Friday, 10 June 2011

Richard & Me

Expelled as a documentary was a failure in so many ways. It failed in terms of being an informative documentary - seen through by almost every critic who viewed it as bad propaganda; it failed in terms of being an entertaining documentary - it was quite frankly boring; and at the end of it there wasn't even a coherent message to the picture. Some people got Expelled or something, and big bad atheists like Hector Avalos are glad that they're playing a role in it - and something about a holocaust.

When I watched it, I tried taking notes but gave up after about 45 minutes when they started talking about the origin of life. I should have known from the interviews Ben Stein did where he complained about evolution not being able to explain gravity. Seriously! Not to mention the interviews with John Lennox and Alister McGrath talking about Dawkins atheism; then the grand finale interview where Stein asked Dawkins about what gods he didn't believe in. Like I said, one huge incoherent mess.

But to be fair, I think the film could have taken inspiration from Michael Moore and delivered what would have been a far more interesting film. Richard Dawkins won't appear in creationist documentaries, so the entire movie could have been about trying to get an interview with Dawkins while showing the moral and social demise of America.

It's not hard to picture the film. Start with pictures of America's glory - show the prosperity and community spirit that accompanies 1950s fantasies, then show the impact that the 1960s brought, overladen with explanations about the focus on American scientific education once Sputnik launched.

Next, have someone other than Ben Stein interview those high school teachers who have lost their jobs for teaching creationism in the classroom. Have parents complain about how their children have been lost to the world of sex and drugs, while showing the popular song by The Bloodhound Gang "The Bad Touch" and singing "you and me baby ain't nothing but mammals so let's do it like they do on the discovery channel."
And surely someone could follow the personal lives of students as they struggled against the evil dogmatic evolutionist teaching, showing the discussions in high school between students over the issues, and taking it to a discussion with the parents and church peer group. For dramatic effect, even include a scene of a child praying in school and being kicked out of class.

But all the way through, there's clips of Dawkins joking about Creationism and God. And the central theme of the movie would be to try to get that elusive interview with Dawkins, so he could answer for the harm done to American society by evolutionary theory. The climax would be having the narrator ask Dawkins a question in the Q&A about the decline of True America and if he even cared about all those people affected by the teaching of evolution.

Blatant propaganda? Yes. But it would be better than the faux intellectual propaganda of Expelled. It would have a more central message, and one that people would take home - about the plight of Christian America. Better still it would humanise the issue, something that was sorely lacking from Expelled. Overall I think it would make for something much more enjoyable, and something that would have gotten the message out a lot better. If one is going to make a Moore-style documentary, as Expelled seemed to attempt at times, then capture what Moore does well. You can propagandise while still making a good film out of it!

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