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Things that are not postmodernist

Not everything is postmodernist. Not even everything you dislike is postmodernist. Some things are not postmodernist.

Artistic license is not postmodernist. It has been around for a long time, longer than postmodernism.

Why am I telling you this? Because of some literal-minded bozos who have been complaining that a Hollywood movie about Noah and his big boat CHANGED SOME OF THE THINGS IN THE STORY.

At the request of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), Paramount added a disclaimer which reads, in part, that “[t]he film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”

The movie isn’t the story in Genesis told in pictures. That fact is not postmodernist.

Brian Godawa, a screenwriter whose Christian films have repeatedly failed to be profitable at the box office, wrote that Noah‘s script “is deeply anti-Biblical in its moral vision.”

“Noah is a kind of rural shaman and vegan hippie-like gatherer of herbs. Noah explains that his family tries to study and heal the world whenever possible, like a kind of environmentalist scientist,” Godawa writes.

The environmental message, however, is not Godawa’s central complaint — he is mostly considered concerned with the “postmodernist fancy” that Aronofsky brings to the script. He initially acknowledges that anything not explicitly written in Genesis 6 is fair-game for creative license. “Saying ‘That didn’t happen on the ark,’” he writes, “is sheer ignorance because nobody knows what happened on the ark, because it wasn’t written down!”

However, “postmodernists fancy playing God and changing the meaning of texts to suit their agenda because they believe language creates reality. Therefore, it’s okay to ‘make the Bible say what we want it to say.’ This is manipulative narcissistic nonsense[.]”

No, Brian Godawa, that is not postmodernism. It’s just retelling the story. You know who else did that? Shakespeare. He used other people’s stories, and he changed them any old way he felt like. Shakespeare was not a postmodernist. Changing stories is not a new thing and it’s not blasphemy and it’s not postmodernist.

I’m sure you won’t make that mistake again.

Comments

  1. flippyshark says

    You know who else took old stories and changed them? The various authors of the Bible. Heck, in Genesis, there are no less than three versions of the same daft tale of a patriarch bringing his wife before a ruler, fibbing that his wife is actually his sister, and then the ruler wanting to marry the wife. (Abram and Sarai meet Pharaoh in Gen. 12:10-20, Abraham and Sarah meet Abimilech in Gen.20:1-16, Isaac and Rebekah meet Abimilech in Gen.26:1-33

  2. says

    I’m pretty sure that fairy tale is in the public domain now.

    At least until Disney makes a version and claims copyright until 2315

  3. Shatterface says

    “Saying ‘That didn’t happen on the ark,’” he writes, “is sheer ignorance because nobody knows what happened on the ark, because it wasn’t written down!”

    I think it’s safe to say ‘that didn’t happen on the Ark’ because there was no fucking Ark.

    However, “postmodernists fancy playing God and changing the meaning of texts to suit their agenda because they believe language creates reality.

    ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

  4. CJO says

    Sheesh. There are two versions of the story cut up and crammed right into Genesis 6-9, and those are retellings of an earlier Mesopotamian myth.

    It’s postmodernists all the way down!

  5. says

    “Noah is a kind of rural shaman and vegan hippie-like gatherer of herbs. Noah explains that his family tries to study and heal the world whenever possible, like a kind of environmentalist scientist,” Godawa writes.

    Godawa is complaining because the movie makes Noah look like a decent guy? There’s really no need to waste any more time arguing with this level of stupidity.

  6. timberwoof says

    Brian Godawa should be grateful that Hollywood finally made a movie to celebrate that time God tried to kill us all.

  7. Maureen Brian says

    Can we sit Brian Godawa down in a Mastermind black chair and ask him things like how we can be sure what gopher wood is, where we might find it, is there enough and is it a protected species?

    I presume he wants the ark built in cubits, an imprecise measurement of the distance between one person’s elbow bone and longest finger tip. It varies. To prevent things falling apart you need to keep the top carpenter, whose measurement it was, alive until the project is finished.

    Is the ark-building cubit man still alive and, if he is, shouldn’t we be worshipping him instead?

    And so on and so forth!

  8. Gordon Willis says

    “Noah is a kind of rural shaman and vegan hippie-like gatherer of herbs. Noah explains that his family tries to study and heal the world whenever possible, like a kind of environmentalist scientist,” Godawa writes.

    I quite agree. It is shocking that anyone can be so sinful and wicked. We Christians would never try to heal anything. No one should usurp God’s prerogative. All good Christians should get their guns now. I see contumely and rucktions and lawsuits and rivers of holy writs.

  9. A. Noyd says

    Maureen Brian (#8)

    To prevent things falling apart you need to keep the top carpenter, whose measurement it was, alive until the project is finished.

    This sort of technological difficulty is probably why they eventually upgraded to the model of carpenter that comes back from the dead. (Bonus: Stick bubble vials in the nail holes and he can double as a level.)

  10. K. says

    It seems the basic problem behind fundamentalism is that these people have difficulties in drawing the lines between facts and fiction. They seem to have a mental issue that inhibits them to treat fiction and metaphor as, well, not “literal”.
    Which not only means difficulties with accepting poetic license but also being unable to treat biblical stories as metaphorical accounts of situations that may have happened or not…

  11. says

    I think he was trying some postmodern when he used the word postmodern to mean premodern.
    Anyway, I thought the whole idea of bible studies was to get whatever the reader wanted in spite of whatever the text actually says.

