The New York Times just published a brief 12-minute documentary on Ark Encounter, the supposed Noah’s Ark “replica” in Kentucky that has long been a glaring tribute to Creationism in America. It’s part of their long-running “op-docs” series meant to be a “forum for short, opinionated documentaries by independent filmmakers.”
Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert doesn’t give us much of a deep dive here — Ken Ham doesn’t even make an appearance — but that’s not necessarily his goal. He’s really just introducing viewers to the fact that this place exists. There’s no opinion offered about the Bible story, or Creationism, or how the $100 million travesty has hurt the local community, or how Answers in Genesis discriminates in hiring.
We hear from one local business owner who appreciates the Ark because “Williamstown was finally getting something. Because all of our businesses in Williamstown closed.” That belief can’t be discounted, but a more thorough film could have included commentary on what Williamstown lost in the long-term in exchange for that short-term boost.
Ultimately, it functions as an unintentional advertisement for the Ark precisely because there’s nothing critical about it in the film. It’s like Republican senators appearing on a Sunday morning talk show; unless the host directly calls them out on their bullshit, it’s another opportunity for them to pretend like they’re normal politicians.
It would be bad for viewers if they came away from this short movie thinking Ark Encounter was just this nifty attraction in Kentucky — Look! Zip lines! And ice skating rink! — and not a symbol of Christian ignorance, wasted money, and poor government decision-making. Much like Ham’s debate with Bill Nye, you can bet Creationists will treat the film itself as a win for them, telling potential donors that they have received positive attention from a mainstream publication.
That may not have been Seifert’s goal, but that may well be the end result.
(Thanks to Dan for the link)