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Complex, real world problems

I saw the new Captain America movie last night. It wasn’t bad, for a comic book movie, and there were a number of things I very much liked about it. The super-heroes weren’t that super — technologically enhanced, really, really good at battling the forces of evil, but also human and vulnerable to mundane menaces like bullets. I think I also like stories that don’t end neatly with the good guy beating up the bad guy, and presto, problems solved. Instead we have deeper issues that aren’t neatly resolved, because we live in a complex and difficult world full of messed-up human beings.

Speaking of a complex world…I arrived at the theater shortly before the 9:00 movie. I was surprised — there was no parking in any of the usual places within a block of the theater, and I had to park a whole block and a half away. That may not sound onerous to you, but it was unusual for me, since this is Morris and I can usually show up 5 minutes before the movie starts and park right outside the theater. The place was jammed. Swarms of people were there for the 7:00 movie.

Heaven Is For Real.

Captain America: sparsely attended. Ludicrously stupid movie that claims Jesus is waiting for you in a magical land of flowers and eternal youth: packed. Both are totally escapist fantasy, but one is honest and openly admits to being a made-up story based on a work of patent fiction, while the other is feel-good bullshit that puts up a pretense of being a true story. This is the reality: that a large part of the population here wants to be reassured, wants to be told that the dumb stories they were brought up on are really true, and wants to be promised that they don’t have to worry about this world because the next one is really nifty … and it’s not the same population that wants to go see a gosh-wow spectacle based on comic books.

Obviously, I don’t see a problem with wanting to be entertained by a work of fiction, but I do see a problem with mistaking fiction for reality, which is the entire premise and appeal of this Heaven bullshit.

Now if I were really sucked into thinking the fantasy worlds of Marvel were parables for how to handle a difficulty, I’d suggest a solution: I just have to find the one nefarious priest in town who has been poisoning the minds of the citizens, and engage him in an epic battle in downtown Morris. Sure, a few storefronts would be smashed, and a few craters would dapple Atlantic Avenue afterwards, but boom, the malignant influence would be gone and the happy people of Morris (who would all be lining the barricades around the city center, cheering) would be free. The End.

But that’s not how it works. There are no bad guys here, no foci of evil. The people sincerely want magical reassurances of a cosmic plan for their lives, and a destiny of bliss and goodness, and they specifically want the fantasy stories passed on by their parents to be literally and completely true. I have no super powers, and in fact, the ideas that I know to be true and verified by evidence and reason — there is no magical resurrection, superbeings like the supernatural Jesus did not and do not exist, we have this one life to live and nothing after death — would mark me as the villain in this story.

Man, real life makes for a lousy action movie.


By the way, the next movie coming to Morris is God’s Not Dead. It’s the story of a villainous atheist villain who is defeated in a final battle with a good-hearted Christian hero. It takes the trope of the movie that supports the reality of a superstition, and combines it with the very worst element of the superhero movie, the ultimate showdown that determines what is right. I imagine the theater will be packed again.

Comments

  1. magistramarla says

    As I mentioned in the other thread, if you have NetFlicks, check out Marvel’s Agents of Shield.
    It’s the weekly TV series that ties in with the films. The writing has been surprisingly good.

  2. tbtabby says

    Marvel should have thought to tell busloads of churchgoers that it was their divine duty to see the movie.

  3. mikeyb says

    The sad truth is Heaven is for Real is totally escapist fantasy that many people really believe in or deceive themselves into believing in. Part of the reason is Americans really are pretty juvenile and childish in their mentality. Another part is the simple fact that life ends and that sucks. Finally another reason is we’re constantly being fed lies about freedom, the American way, the greatest, wealth and power of America, but they look around at their shitty jobs and lack of real opportunity and wonder where is the mismatch, why doesn’t this greatness translate into prosperity for everyone. So if there is nothing to look forward to in this life, why not turn to some fantasy like fundamentalism where you find all kinds of supernatural conspiracies to explain why your life is fucked up and share your misery with others.

  4. Snoof says

    As I mentioned in the other thread, if you have NetFlicks, check out Marvel’s Agents of Shield.
    It’s the weekly TV series that ties in with the films. The writing has been surprisingly good.

    The first few episodes aren’t much. I gave up after six, unable to maintain interest in the characters. I understand it gets better later on, though.

