Friday, October 21, 2011

Noah's Morning After

The morning after a night full of booze, music and dancing. The dreaded hangover. The unfortunately, all too familiar feeling that you are unsure about your actions from the previous night. It was not my intention to be so extremely literal right now, but I could not help myself from using a quote from the crude, yet hilarious film The Hangover

Stu Price: Why don't we remember a Goddamn thing from last night?

Phil Wenneck: Obviously because we had a great fucking time.

After an epic bachelor party in Vegas, three friends wake up and realize that not only is the groom missing, but also Mike Tyson’s tiger is asleep in the bathroom, Stu lost a tooth and got hitched, and there is a random baby in the closet. Although this film is an exaggerated representation of a hangover and the traumatic effects of alcohol, it perfectly explains the aftermath of altered states of mind.

From one cinematic masterpiece to the next, I learned two, valuable life lessons – do not take drugs from strangers and people are actually out of their minds and undoubtedly crazy. The man I am referring to is none other than famous comic artist, Robert Crumb. Throughout this well-done, yet creepy documentary, you quickly discover a lot of intimate details about Crumb’s broken family and childhood that fittingly correlate to his one-of-a-kind personality. And although, no one will ever truly understand Crumb’s psyche, listening to his stories and watching his nonverbal and verbal cues, one can come much closer to understanding the great depth and hidden meaning embedded in his work.

When I - what was it - about five or six? - I was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny. And I - I cut out this Bugs Bunny off the cover of a comic book and carried it around with me. […]

In addition to his strange fixation with Bugs Bunny, accepted as a male cartoon character, Crumb also shares sketches of the girls he had crushes on in high school. These portraits did not emanate the stereotypical “hot girl.” Quite oppositely, these girls appear nerdy, frumpy, and almost masculine. He describes one girl as "[...] A funky girl who had body odor and hairy legs." Despite his young loves, girlfriends and two wives, Crumb confesses that he “has never been in love with a women.” One of his ex-girlfriends even shares his unusual sexual desires and uninterested behavior towards normal sexual intercourse. All of these bizarre habits and actions lead one to believe that Crumb may be either bisexual or homosexual, or at the very least have homosexual tendencies or fantasies. Lastly, as if this man’s life is not weird or complicated enough, his brother Charles committed suicide shortly before the documentary was complete. Crumb’s dysfunctional family and wacky sexual desires lend a greater understanding of his own interpretation of the book of Genesis.

Revisiting the idea of a hangover and the hazy morning after or aftermath of alcohol, Crumb interprets the biblical scene of Noah’s drunken stupor very cautiously and purposefully. In my opinion and with strong evidence from the documentary, Crumb’s portrayal of these scene attempts to establish himself as a less neurotic and perverted artist.

And Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and became drunk and exposed himself within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. (Crumb)

A long-standing question or mystery exists of what actually transpired between Noah and Ham – molestation, rape, and castration are all popular and probable beliefs. However, Crumb does not even touch on or allude to the aforementioned possibilities. His interpretation suggests that Ham’s only offense was seeing his father’s nakedness. Perhaps if Crumb took creative liberties with this scene, it may have been too obscene or erotic for his intended audience. Experiences with his father, suicidal brother and strange sexual desires, could very well have created an inappropriate interpretation of this sacred text. Knowing this much about himself, I believe that Crumb chose a subtle, more childish approach, with his illustrations for this scene. Instead of his usual twisted humor and crudeness, Crumb toned it down a notch (or one hundred notches) in order to prove that he is not as neurotic and perverted as the public perceives him to be.

The way Eddie Palermo feels about Alan in The Hangover is analogous to the way I feel about Robert Crumb.

Eddie Palermo:Listen to me, I'm gonna' tell you something. I know some sick people in my life, this guy is the craziest, wildest bastard I ever met in my life!


  1. I must say I find you prompt to be quite entertaining. I would have never to thought to bring The Hangover into this sense at all. I will say though that the start of the beginning I was not sure what story of the book you were going to be talking about. I didnt find out until the middle of the paper what you were contrasting with the movie. Maybe if you would have just had one sentence or so of what you were going to be arguing would have been good.

  2. Following up on Kelsey - your use of the Hangover is clever, but maybe excessive. Maybe the best way of handling it would have been just to make the essay a little longer - keep the funny introduction, but expand the material which is actually focused on Crumb himself.

    One question. If Crumb was fixated on Bugs Bunny (assuming we believe him) should that cause us to understand him as gay, or as some kind of fetishist? I'd argue that latter, although I'm not sure it's really important. Reading more by and about Crumb might help answer the question if it matter - I'm not sure that it does.

    The real subject matter of your essay is very short and focused on the literalism of his portrayal of Ham's violation of Noah. Although let me add one thing - like the "ordinary" biblical text, Crumb simply doesn't tell us what happens. He shows us Ham watching and laughing, then he goes to his brothers and laughs. We don't know for sure that nothing *more* happened, so at least some mystery remains.

    Your point mostly remains, though. This was the best opportunity ever for Crumb to be Crumb - to be over the top, disturbing, etc. - and he refuses to take it. Your're arguing, basically, that Crumb is kind of using this moment to rehabilitate himself.

    This is a start, but it's only a passing moment, and we do still have Ham's leering smile. So how coud you push this further, toward proof? I'd argue that by finding other, parallel moments when Crumb choose not to be Crumb, but to rehabilitate himself, you could make it work.

    Another point: Crumb stands accused by many people, including in the film of being a misogynist. Maybe from the viewpoint of his critics, it's not a shock that he keeps things low key when dealing with two male characters, since his stock in trade is the humiliation of women, not of men? I'm not sure if I buy that one, but it seems like a possible problem for your reading.

  3. I know this post has already been commented on, but I thought that we're supposed to comment on the post before us, so I will anyway.

    I think it's interesting that you used the Hangover, since it's relatable for most of our class and it's not an obvious choice, but I think it's odd that you spend the same amout of time, if not more, describing the Hangover as you did presenting the argument of your post. I think when you're describing the Hangover, you should present your forthcoming argument as well, so that the audience can anticipate where the essay is going.

    Also, I'm not saying you intended it to be interpreted this way, but you wrote "as if this man’s life is not weird or complicated enough" right after you described him having homosexual tendencies. Obviously, his life is complicated in that it seems he had difficulties discovering who he really is and becoming comfortable with himself, but it can be seen as offensive to describe the fact that he had homosexual tendencies with the word "weird".