What a brilliant BIBLICALLY ACCURATE story!

Hold on, big fella… what caused this catastrophe?

Well… God did. He decided to destroy everything because it was all corrupted.

All? Really? The kittens? Baby goats?
What about the parents of his Noah’s daughters-in-law? How about Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah? (If you do the math, he died in the flood too – that’s biblically accurate).

Consider, if you will, a newborn baby, born that very morning as the rains started? Not long after taking its first breath, it died a horrible death, as its lungs filled with water.

You can try and gloss over the ugly truth somehow, but this was an apparently global genocide of humans and animals; everyone and everything else dies, horribly. That’s your biblically accurate story, right there. Not as cute when you take away the Sunday School flannel graphs and deal with the text.

But let’s say Hollywood greenlights our new “Biblically accurate” script. What then? If they’re going to spend a few hundred million dollars on a movie, they want to make that money back, and preferably a profit. The odds are that script isn’t going to stay “accurate” for long. See, Hollywood isn’t interested in the same things that the American evangelical church cares about. They just want to make money.

Actually, now that I think about it… then I think “better not”.

You know which movies don’t normally make money? Bad ones. (“Hello! Hudson Hawk? This is Ishtar calling…”)

What if  you had a bad film on your hands, that with the right marketing, might appeal to a particular target demographic?

Hollywood isn’t there to make Christians feel warm and fuzzy. They don’t care whether a movie is “Biblically” accurate. Actually, I suspect they’d prefer a script take few liberties, because that will get some of them up in arms, talking, blogging or yelling about the movie, which gets more attention for the movie (and likely increases the bums on seats for people who want to be able to rant about it).

When Christians are going to Hollywood to care about their feels, much like Doctor Bob Kelso the only thing Hollywood has to say to the “Christian” audience is “Do you realise you’re nothing but a large demographic to us?

  • Aaron

    Methuselah’s name means “When he dies, it will come.” He died in the year of the flood, but before the flood actually came.