Monty Python can do no wrong, but even the excellent The Life of Brian could have been improved if the associated religion had been a little more, you know, exciting. For instance, take Flying Spaghetti Monsterism. Any religion whose adherents believe in a supernatural creator covered in tomato sauce is sure to be as big a hit as the pasta dish itself. I would therefore applaud efforts to see any of the following creation myths incorporated into some riveting film plots:
Mid-way through viewing Babe, my childhood best friend told me about a relative’s remarkably fast-growing piglet. Its rapid weight gain turned out to have resulted from its unfortunate lack of a rectal opening. Throughout the rest of the film, the disturbing spectre of our loveable Babe exploding added an undertone of suspense. The creation myth of the Native American Zuni people has a similar take. Their version of events proposes that people once lived crowded together in a deep dark place, and the creator Awonawilona sent his sons to lead them out of the darkness. Unfortunately these slimy, web-toed humans were ill-equipped to nourish themselves in the daylight world because they had no mouths. Derp. So while the people were sleeping, the creator’s sons had to cut mouths into the people’s faces. The entire spectrum of human emotion is then explored, as the people go from ‘absolutely stoked to eat’ to ‘severe indigestion,’ because they, like the bloated piglet, also lack anuses. A happy ending is assured when the creator’s sons literally rip each sleeping human a new one.
2. QUICHE MAYA
The creation story of the Quiché Maya Popol Vuh has a handy-dandy moral: essentially, corn should get more credit for the success of the human race. The story centres on the gods’ struggle to create humankind as they test different man-making materials. Frustration builds as it becomes clear that men made out of mud and of wood just won’t come up to scratch. But we see a real climax when the gods stumble upon the novel idea of using cornmeal dough. Voila! Not just a great source of fibre. The corn breakthrough is a great tale of tenacity in the face of shattering disappointment, one we have all experienced when our mud pies don’t really work out.
I would love to hear more talk around the water cooler about the Norse creation myth. It’s impossible for violence to be dull (just look at ice hockey) and the idea that the Earth and heavens were created from the body of a murdered giant makes this one a winner. The vital role is played by a wonderful cow who licks one of the heroes into existence. Perhaps this gives us cause to consume more cheese products? At the very least, the story teaches us that in a world where adoption processes are slow and complicated, you can always use one leg to beget a son with the other leg.
The theme of childbirth, both in creative fields and in day-to-day contexts, isn’t brought up nearly enough. Japanese mythology shows it how it is, the raw and gritty bits included. The story goes that Izanagi and Izanami were given the task of creating land. They married, and Izanami gave birth to the islands of Japan. This birthing thing worked well until Izanami gives birth to a bouncing baby fire deity, and her genitals were terribly burnt to the point where she violently spouted fluids from all orifices, and died horribly.