  5. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Reading the review of Heaven is Real over at Daily Kos, I can’t help but think that the “atheist professor”, who is the main character, and portrayed as an obnoxious a*hole, who recants at his moment of death, is just a wicked parody of Dawkins. That review kinda made me want to see it, but not pay to see it, maybe when I can stream it from Netflix I’ll watch it when I want to feel disgusted.
    To bad you did not brave the crowds and watch this piece of drek instead of the glitzy axshun film of a chemically enhanced super-soldier defending Murica from Red Skrull Natsee teknology. I’m sure the Cap was much more fun, but the FantasyFest would be much more rageful (at least, to me, anyway).
    I too am totally amazed at the quantity of viewers for that Religio-movie. I wonder how many thought the title meant it was a Documentary and not just a Story?

  6. Heather Wallace says

    To be fair, Cap has been in theaters for over a month now, so I’m not surprised the auditorium was a little empty. Doesn’t make the turnout for the other film less depressing though.

  7. mikeyb says

    @5 I think you meant God’s not Dead with the evil atheist prof. It is easy get these fundamentalist movies mixed up since they are just different aspects of the same nonsense.

  8. Alverant says

    Cap 2 has also been out for a while so almost everyone who really wanted to see it has already seen it. So I’m not surprised about the turnout.

    @Snoof, sticking with a series for six episodes is good for today’s standards. But I think that unless a show is REALLY disappointing you need to give it a season. This goes double for sci-fi style shows that need time to establish the setting. Star Trek and Star Trek TNG had similar problems. I also think Shield has the problem of not wanting to reveal too much or else Cap 2 would be spoiled. I enjoyed the first season but I also wanted to show support for the idea of a TV series tie in with the Marvel Ciniverse. I think if you went back and watched all the episodes that aired after Cap 2 was released you’ll get back into the series. It deals with the events in the movie and the aftermath (tying it back to the topic of “complex real world problems”). The amount of fallout from the events in the movie are pretty much what you’d expect them to be.

    Heaven is nothing more than a propaganda piece. It reinforces existing belief including the fantasy that someone christians are persecuted in the USA despite making up the majority and having tremendous secular power. If someone made a movie about a priest who eventually loses his faith and becomes an Atheist not only would it flop but there would be whines of “christian persecution” and threats of boycotting any theaters who dared to show it like what we saw with “Golden Compass”.

  9. Menyambal says

    So this movie is based on a book written by a guy who says that his kid said a lot of stuff that just wasn’t possible, after a near-death experience. And the guy is getting money and fame from the book and movie. And the publishers and movie makers are getting money, too.

    Yeah, that is just as plausible as the zombie rabbi story, and just as free from ulterior motives. I believe.

  10. says

    Speaking of taking fiction for fiction: I’ve been slow-cooking this notion some years (or is it decades, now*) that clarifying the intersections between fiction and reality, just getting people to be more honest about this, it might be a big step forward on a lot of this. And beyond that, okay, maybe pretty obvious statement, maybe actually bringing people to a richer understanding of the role of fiction and fantasy in our lives might also drain a little of the bullshit out of this swamp.

    Expanding: we’re well familiar with the fuzzy-cosmology mainstream believer who, pressed on what they believe, will quickly retreat to calling it ‘metaphorical’… But what they really mean by that seems a bit slippery. And you find out, really, if you start pushing and parsing, that, while your English teacher would have to allow their use of the term ‘metaphorical’, what they’re implying by that is itself writing cheques their evidence can’t cash. As in: they mean it’s more a poetic description of some ‘deeper’ reality actually clear language for some reason fails to handle… Which might seem terribly deep, until you start thinking about just why they might be thinking that, just how they could know that, at which point you realize you’re really back to ‘never mind evidence, never mind reason; I’d like to put my gods somewhere you can’t touch them, so this is how I do so’…

    Punch through the logic (and the epistemology of that, especially) given this realization, and you’re also right back to the fact they’ve accepted they have rather poor evidence, at least awfully inadequate evidence for convincing anyone else, and, indeed, the balance of evidence is for cognitive explanations of the origins of religion, social explanations of their survival; no consciousness nor intelligence outside ourselves is in any way necessary to explain them, but they’re still preferring to imply (preferably without having to explicitly defend) ‘other ways of knowing’. So, less gussied up in the standard obfuscating clichés, we’re really also at: ‘I feel it in my gut, and never mind you can actually explain why my gut is of that opinion without some creator of the universe whispering to some inner ear of mine, go away, my gut and I are getting uncomfortable with this whole thing’…

