No Gay Animals on Noah’s Ark

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No Gay Animals on Noah’s Ark

Like many Russell Crowe fans, I ran to see Darren Aronofsky's controversial film "Noah" on opening day. While the iconic image of Noah is that of an old guy with a long untrimmed white beard, this movie version of the Biblical patriarch is one you could never imagine. And Crowe, as Noah, does a fantastic job taking viewers to an unimaginable world.

Aronofsky's Noah is a conflicted axe-wielding social justice environmentalist. Maximus Decimus Meridius of  "Gladiator" resurfaces as Crowe wrestles with an environmental disaster of biblical proportions and with a demanding God commanding an ark be built; one that rivals the RMS Titanic. (The movie ark is built to the same specifications as the Biblical ark.)

Aronofsky, however, freely uses his artistic license in some areas yet keeps certain troubling interpretations of the narrative the same; mainly racism and heterosexism.I was delighted to see the Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:25: "Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham... The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.") excised from the plot. As a text of terror that for millennia gave biblical justification for slavery in this country and then was used to prop up various permutations of American racism, I welcomed its absence.

But I was startled to see no people of color. Since Noah is driven by God's wrath to rid the world of wickedness, I pondered, perhaps Aronofsky is also making a statement with an all-white cast. Another troubling aspect Aronofsky keeps intact with his story is the deluge of hetero-normativity. The indoctrination of compulsory heterosexuality appears innocuous in the film. Its bombardment as normative will be glaring to some viewers and, sadly, invisible to others.

For example, no intrusive or offensive statements about human sexualities— especially lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)—are made in the film as in the Biblical narrative, but the unspoken statement is resounding. It is underscored by the intentional heterosexual coupling of the animals. 

The animals ascending Noah's ark two-by-two  are a spectacular parade, illustrating how deep homophobia has been since the canonization of this biblical tale. And illustrating how long an obsession with gender identification has been with its male/female coupling, too. The normative storyline of the Noah narrative to kids today is that of a big boat, a huge flood, a horde of cute little animals, and the