Monthly Archives: March 2018

Is the alternative narrative actually alternative?

OK, my previous attempt at creating a theological discusssion failed dramatically. Here’s another try.

Hollywood is attempting to move away (in its own way) from a white, male dominated narrative; i.e. the white male superhero comes in and kills the bad guy, saves the world and gets the girl.

Now here’s the thing, I reckon (“I” being white, middle aged, middle class and male) the latest pro-African movie (Black Panther) and feminist movie (Tomb Raider) seem to challenge that narrative.

I don’t think they do. Why? Well, because the hero (T’Challa or Lara) still uses the same methods as the white dude to carry out their mission (Batman, Superman or Spiderman). This constitutes mainly violence and the threat of violence.

OK, my theological problem with both of these films, and most others is this. By the way, this is the theology bit. Christ triumphed over evil, sin and the evil one, not by violence (redemptive violence Hiebert calls it) but by suffering on the cross. This questions Hollywood’s actual narrative (actual as contemporary and actual as the real narrative); i.e. violence is a [the] solution to geo-global issues.

John’s gospel makes it abundantly, and disturbingly (as His followers) clear that the divine method of redemption follows the course of suffering not triumph. In John’s passion narrative, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of (ek) this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from (ek) another place” (John 18 36, NIV). It is clear from what Jesus says that this “other place ” (where his kingdom comes from) does not consider violence as a solution to political issues [i.e. who is king?], unlike our movies.

Then later in the narrative this interchange takes place, “When Pilate heard this [this being, that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and therefore king], he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” [cf. John 18:36] he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:8-11), Even with the power to free himself, Jesus did not consider violence as the solution to his, rather critical predicament.Matthew 26:53 clarifies that legions of angel could be drafted in to resolve Jesus’ problem but he would not do so and therefore, Peter’s use of violence was not needed.

Two issues emerge here. Firstly, where Jesus comes from, the heart of the Father, violence does not solve political issues. Secondly, even when God himself, has the power to free himself via violence, he chooses not to. Suffering is preferable to violence These are both counter-cultural narratives and put into stark relief two films which claim an alternative narrative. They change the colour or gender of the hero but don’t change the essential problem.

Some questions to consider. Firstly, is it possible to make a film where “anti-racist” and feminist values are promoted? Secondly, is it possible to have a film that does not simply nod to the massive talent of black actors and to female actors but also promotes their values (I am assuming that both are non-violent and willing to suffer; cf the suffragette movement)? And finally, can the, what I consider to be, the alt-right narrative of Hollywood films be changed and thereby redeemed for the kingdom of God?

My critique is that pro-African and Feminist media have not emgraced a radical enough agenda, or is it simply violence sells?

Comments please. Shoot me down!