    So I dunno: being able to say, to them, look, just be a little more honest on this, and it’s still not like you’ve lost everything, here, anyway, that might be a useful approach. I mean, value fiction how I think we should, and they’ve still got some lively stories out of the iron (and bronze) age for consideration. I might like them to be a little more critical about those–same way about anyone halfway thoughtful is about all fiction–ask what other messages are in this, how well does this heavenly tyrant fit into their nation’s representative democracy, for instance–ask what kind of ethical sense a substitute human sacrifice makes, exactly–and let’s not assume coming in you’re going to walk out thinking these fables are exactly holding up anything you’d recognize like a contemporary role model–but it’s still literature, it’s fiction we can appreciate, even as we poke and prod at it and ask ourselves man, would I have written such a screenplay, never mind would I have wanted to live in that fantasy world?

    And saying this to them, look, accepting it’s fiction, it seems to me, you can also point out: this doesn’t mean it’s valueless. There’s lots of fiction out there, from the puerile and escapist to the deeply thoughtful, the deeply powerful. You can learn from fiction, good and bad. Better to imagine some worlds, indeed, than to have to go visit them, or turn this world into them…

    … but saying it can be thought provoking (and let’s remember: that can be a rather backhanded compliment) doesn’t make it one bit less fiction. And keeping this straight, it’s only honest.

    … there’s more in there, mind. I think another end of this is: a lot of the religious get rather confused (and I think deliberately confused, by those delivering the message, sometimes) messages about just what the more rigorously empirical and cautious alternative approach to knowledge really is. They go off into these tangents of how they like their cosmology all fuzzy and ‘metaphorical’, because otherwise it sounds like the approach of ‘scientism’, this being in their minds rather a parody marked by overconfidence in human reason and perception. And there I think what needs to be explained, in concert with that above approach to fiction and fable, is listen, no, that’s pretty much backwards: in wise use of enlightenment approaches to knowledge, we qualify our certainty, but, indeed, beyond this, we attempt to qualify it with as much as precision as possible. That is to say: we don’t just say ‘we’re not certain’, we try to give estimates of the quality of our confidence. Don’t just say there are error bars; try to give a sense of their scale. It is neither mature nor honest, to pick one of the standard confusions with most profile, to say ‘we’re technically not sure there are gods’ in the contemporary context especially; this becomes just weaseling around the hot button. Saying, more completely, look, explanations from psychology and civics explain why you’ve got religions; expecting there’s any there there in terms of an outside intelligence is a bit putting things backwards. The fact that there are ways there could still be gods, that you could somehow cook up such a reality not technically at odds with our current observations is rather beside the point, the point being: we’ve no particular reason for thinking there are; our confidence is at least fairly high none of those in the past who claimed to speak to any are likely really to have done so…

    And there it is, again, back at qualifying confidence. And the point is, another way: question is a bit like saying: yes, we get that 1,001 nights is a collection of stories, but still, could there really be genies? To which the answer is, listen, for practical purposes, very frequently what’s technically possible, what’s technically of nonzero probability, that isn’t that useful a question. Not against assessing probabilities. So let’s get this much straight: if rubbing an antique lamp and asking for a mountain of gold figures anywhere in your financial planning, we must recommend you re-draft that plan.

    (/… and forgive me for the lack of TL;DR warning. What can I say. Holiday weekend up here, and I’m sitting here with a summer cold, uneasily eyeing yard work I should probably get at, and it grew in the telling. Anyway.)

  11. Félix Desrochers-Guérin says

    Complex, real world problems

    What about Quaternionic world problems?

  12. sambarge says

    God’s Not Dead. It’s the story of a villainous atheist villain who is defeated in a final battle with a good-hearted Christian hero.

    The only medium for this sort of story is fiction. After all, in real-life debates between Christians and atheists, the victory is never to the believer.

  13. Alex says

    @Félix Desrochers-Guérin

    What about Quaternionic world problems?

    does. not. commute.

  14. blf says

    Now if I were really sucked into thinking the fantasy worlds of Marvel were parables for how to handle a difficulty, I’d suggest a solution: I just have to find the one nefarious priest in town who has been poisoning the minds of the citizens, and engage him in an epic battle in downtown Morris.

