Thursday, July 30, 2015


After watching the film Noah recently I knew the Christians would have a problem with the rock monsters, so I was pleased to find them at the top of this list of Christian objections to the film.

The rest of their objections - and this list shows only the top eight - are entirely predictable too.

'There were no stowaways on the ark' is probably my favourite', given the crucial emphasis on absolute accuracy and truth-telling in the Genesis story.

Eve was made of Adam's rib? From his bone? Sure she was. And I'm a goldfish.

It would be more accurate to say Eve was made from Adam's boner, except, no, that doesn't work either. Because even a boner needs a homer, it can't make anything on its owner. The egg (woman) came first, then the chicken-rooster (man), as any scientist can tell you. But still, who - or what - made the egg? We're back to Adam's boner.

I can't go on in this vein because it's all too silly and frankly I CAN'T BELIEVE (these capitals aren't big enough) there are still people out there - in their millions - who continue to believe in this silliness, silliness that has caused enough harm already, hasn't it? YES IT HAS.

But what I am interested in is our attempts to rewrite our foundational cultural stories, especially those that say something about gender, and I think Noah, for all it's failings - including the ridiculous rock monsters - makes some sincere-ish effort in this regard.

In my view the idea that the male child-adult is primary and the female secondary, the basis of all sexism, is the first - and last - mistake of all religions and cultures. It's the first prejudice from which just about all others stem.

Noah attempts to question this. It is not Eve who gives into temptation and causes 'the fall' of man, but 'mankind' or 'us', though it is still 'man' who is made first and in God's image and woman who is 'put beside him' by God, who is male. So it's very much only a partial revision, but it is something.

But then it is - in other parts of the film - men, not 'mankind' inclusive of women, who essentially fuck up the world with their violence - 'You are not a man until you have killed (a man)' says the 'bad' man, descendant of Cain who killed his brother and unleashed a culture of killing that led - as it will, as it has done - to the destruction of almost all good in the world.

The first thing that the 'baddies' do in response to the threat of a world flood is to build weapons to fight Noah for his ark. This fight-first strategy does not end well for the baddies. Noah, who takes a less weapon-centred approach, prevails and, more importantly, does so with the help of women (his wife and adopted daughter) who, in a roundabout way, talk him out of his own belief in the power of killing as the ultimate answer.

Then of course there's the whole girl-child thing. Noah ends with passing the torch of 'mankind's' rebirth after the flood as a better, less destructive and violent species, to his two grand-daughters, when the biblical story is all about the male-line. Adam and Eve, for instance, have three sons, as does Noah, never mind the math.

Although females can't reproduce on their own any more than males can, the foundation story has never been about truth-telling, as already mentioned. It is about the way we want to see ourselves, males and females, in order to understand ourselves and figure out what we can, and should, do to survive in a dignified fashion, making the most of our particular strengths in light of our very real weaknesses.

And in this way, Noah suggests, if not entirely consistently, that we should revise our first mistake of seeing men as primary and god-like (at least some of them), and women as secondary and devil-like (all of them), if we are to have any hope of doing better. I think that's a good start.

Now you'll have to excuse me, I'm off for a swim ~~~~~



  1. Great piece of writing re gender analysis and the play on ‘boner’ is hoot.