This blog has spent many days linking to stories about Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming Noah film, and how some folks in the U.S. have been criticizing it on religious grounds, largely sight unseen. I gave the example of one group that has even started an ineffective and silly online petition to try and force Paramount to change the movie altogether, to make it more to their liking. On this blog, I’ve repeatedly made the point that people should wait for the film to come out before criticizing it.
In other words, they should have a common sense response, and not an inflammatory response.
But, it turns out that the American religious audience response to news of Noah has been pretty tame compared to the response of Muslim clerics in Egypt, according to a story that came across my laptop this morning.
According to this story, some Egyptian clerics have stated that Aronofsky’s Noah should be banned in Egypt. Their argument is that the character is a Islamic prophet, and prophets should not be represented in art, to avoid creating confusion among the audience. The story quotes Sheikh Sameh Abdel Hameed as saying:
Depicting prophets in art is a “crime; not art, that is harmful to the image of prophets… Depicting prophets opens the door for doubting the behavior of prophets … Actors cannot accurately mimic the behaviors, manners and appearances of prophets.
If the story had stopped at that point, I would have thought it an interesting footnote to the ongoing conversation about the intersection of religion and the arts. Oddly enough, this call for banning Noah reinforces the truth that Bible characters are not only sacred to Christians, and that in a pluralistic society, we all have to hold onto characters like Noah somewhat loosely, because we don’t own them. In other words, in a free society, Darren Aronofsky should have the freedom to film his interpretation of the story of Noah, and the audience has the freedom to register their like or dislike by paying to see the film or choosing not to do so.
But then I read farther down in the article:
Other scholars have called for “destroying” any movie theatre that displays the blasphemous film.
I don’t know what to say about that, except that suddenly our little angry blogs and petitions don’t look so bad.