Darren Aronofsky’s epic Biblical drama Noah has been panned by critics and filmgoers alike. The film, which managed to piss off Jews, Christians, and Muslims, has earned over $160 million worldwide, but it’s far from a blockbuster hit. While many have taken umbrage with Aronofsky’s version of the narrative, which veers away from the Bible’s story of Noah, others called the film out for a different issue: its lack of people of color.
When asked about the lack of diversity in Noah, Handel had an interesting explanation for not including people of color in the film: race doesn’t matter.
“From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.”
So, let’s be clear. People of color aren’t seen as “mythical,” and even if we were, Handel and company didn’t bother putting together a diverse cast because they wanted Noah to resonate with “everyone?” Including all the people they left out? Got it.
I guess Waleed Aly of The Sydney Morning Herald was right when he argued that only White people have the ability to be seen as “everyman,” even when they shouldn’t be:
“Only white people have the chance to be neutral because in our society only white is deemed normal; only whiteness is invisible. Every other race is marked by its difference, by its conspicuousness – by its non-whiteness.”
Imagine if everyone in Hollywood felt it was too difficult to cast people of color in films. What would movies look like then?
Oh wait…they already do.