    You’ve got it backwards: Yer the scientist. Thus mad. And yer making half-cybrog–half-mutant-zebrafish–half-kraken giant horned peas. Why? Same reason all scientists, mad, do! So you can stage an epic battle with the half-faerie–half-spider–half-cyclops even bigger humongous scaly horse conjured up by some cult, and, much mre importantly, wreck downtown Morris. Every day at 7pm, and twice on Saturdays, unless the municipal clean-up crew say “not again!” and go on strike…

  15. twas brillig (stevem) says

    So does @10 imply that the Infinite Improbability Drive is a real possibility? I read it in a book and saw it in a movie, so therefore it MUST be true! No matter how improbable (impossible is not real, just dismissal), so however small the probability, the infinite improbability drive will make it happen. QED! Well is that BabelFish that proves God does NOT exist? oh yeah Google gots it!

  16. mpachis says

    That is the problem with reality it is not consoling like religion can seem to be. If you got the fuzzy side of the lollipop in life through no fault of your own, i.e. disability, disease, intractable pain and every day is a struggle what would you gravitate to? A “magical land of flowers and eternal youth …” or too bad for you?

    I’m not advocating for the fantasy, but I can see how people want to believe in some thing better than the here and now.

  17. blf says

    (Interesting, for some reason, my “comment is awaiting moderation”. This is an approximate and somewhat edited reconstruction…)

    I just have to find the one nefarious priest in town … and engage him in an epic battle in downtown Morris.

    You’ve got it backwards. Yer a scientist. Hence, mad. And you’ve got vats full of half-cyborg–half-Zebrafish–half-Kraken giant peas.

    Why?

    To battle the half-Faerie–half-Spider–half-witted even bigger humongous horse conjured up by a cult.

    Why?

    To stage an epic battle, of course! And more importantly, to destroy downtown Morris. Every day, twice on Saturdays… until the city’s cleanup crew says “enough!” and goes on strike…

  18. Shatterface says

    Like most non-Americans I’d rather ignored Captain America in the comics until Ed Brubaker’s run a few years back – particularly his principled stand against the Patriot, er, I mean Superhero Registration Act – showed that Cap works better as a symbol for what America could be than what it is.

  19. says

    Like most non-Americans I’d rather ignored Captain America in the comics until Ed Brubaker’s run a few years back – particularly his principled stand against the Patriot, er, I mean Superhero Registration Act – showed that Cap works better as a symbol for what America could be than what it is.

    Superheros just don’t work as a strategy to combat real-world problems — or, at least, not as written. If, say, Batman were to stop spending millions of dollars and vast amounts of detective skill to combat low-level street crime and instead start focussing on corrupt politicians exclusively, or Superman were to use all the mind-blowing alien technology to provide clean, safe energy and spend his time enforcing existing laws against corporate offenders, then comic-book universes would shortly become so much better than ours that they would no longer be relatable at all. (Which, I suppose, is part of why the writers don’t go that route — since the writers are uniformly unimaginative and terrible, and the intended audience is primarily overstimulated 14-year-old males, trying to write superheroes in actual real-world problems would take more intelligence and effort than any of them are willing to put in. People mock Rob Liefield for his art, but nearly every superhero comic is written by people whose writing is the literary equivalent of Rob Liefield’s depictions of female anatomy.)

    In fact, that’s kind of the thing: the superheroes in comic books only take on problems which only exist because there are superheroes. It’s not just Batman, although he is notorious for instigating the creation of most of his more serious foes, it’s all of them. Superheroes are of no tactical use, and don’t improve things for ordinary people, fuzzy warm moments where they give homeless people blankets or rescue kittens notwithstanding. The few times when superheroes actually attempt to address larger problems, either the story is inevitably either a tedious round of “superheroes become fascists who force regular people to conform or die, which turns everything into a dystopia, and the really good superheroes refuse to help with that” or else it’s “Superman flies overhead delivering blankets and bowls of warm soup to the homeless… for one night because of course he has more important things to do”.

    And this is presented as a principled stand, because of course it would be unfair for superheroes to weigh in and insist on, say, sound environmental policy — but it’s always okay for superheroes to trash the possessions of their adversaries, who are always Mad, Evil, or both. A part of why I refuse to watch the movies or read the comics any more is because they encourage simplistic thinking of the sort which the U.S. military requires from its supporters: Of Course We Can’t Do Anything To Actually Improve The World — We’re Too Busy Fighting Bad Guys (Who Are Pure Evil And Can’t Possibly Be Dealt With In Any Other Way).

  20. Shatterface says

    The ‘failure’ of superhero comics/movies to tackle real world problems ‘realistically’ is more a failure of modality judgement on the part of audiences they’re not targeted at; generally those who dismiss comic fans in sexist, patronising, infantilising terms.

