Anyone see the last South Park, Cartman’s Passover Special? You should see the entire episode, but what I want to focus on is a small section near the end where Cartman relives, in a dream, the Old Testament story of Passover as if he’s the Pharaoh’s son.
I think this is brilliant, because stories from the Old and New Testaments, like most religious myths, are quite problematic for a number of reasons. They may contradict other stories in those books or in some way conflict with them, they may simply be overly silly, or they may be horribly gruesome. The OT and NT have no shortage of such stories and South Park took one of them and presented it brilliantly. Why I say brilliantly is other than putting Cartman in it, they didn’t need to change anything. The story is horrible enough, and flies directly in the face of beliefs and actions dictated by those beliefs by Christians today.
There are no shortage of such stories, and atheists often bring them up to Christians who awkwardly dismiss them as being incorrectly interpreted, read out of context, or some similar bullshit (which, I might add, shouldn’t even be possible in the first place if it’s the word of a perfect god, but that open’s another can of worms). The thing is though I think, even in a rather cheeky example like this one from South Park, retelling some of these awful stories in a visual narrative carries a punch that the written word alone cannot. I think it’s far more difficult to dismiss whatever problems exist in such stories for anyone who believes them to be true, than by simply quoting the story in a discussion. So that brings up my storytelling question:
No matter how horrible a religious story or general belief is and no matter how darkly or, dare I say “faithfully” you depict it in a visual narrative, does the mere fact that you’re portraying a story that some believe to be true or contains elements that they believe to be true, actually reinforce their belief rather than challenge it in any way?
Here are some visual narratives to possibly consider:
• The Oh God films with George Burns
• Mr. Deity
• Kevin Smith’s Dogma
• Time Bandits
• Bruce Almighty or Evan Almighty
• The Saga of Biorn
• Sita Sings The Blues