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.

For those of you still dubious about Ebert…

…he has just delivered unto Ben Stein pwnage for the ages. Some choice tidbits.

Hilariously, [Expelled] argues that evolutionists cannot tolerate dissent. If you were to stand up at a “Catholic and mainstream Protestant” debate and express your support of Creationism, you would in most cases be politely listened to. There are few places as liberal as Boulder, Colo., where I twice debated a Creationist at the Conference on World Affairs, and yet his views were heard politely there. If you were to stand up at an evangelical meeting to defend evolution, I doubt if you would be made to feel as welcome, or that your dissent would be quite as cheerfully tolerated.

And there is worse, much worse. Toward the end of the film, we find that Stein actually did want to title it “From Darwin to Hitler.” He finds a Creationist who informs him, “Darwinism inspired and advanced Nazism.” He refers to advocates of eugenics as liberal. I would not call Hitler liberal. Arbitrary forced sterilization in our country has been promoted mostly by racists, who curiously found many times more blacks than whites suitable for such treatment.

Ben Stein is only getting warmed up. He takes a field trip to visit one “result” of Darwinism: Nazi concentration camps. “As a Jew,” he says, “I wanted to see for myself.” We see footage of gaunt, skeletal prisoners. Pathetic children. A mound of naked Jewish corpses. “It’s difficult to describe how it felt to walk through such a haunting place,” he says. Oh, go ahead, Ben Stein. Describe. It filled you with hatred for Charles Darwin and his followers, who represent the overwhelming majority of educated people in every nation on earth. It is not difficult for me to describe how you made me feel by exploiting the deaths of millions of Jews in support of your argument for a peripheral Christian belief. It fills me with contempt.

And my own favorite:

Why are [creationists] always trying to push evolutionists over the edge, when they’re the ones clinging by their fingernails?

Bask, people, bask.

Judge lifts injunction against Expelled

In an interesting development, U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein (no relation to “Evolution Doesn’t Explain Gravity!” Ben) has ruled that Expelled can use the 15-second clip of John Lennon’s “Imagine” under the fair use doctrine. Over at PT, commenters are pointing out that this isn’t an end to the lawsuit, but it may be moot at this point. I disagree with the decision — I think it could open the gates to all manner of dodgy copyright infringement — but at this point it really has no impact either way for Expelled, which is already out of theaters in the US after tanking with a pitiful $7.5 million haul after six weeks. The movie simply wasn’t the takedown of science its producers were hoping for. But since they’ve created a nice little insulated world to live in, only exposing themselves to tightly controlled pre-release screenings to which the scientifically-illiterate choir were exclusively admitted, they’ll never know that. So it’s on to the church-basement DVD circuit, where it was going to end up anyway — while, off in the real world, science marches on and people with brains are actually learning new things.

I did find this part of the MSNBC article enlightening.

At a hearing last month, Falzone had argued that the segment of the song in the film — “nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too” — was central to the movie because “it represents the most popular and persuasive embodiment of this viewpoint that the world is better off without religion.”

The film, he said, is “asking if John Lennon was right and it’s concluding he was wrong.”

It’s a nice admission that religionists wouldn’t think the world a happy place unless they had absurd ideologies and irrational beliefs to kill and die for.

Remember Expelled?

You know, the flop creotard propaganda movie that, after 5 weekends in theaters, has only scraped up a sad $7.5 million? (In a comparable time frame, TBN’s 1999 cheesefest The Omega Code had done $8.2m, and tickets were cheaper then.) Didn’t think so. Well, PZ reports today that the ill-begotten and unlucky movie’s latest misfortune is that the judge hearing the case Lennon v Premise Media has ruled to continue the injunction against the film. EMI has also sued Premise over the film’s unauthorized use of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Premise’s claim that the inclusion of the song constitutes “fair use” seems a rather feeble thing, considering they properly licensed all the other songs that also appear in the film. Stupid is as creationism does, you know. This movie, as one of PZ’s commenters points out, could very well go down as the Reefer Madness of the 21st century.

PZ Myers on The Non-Prophets

In case you haven’t heard it already, this past Saturday we got a chance to interview PZ Myers, author of the wildly popular Pharyngula blog, on “The Non-Prophets.” The resulting show is here.

PZ dropped by at 27:23 in the broadcast, and we got to chat with him for about an hour. Topics we covered included Ben Stein’s “Expelled,” science education, Michael Behe’s latest book, and thoughts about what you would have to do in order to make a good pro-science documentary.

Remember to drop by this thread and say thanks!

A nice bit of snark from Ebert

I’m a big fan of Roger Ebert, the famed movie critic who’s been out sick for most of the last year or so undergoing various surgeries. He’s back in the saddle now, while during his absense, most of the reviewing was done by his website editor Jim Emerson, himself a very astute critic.

Anyway, in this week’s Movie Answer Man letter column, it appears as if Ebert’s gotten an indignant email from, one assumes by the text, a creationist who asks:

Q. Readers want to know if the Movie Answer Man is too PC to review “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”?
Ruddy Spencer, Tucson, Ariz.

The real answer would mostly be that Ebert, being a movie critic, only goes to see movies when they’re screened for critics, which Expelled was not, for obvious reasons. But I like Ebert’s reply to Ruddy Spencer better.

A. The last I heard, it is not considered Politically Correct to agree with Darwin. I think it is more like, oh, intelligent.

Zing!

Quite possibly the best Ben Stein beatdown I’ve yet read

If it weren’t enough for this moon-faced git to have ended up one of Olbermann’s Worst People in the World, try this on for size. No one has quite dissected what a deeply immoral, cretinous piece of lying filth Ben Stein is like Jeff Dorchen. Beauty.

That a man, let alone a Jew, could, without shame, walk on the graves of Holocaust victims and claim the theory of evolution was at fault, let alone a man whose nationalism, social darwinism (which is not Darwinism, by the way), anti-intellectualism, and disregard for the truth are beyond doubt – it’s like some ghastly executioner’s joke.

True dat.

Expelled performed below original estimate

The weekend actuals are in, and the $3.1 million estimate for Expelled that was holding as of Sunday afternoon has been downgraded to $2.97 million, with the movie coming in 10th rather than 9th place.

Anticipating an average second weekend dropoff of 50%-65% (which is what you see with most movies), I don’t think this has been the shot fired across the bow of “Big Science” that Mark Mathis and Walt Ruloff were anticipating. But as Eugenie Scott has pointed out, the movie will have a long DVD lifespan, playing the church-basement circuit.

Summation: well, that was over with pretty quick, eh? So, let’s all get back to doing science again, shall we.


Addendum: IMDb is declaring the movie a flop in their weekend box office roundup, and I like the honest way they describe it.

…the Ben Stein documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which argued on behalf of “intelligent design” — that is, the biblical view of creation — failed to bring out church groups in big numbers and settled for just $3.1 million to wind up in ninth place.

Good call, IMDb, for seeing through the pseudoscientific window dressing and recognizing that, yes, “intelligent design” is nothing more than old school Biblical creationism tricked out in jargon designed to wow the uninformed and illiterate. “Ooo, ‘complex specified information,’ sure sounds like summa that thar science type stuff ta me!”

(In other movie news, some dumbass working on the new Bond film ran the movie’s quarter-million-dollar Aston Martin off the road and into a lake. I think he’ll be a long time paying that off. Fail!)