Religion and politics at the movies

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There’s nothing like religion ‘n’ politics to get people riled up, and nothing like the safe anonymity of the Internet to make them unafraid of expressing their anger.

Two of my movie reviews from this weekend, of Bill Maher’s anti-religion screed “Religulous” and the liberal-bashing spoof “An American Carol,” attracted much fiery discourse. They also attracted quite a few visitors to the site who had not been here before, which is always nice.

My C-grade review of “Religulous” falls among the 35% of negative reviews counted at Rotten Tomatoes, and I guess being in the minority earned it a little extra attention. The comments being posted on it are starting to echo the faith-vs-atheism debate that we had on my review of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” and I wonder if our time might be more profitably spent re-reading that thread rather than repeating it.

I found that someone quoted from my “Religulous” review, and posted a link to it, at Free Republic. If you’re not familiar with Free Republic, this is where the rightest-wing crazies hang out. This is where people honestly believe Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, as well as the anti-Christ, and where George W. Bush is revered as one of America’s greatest presidents.

I’m not surprised that the Freepers (as they are known) liked my pan of Maher’s movie, since they are mostly evangelical Christians (and, in fact, tend to believe that evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party are the same thing). But one of their comments made me laugh. Someone quoted my review and added his response as follows:

[Quote from review:] anti-Christianity. Judaism and Islam each get a scant few minutes of screen time, and no other faiths are even mentioned

This is what I thought, but had no proof. No making fun of Bhuddism or Hinduism, and definitely not Islam (Maher is no dummy. He wants to go on living!)

No, idiot. Maher does make fun of Islam — he just doesn’t spend very much time on it. But he does make fun of it. In fact, I SAID he makes fun of it. In fact, I said it IN THE VERY SENTENCE YOU QUOTED.

How do you do that? How do you quote a line that says, basically, “Judaism and Islam are mocked but not very much,” and then say, “See? I knew he wouldn’t mock Islam”? Talk about ignoring the facts that don’t support what you already thought!

Meanwhile, my review of “An American Carol” has gotten tons of comments, mostly from conservatives. Many of these comments were posted in a short space of time, and many of them echo one another, but I can’t figure out why the sudden bombardment happened. My site statistics don’t show the review being linked anywhere other than the usual places (Google and Rotten Tomatoes), but a sudden surge of comments — especially comments that are similar to one another — usually means it was cited somewhere, like “Religulous” was. Maybe the scarcity of reviews at Rotten Tomatoes means more attention for each of them.

Anyway, there’s a lot of support for the movie, both for its actual content and for the very idea of its existence. There’s also the expected “You’re too liberal to appreciate how brilliantly funny this movie is,” which I take as seriously as I take any attempt by a stranger to explain why I did or didn’t like something, i.e., not the least bit seriously.

One of my favorite comments goes like this:

We will be seeing this movie tonight. Cannot wait…sounds GREAT. This is the first time in 8 years I’ve gone to see a movie. I’m so sick of, all the so called “Stars” ramming there views down our throats. Every time I see one of these people telling me how to think, I cross them off my list of movies to watch. I mean it, I will NEVER give one dime to the movie “stars”. They really need to get over there self. THEY MAKE ME SICK, I hope the whole industry crashes. One day it will, as long as they eliminate half the people in the nation. 50/50 last election, I guess the same thing this year. People are passionate about there polictics, best they stay out of mine.

In other words, if you’re a celebrity, do NOT tell this woman what your political views are!! Unless they are the same as hers, as with “An American Carol.” Then it’s OK to ram your views down her throat. But seriously, Hollywood! Stop spouting your political views*! Don’t tell this woman what to think unless it’s something she already thinks!

*The ones that do not correlate with hers, I mean.

(P.S. “They really need to get over there self” provides aid and comfort to the terrorists.)

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