As I noted earlier, Variety reported the results of a bogus survey as though it represented legitimate concerns from the faith community about the upcoming film, “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe and directed by Darren Aronofsky. It is always disappointing when a small portion of the Christian community perpetuates the worst stereotypes too-often assigned to all believers, coming across as shrill, prejudiced, and thin-skinned, far more interested in finding reasons to be offended than in demonstrating compassion, humility, and grace. We saw that this week in The American Family Association’s calling on its members to protest a “profanity-laced” television commercial with only one bad word: “hell.” And then there is this silliness, yet another bad example of people who devote more energy to telling other people whether they qualify as Christians than paying attention to their own behavior. A good refresher for those who claim to be victims of bigotry is this essay from a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and fire station chaplin. Basically, if you can worship in the place and manner of your choice and your only objection is that you cannot control the behavior of other people, you are not the subject of discrimination.
This hypersensitivity is just one reason it is so difficult for Hollywood to produce films that honestly portray people of faith or stories based on the Bible. The New York Times’ Michael Cieply, a movie producer-turned reporter, wrote a piece called “Can God Make it in Hollywood?”
Once, studios routinely made movies with overtly religious themes for the mainstream audience. Classics like “The Ten Commandments,” “Quo Vadis” and “A Man for All Seasons” — each of which was nominated for a best picture Oscar — were box-office winners with a wide range of viewers. But after years of neglect or occasional hostility, the question now is whether Hollywood can still find common ground with religious audiences.
That is borne out by stories like the one in Variety, based on a survey with a biased question put to people who had not seen the movie. So it is very reassuring to see this excellent piece by Steven D. Greydanus in the Catholic Register, titled Everybody Chill Out about the “Noah” Movie.
There’s a lot of room in the biblical story for interpretation and imagination, and anyone who’s been thinking about this story as long as Aronofsky has is likely to have some interesting insights into it.
It is well worth reading in full. As noted before, unlike some of the people who are complaining about “Noah,” I will wait to report on the movie after I have seen it.