Monday, January 12, 2009

A bit of artistic justice

Lurking on some of my usual movie sites today, I noticed a fun fact that has gone unnoticed by the godless blogosphere. I still haven't seen Bill Maher's Religulous; I understand the ACA had a little group movie night when it opened here, which I missed due to being out of town. No one saw fit to blog a review of it here, though, so perhaps it just didn't make much of an impression at all.

Still, it's gotten pretty good notices in Free Inquiry and other sources I keep up with, and so I'm looking forward to the DVD.

But here's the fun fact. Religulous had a minute fraction of the hype Expelled got, and never played on more than half the screens of Ben Stein's disasterpiece. And yet, Religulous almost doubled Expelled's box office take.

So go Bill. Sometimes, the good guys win one. Now all he has to do is jettison his ill-considered anti-vaccination issues, and he'll really earn his skeptic stripes.


  1. I also missed my local group's outing and it's no longer in the area, so I... umm... borrowed it from some... umm... online friends. Hey, I just couldn't wait!

    P.s. It was well worth it. I sure wish I had HBO.

  2. I fell into the same situation as you, Isherwood, and I agree, it is a great movie. I really like the summation in which he flat out says that it's either religion or the survival of the human race and those two things are mutually exclusive. It's nice to see someone not pulling any punches. There are several things I strongly disagree with Bill Maher on, but he made me love him all over again with this movie.

  3. I thought Religulous wasn't much better than Expelled.

    In fact both used very similar tactics (chopped interviews, interviews under false pretenses, silly footage inserts to illustrate a word that's been uttered that were meant to be amusing)

  4. I liked Religulous too, but only because it amused me. I don't think it'll do very well as a persuasive tool. Basically, if you want to sit through 1 1/2 hours of a funny guy interviewing some complete idiots, it's very entertaining.

  5. I can't say I agree with Frikle. Maher may have been less than honest with those he interviewed, but he didn't come close to the outright lying and intentional deception Stein pulled.

  6. Dishonesty in any form is still bad though.

    I must say I enjoy Maher's brand of humor (unrelated to the topic, really)

  7. I'm in a far-off corner of the godless blogosphere, and I noticed it. If it's had less of an impact than expected, then I think it's because of the various conflicts--Maher can't seem to decide whether religion is ridiculous or dangerous (and doesn't seem to connect the two ideas very well), and I can't seem to decide whether Maher is doing more good than harm (with his irrational beliefs and his repetition of the "militant/fundamentalist atheist" meme).

  8. It may seem simplistic in summary, but the main difference between Religulous and Expelled is that while both were dishonest in the production of the film, Expelled was the only one blatantly dishonest toward its audience, both in the film and in the related interviews.

    Maher and his producer actually came out before the film aired and owned up to using questionable tactics in getting some interviews. The Expelled crew even now acts as if the alternative universe they presented in their film is the real one.

  9. @Tom Foss:

    I'm sure someone else can back me up on this, but I think Maher pretty clearly has a misunderstanding of atheism. Based on comments I've heard him make on his show and in the film, he seems to be of the "atheists have faith too" ilk.

  10. Sparrowhawk, my suspicions are that he probably does understand, but does not quite want to leave the middle ground just yet.

  11. I think Maher pretty clearly has a misunderstanding of atheism. Based on comments I've heard him make on his show and in the film, he seems to be of the "atheists have faith too" ilk.

    Yeah, that's pretty much the impression I get. He plays the "If you say one way or another, you're being too dogmatic" middle ground fallacy.

  12. i agree he didn't come close to ben stein's duplicity but i was still a bit disappointed.

    maybe it's because of all the comedians that make fun of religion i don't consider maher to be that funny comparatively


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