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UPSETTING DAY

Upsetting Day: Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible

I was born a heathen and I’ll die a heathen, probably in some kind of heathening accident. I don’t know anything about the Bible. If I wanted a story about unlikeable characters doing shitty magic and learning self-evident lessons I’d watch The Magicians. And I did watch The Magicians until they softened up Penny and he became unfuckable, so what do I want with the Bible? But one thing I do understand is cartoons, and there are more cartoons about the Bible than there are about talking animals and friendship put together. Now, they might be old news to you, but being raised entirely outside of its influence, I’m learning about famous Bible tales for the first time and they are very upsetting. Especially the way they’re portrayed in The Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible — an animated, kid-centric series about the gnarliest parts of The Old Testament. It’s brought to you by Charlton Heston and lax Chinese labor laws, though I think one of those things is a lie. Let’s see if you can guess which one by the end!

Why not start with the episode on Sodom and Gomorrah? I love Sodomy, and Gomorrah is my second favorite Guardian of the Galaxy. But apparently to get to that story, we have to start with Abraham:

Abraham looks like Steve Perry with a wicked Synthwave aesthetic, and you know I love that, but there’s only so long I can watch him wander the Farmer’s Market and attend lackluster raves:

I know that was probably a fuckin’ rager back in Ye Olden Times, but party technology has advanced so far — a fully clothed woman waving wheat in the air barely gets me hard anymore. 

If this show is accurate to the Bible, then the good book really needs some pacing feedback. We spend fully half of the run-time of this episode just following Abraham around while he knocks things off his chore list. He starts looking into real estate, and God just hovers over his shoulder for twenty straight minutes telling him which neighborhoods have good parking. These days we lament the questionable absence of God in our lives, but He was a hell of a micromanager back in the day. I suppose it’s a bit like playing an RTS game: In the early stages God has like eight guys and he’s invested in every one. Clicking them out into the Fog of War one tile at a time all worried there’s an orc in those woods. Cut to a few thousand years later and he’s got the whole map churning out support units and there’s just no way he has the mental space to give a shit about each and every one.

Hey look at that: five hundred words in and we’re already having a crisis of faith and that’s before I’ve even told you this is a musical. One with rock riffs so tired they were written by a Phil Collins Ambien-daymare, crudely rapped over by a child who had to look up “rhyming” in a soiled dictionary only to find half the definition was illegible, all while we cut to stock landscape footage of out of an Uzbek karaoke video.

When Abraham built an altar I figured it was about to get interesting, since that’s the turn in every horror movie. But no, they just laid an extremely cute lamb on it:

And skipped the ‘prep’ section of the recipe:

If I were writing it, this would be the point in the story where it turns out they got the altar address wrong and didn’t appease their own god, but did accidentally anger the Ram God. Yep, this was all a surprise prequel to The Silence of the Lambs called The Roaring of the Goats. The rest of my soundtrack would just be more bleating and screaming and meatslapping than the last half of Baskin, but in Abraham’s world, burning a cute animal doesn’t do much more than explain why you should never leave Steve Perry impersonators around unattended pets.

Let’s just jump to several decades later, because nothing much of import happens: God promises Abraham a son because his wife is barren, but there’s no mystical birth – he just meant Abe should start banging the maid. Turns out Abraham’s wife hates this for some reason, and takes it out on the girl. The maid flees, only to be told to return to her dangerous situation by Ricky-Joe the Domestic Abuse Angel. Everybody lives in a tent for seventy years and it is only through God’s grace that they aren’t riddled with scabies by the time “the Lord and his angels appear in the guise of three ordinary men.”

Which is to say that three dudes wandered into camp and, when asked if they were gods and “would like their feet anointed,” answered “sure thing, buddy.” That’s just Drifter Code right there: Never turn down a footjob, no matter who offers. While Abe initiates some toeplay with what is clearly an opportunistic hobo, the two angels wander off to massacre a town for ill-explained reasons, as is, again, the Drifter Code.

Well that seems like a perfect segue into a jaunty song break!

Despite this episode being titled Sodom and Gomorrah, that’s all we see of either. They get forty seconds of airtime, then explode and are completely forgotten, just like Tricky in The Fifth Element.

Let’s check in with Abraham and his 90 year old wife, who is now giving birth:

That sounds like a scene they’d cut from a Cronenberg script, but this religious cartoon for children is totally cool with exploring geriatric genital genocide. Because this is a miracle birth ordained by God, the child, Isaac, lives to be just old enough to understand dark irony before God appears again, all drunk and needy. 

“I must know if you love me, Abraham,” he slurs, “if I am first in your heart.”

I’ve played the game long enough to recognize that kind of addled desperation. This here is a booty projection, isn’t it, God?

To prove his devotion, God asks Abraham to kill Isaac, and hey — did you guess that the grim walk to burn your son on the whim of an insecure madman was a rad spot for another song break? 

It is pretty impressive that the show manages to set a chill guitar riff to immolating a child — that’s a rare skill set only featured here and on Danzig’s solo acoustic album: Danzig With Myself.

Abe builds the altar and places Isaac upon it, and something in the Chinese sweatshop children animating this must have really resonated with the idea of a father sacrificing his kid due to forces beyond his control, because they drew the hell out of Abe’s grief. Nothing says “the unexplainable sadness of burning my boy” like this face, which I call “halibut getting a colon exam.”

Of course an angel descends to stay Abraham’s hand, but only once they’re absolutely sure he was really going to do it. Like this was all a mean-spirited prank whose punchline is ‘watching parental love die in your child’s eyes.’ God just jumps out from behind a cloud, busting a gut like “hahaha, holy shit! You were really gonna do it! I can’t believe you were actually going to do it. You shoulda — pffthahah — you shoulda seen your face! Y-you were hgghkkhahaha — you were all:”

This article was brought to you by our fine patron and Hot Dog Supreme, Dean Costello: The Meanie of Weanie, the First Chair Cello of Hot Dog Jello.

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