Earlier this week, Beth’s Facebook page linked me to an ridiculous interview with Kevin Sorbo, of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys fame. Kevin is attached to an appalling movie called God’s Not Dead. What’s this gonna be about? Based on the trailer, it is a feature length version of that old urban legend about the atheist professor’s brain. It’s a story that’s been told over and over again: By Jack Chick in comic form, as a laughable anecdote about Albert Einstein and various other smarty pants people, as a “nerds vs. jocks” standoff with a marine.
Here’s the formula: Wholesome Christian boy meets professor. Professor mocks boy. Boy stands up for Christianity. Boy humiliates professor. Atheist looks stupid. The end. It’s great for a thirty second anecdote, but if you use your
you can drag that sucker to 113 minutes running time!
[Much more below...]
The interview itself reveals all the amazing insights that devout Christian and hyper patriot (he wanted you to know that) Kevin Sorbo gained about atheists, from pretending to be a completely misleading atheist on film. I’m sure you’re all fascinated.
As for the movie itself… let me take a second to plug one of my recent favorite podcasts, “We Hate Movies” brought to my attention last year by Mike Gillis of Ask An Atheist. I’m only bringing them up by way of giving them credit for their schtick, which I am about to steal, of lovingly describing key scenes of really bad movies. So here you go, here’s that trailer. It’s only 3 minutes long, but believe me, there is plenty to work with here.
Guy in a suit with incredibly sinister lighting ridicules a totally helpless Christian woman for no reason! Hello, welcome to my office in the popular Persecution Complex.
A hack reporter does an interview with the Duck Dynasty stars. For freedom! I was originally going to write that the movie has hired some hilariously low budget stand-ins for Duck Dynasty, but I looked it up, and no. Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson is credited as “Willie Robertson.” I forgot that that’s just how they actually look. The hack reporter is recording the exchange on her iPhone (ouch, those traditional media budget cuts really hurt!), missing a golden opportunity to capture their patriotic outfits on HD film.
Enter Kevin Sorbo, the evil atheist professor who is obviously sad that he has not been able to grow a mustache to twirl. Like all good Hollywood Atheists, Kevin has taken a prior life tragedy as a personal insult from the cosmos, and sworn vengeance on God himself. Because we all know you can’t be an atheist without Massive Inner Turmoil!!!
Possibly my favorite moment of the entire trailer, here we have the good professor tossing off a quick Shakespeare quote (Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5), which you would think should be delivered with the detached, slightly smug air of a guy who is showing off his mad literary skillz. But instead, Kevin chooses to read his line with gripping intensity, as if he was expressing his deepest, innermost hatred of life, with a totally originally phrasing that has just occurred to him on the spot.
Introducing: Hapless, idealistic, bright eyed, bushy tailed heroic Christian student Shane Harper, ready to go out in the world and be Persecuted For Jesus™. As the sympathetic older student points out to him, being criticized by an authority figure is exactly like being mauled and eaten by large carnivores.
Just like all philosophy professors do, the first thing Kevin Sorbo announces is that in his class, basic principles should not be backed up by either evidence or persuasive discussion. Just shut the fuck up and agree with my preconceptions, students, because that’s how philosophy works at the university level.
This is obviously going to be a rigorous and demanding class. The first test is to see if you can write three words on a piece of paper. Because again, learning stuff isn’t the point here: obedience is.
Technically, of course, if Kevin Sorbo thinks God Is Dead then he’s a deist, not an atheist, but whatever.
On the flip side of this entirely pointless obedience test, we have the paranoid Shane Harper, who fears that if he writes those words down then shadow monsters will immediately spring up from the ground to claim his soul and drag him to hell, like Willy Lopez in Ghost. Since he cannot pass the “write three words” test, for some reason Kevin Sorbo thinks the appropriate make-up assignment is to debate him publicly in front of the whole class, before he’s taught any actual philosophy. Essay assignments are kind of archaic and boring anyway, know what I mean?
Asian guy with accent is genuinely astounded upon hearing for the first time that some people think that Jesus is God. Ignorant foreigners, am I right?? The stakes are really high now, Shane Harper, because if you don’t win this debate then the Asian guy will have absolutely no other opportunities in his life to hear the message of Christianity, no matter how long he may continue living in the United States.
But seriously, I want to see the syllabus for this curriculum, because I don’t think they’re learning any philosophy at all. I’m fairly certain that not just all the pop quizzes, but also the midterm and the final, will consist entirely of the instruction “Write the words ‘God Is Dead’ on your paper and hand it in.” Quite possibly over and over again, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Hey there Hercules, you know you don’t have to physically push this kid around in order to make him scared of you, right? Threatening him with a failing grade, at least, doesn’t get people fired and charged with assault. But, ya know, this is college, and professors are regularly treated like gods, so I’m sure the system would cover up if we just dump this kid’s body somewhere.
Hot blonde girl doesn’t care about your faith, Shane Harper. She wants all your energy devoted to her, because, women. Eh? They’re all heartless temptresses with no depth, isn’t that right, movie?
Wait, is this Joint Grandstanding 101? I’m sorry, I’m here by mistake, I was looking for Philosophy.
Ya know, for a guy who opened up on the first day with “Never question me!” professor Sorbo sure has handed over his entire semester to a public dick measuring competition with some freshman.
Be sure to watch at 2:06 as Asian Guy listens in rapt attention, his one chance to learn about Jesus surely slipping away.
The hour’s approaching to give it your best,
You’ve got to reach your prime.
That’s when you need to put yourself to the test,
And show us a passage of time.
Were going to need a montage! (Montage!)
Ooh, it takes a montage! (Montage!)
2:30: Zinger delivered! Since atheists aren’t allowed to react to the punchline, I think protocol now demands that we throw up the traditional Jack Chick panels:
Roll dem credits!
* To be fair to Kevin Sorbo, he’s stated in an interview that the ridiculous “disappointed” line was actually an homage to the (clearly much more) talented comic actor Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. Here’s that scene, and it seems like a legit excuse. Still, that bit was too funny not to include.