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You gotta believe

3 minutes

Goddesses of antiquity offer Moses a path away from patriarchy – via funk and soul

The Book of Exodus chronicles the Israelites’ flight from slavery in Egypt under the guidance of Moses, and their eventual covenant with the Abrahamic God. While Jews celebrate this founding myth as a triumph, the Jewish US writer, cartoonist and filmmaker Nina Paley wonders whether the events of Exodus might represent a disaster rather than a triumph: The episode marks a pivot away from ‘humankind’s original deity’ Mother Earth, towards ‘agriculture, and its attendant sins of property, hierarchy and slavery’. Her animated feature film Seder-Masochism (2018) recasts the events from Exodus as a struggle between the prehistorical ‘Great Mother’ and the Abrahamic ‘forces of patriarchy’. In this brief excerpt from the film, feminine figurines and statues of goddesses from antiquity tower above a rather small and forlorn Moses. Capturing the triumphant spirit of the traditional Exodus reading, and turning it on its head, they dance and sing – somewhat surreally – to The Pointer Sisters’ 1976 hit ‘You Gotta Believe’, its repeated refrain asking ‘You gotta believe in something, why not believe in me?’

Video by Nina Paley

Website: Seder-Masochism

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Essay/
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