  12. Peter Hilton says

    The producers should have researched Utnapishtim and Deucalion, both of whom “saved humanity” from a deluge; that’s where the OT writers got their (two, conflicting) versions of the event which never happened.

  13. Decker says

    Attempts at censorship by religious types is always a worrisome problem.

    In Egypt, fundamentalists are not just denouncing the film, they’re threatening to blow up any movie theatre that dares show it.

    There is stupidity, and then there’s flat-out insanity.

  14. Gordon Willis says

    What K said. They’re completely barmy, and they want to murder all the wrong people and declare god’s will to the rest of the world. Then they’ll start killing each other for having the wrong beliefs.

  15. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Postmodernism is a word that’s been misused so badly so many times that it almost doesn’t even have a meaning anymore. It should be retired. May I suggest scribbeldywahism as an alternative? ;)

  16. Shatterface says

    The word ‘postmodernism’ is a free-floating signifier; a signifier without a referent.

  17. Gordon Willis says

    I think of modernism as a special way of drawing trains and aeroplanes without any curly bits. You know, simple lines nicely free of sentiment and humanity tosh: you see the essential simplicity and beauty of the necessarily and irrevocably brutal naked truth and that’s how it is so get modern. Heil Hitler. And postmodernism seems to me to be nothing but curly bits: we’re so curly you can’t understand us, little man, can you? but we really know something or other and you’ll just never be able to rise to our level of supreme and transcendent but lucrative time-wasting idiocy intellectual supremacy. And you native women women of different traditions can go to blazes if you can’t sort it out in your own culture.

  18. Gordon Willis says

    At the request of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), Paramount added…”

    Why?

  19. drken says

    It looks to me like Brian Godawa is using the term “Postmodernist” as a fancy word for “Liberal Hollywood Agenda”. Which is odd, because that would be a far more accurate term to use. Of course, had Aronofsky made a movie more in line with a Conservative Hollywood Agenda, he’d be A-OK with it. He’d probably object to anybody who wanted to put a disclaimer on the “word of God”. The studio’s just being cowardly as always.

    Godawa probably also objects to Aronofsky making that statement using a story conservative Christians believe has an anti-environmental message (that God said he’d never destroy the world again and somehow that means we can’t either). I can’t say I blame him, pro-environmental Christians don’t get a lot of attention and he’d like to keep it that way.

    I wonder if Godawa had similar issues with Aronofsky’s butchering of Talmudic numerology. It pissed my Orthodox Jewish boss off to no end.

  20. Gordon Willis says

    This odd contrast between “Conservative” and “Liberal” is a puzzle to me. I think of the contrast as between “Conservative” and “Humane”. Liberalism as a political view has excellent credentials here in the old world. In the new world it seems to be something else entirely. This is surprising in view of the American constitution. But I notice that Americans don’t really like their constitution and are trying to pretend that it’s different from what it actually is.

    Strange, when you consider that so much of the world admires America for the justice and sheer reasonableness of its constitution, and that Americans themselves want to change it for no better reason than greed and domination. The latter is what the constitution was designed to prevent, of course, but a constitution is only as strong as the nation that it protects. Perhaps America is a weak nation, after all, and sooner or later we are all going to have to deal rather violently with the result.

    Part of the problem is that Americans pride themselves on their constitution, without knowing exactly what it is. They’re good, because of their constitution, and therefore whatever they do, and whatever they wish to do, must be good. And when they find that their constitution does not in fact give them licence for all the things they wish to do, they lie about the constitution. It’s exactly like religion. Exactly.

  21. rnilsson says

    @23 Gordon Willis: Your last para rings so true.

    Wasn’t there some writer – G. Ore Well ? – who rote about a noo speach where most of the words were kinda twisted into there apposite’s and knowbody new hao to juice their Original Englisch anymore? 1894, was it? Or 1489? Sorry, if I kud reed I’d jest look it up en a liberari. ‘Cept all de bux ar burnt now. Big thanks, hail Kail.

    PS Nothing to add

  22. Gordon Willis says

    @rnilsson

    Just offer ten Heil Maries to the Ministry of Truth I mean Love no US Army oh bugger Church that it won’t happen.

  23. Gordon Willis says

    PS By the way, it’s “nyoo”, not “noo”. Just thought you ought to know sorry no.

  24. Gordon Willis says

    Thank you, John Morales. That was lovely. But those rabbits…well, were they supposed to do that? I mean, actually on board, you know? I puzzled about blasphemy when I saw 4 elephants and 8 monkeys, but they were not shown actually going on, so it was just like the Bible — you know how they keep changing things. Still, no one cares about the dandelions. I mean, they weren’t allowed in two by two, were they? Funny how they survived, after all. Oh, and Venus Flytraps — I mean I know they like the damp but, well, and elm trees, and what about cactuses! and I suppose Noah and his family had to actually catch measles and meningitis and cholera and diphtheria and polio and whooping cough and and all those things just so that God wouldn’t drown them all. They must have been really brave. And they had such nice voices. Sigh.

  25. efogoto says

    Jafafa Hots:

    I’m pretty sure that fairy tale is in the public domain now.

    At least until Disney makes a version and claims copyright until 2315

    Disney did. It’s in Fantasia 2000. Think Aronofsky is worried?

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