Damn These Heels! Film Review: 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture
1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture
Director: Sharon “Rocky” Roggio
Premiered at Damn These Heels! Film Festival 2023
Those raised on the King James Bible (as I was) might be surprised to learn that the word “homosexual” appears in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, a decision that is shockingly recent—1946, in fact—which is of course where the film 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture gets its name.
The film follows Kathy Baldock, a woman who was raised anti-LGBT but eventually changed her mind after getting to know a handful of gay people personally, turning to completely devote her life to being a strong ally and advocate for queer people within Christianity. For years, Baldock has been running seminars on the subject, with much of her material tying back to the aforementioned 1946 translation controversy.
The scripture in question is 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. The issue ties back to Paul’s usage of the Greek word “arsenokoitai,” which is interpreted in various different ways by translators. Some insist that it refers to homosexuality, while other interpretations suggest it may be directed more toward sexual predators. In fact, in 1971, some translations of the Bible changed the interpretation of “arsenokoitai” from “homosexual” to “sexual pervert.”
1946 is generally compelling, but it may be difficult for some non-Christian viewers to connect with the film’s scripture-heavy premise. From a cinematic perspective, it takes a fairly pedestrian approach to its subject material, and so there’s nothing surprising here from a cinematic standpoint. It’s all fairly straight-forward, occasionally to a fault.
One of the men in the film states how he feels disconnected from both Christians and gay people, but the film shies away from really engaging with that thorny and difficult question, boiling most of the film’s thematic complexity to a simple mantra: “It’s okay to be gay and Christian.” Indeed, watching these devoted, gay, Christian scholars try so hard to get their point across to ignorant and bigoted Christians occasionally feels like running into a brick wall, but their tenacity is admirable.
1946 contains an entire subplot surrounding director Sharon Roggio and her notoriously homophobic father and Evangelical pastor Sal Roggio. Interestingly enough, Sharon and her father are on speaking terms and have a fairly good, if shallow, relationship.Sal makes it very clear that he believes homosexuality is a “sin that can be cured like any other.” In all their discussions, he never once budges, and yet Sharon still keeps her relationship with him. When asked about it, Sharon provides a very simple response: “We can all learn how to forgive,” a sentiment that is nothing if not Christian. –Seth Turek