  21. says

    @22, Shatterface

    The ‘failure’ of superhero comics/movies to tackle real world problems ‘realistically’ is more a failure of modality judgement on the part of audiences they’re not targeted at; generally those who dismiss comic fans in sexist, patronising, infantilising terms.

    Except that, because Hollywood is now drawing so heavily on the horrible characters and stupid plots produced by DC/Marvel, those of us who are “part of the audiences they’re not targeted at” (i.e. anyone who isn’t an overstimulated 14-year-old male) gets fewer choices they’d actually like to see, in a field where the range is already greatly reduced. (How many movies are made, these days, which aren’t an insult to the intelligence of anyone who isn’t a Fox News viewer?) Frankly, faced with PZ’s choice of Christian dreck or superhero dreck, I would just have stayed home.

  22. says

    Re the general inutility of superheroes, there’s a cute SMBC (I think it’s a SMBC; I just failed to find it) about this: someone pointing out to Batman, that, listen, if you really want to do something about urban crime, using your millions to build the Batplane or whatever gadget is just a dreadful strategy. The real return on investment is in building community centers, funding education, after school programs, so on…

    At which point, the caption observes. Okay, no, this probably wouldn’t make much of a comic book…

    In related, I’ve been slowly working through Heroes, that network series from a few years ago…

    And okay. It’s got some silly in it. But I’m pleasantly surprised at one observation the writers seem to be making…

    I mean, so far, there’s really no one in that mess you’re likely to hold up as a paragon of foresight wisdom, exactly. Sadly, so far, it seems: if you give people super speed, mostly, they just fuck up the world that much more quickly…

    I find this sadly plausible.

  23. twas brillig (stevem) says

    But, but, but. Can’t Comics be metaphorical also? Wasn’t that the metaphorical role of Lex Luthor? To be the metaphor for Big Corp as the ultimate bad guy [since corporations are people now]? But only the Bibble is allowed to be/not be metaphor? Isn’t there a comic book Bibble around here somewhere?

  24. rossthompson says

    To bad you did not brave the crowds and watch this piece of drek instead of the glitzy axshun film of a chemically enhanced super-soldier defending Murica from Red Skrull Natsee teknology. I’m sure the Cap was much more fun, but the FantasyFest would be much more rageful (at least, to me, anyway).

    To be fair, that was the first Captain America movie, set during WWII.

    This one had him defending America against the people who controlled the US surveillance and anti-terrorism apparatus. And he insisted that it wasn’t enough to purge the bad apples and put good people back in charge, but that the entire system needed to be demolished.

    As others have pointed out, despite literally wrapping himself in the flag, Cap is no blind jingoist. He wants America to be the best it can be, but has no illusions that the current power structures are geared to that end, and on most political issues he’s solidly liberal.

  25. rossthompson says

    Re the general inutility of superheroes, there’s a cute SMBC (I think it’s a SMBC; I just failed to find it) about this: someone pointing out to Batman, that, listen, if you really want to do something about urban crime, using your millions to build the Batplane or whatever gadget is just a dreadful strategy. The real return on investment is in building community centers, funding education, after school programs, so on…

    There are two that come to mind, both featuring Superman:
    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2305#comic
    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2012#comic

  26. firstcircleofhell says

    As a person who grew up in the midwest, and moved to the east US coast after college, I think it’s interesting that Morris MN has an Atlantic Avenue, as a major street, no less. I wonder if there is a conservative fundamentalist movement to rename it. I don’t remember the midwest as being this fundamentalist when I was there. Maybe it was and I just didn’t notice, but I think it wasn’t. I think the midwest used to be full of a bunch of lower middle class people who thought if they pooled resources they could have decent schools, and universities, and community arts, and not just be a bunch of poor isolated sodbusters.

  27. David Marjanović says

    Superheroes are of no tactical use

    Reed Richards Is Useless.

    But, but, but. Can’t Comics be metaphorical also? Wasn’t that the metaphorical role of Lex Luthor? To be the metaphor for Big Corp as the ultimate bad guy [since corporations are people now]?

    Of course. Keep in mind that Lex Luthor and Batman have the same single superpower – money.

  28. David Marjanović says

    I wonder if the religious movies will make it across the Big Pond. So far there’s no sign of them.

  29. Zugswang says

    #2

    Marvel should have thought to tell busloads of churchgoers that it was their divine duty to see the movie.

    The last Superman movie tried to do something like that, making not-so-subtle Jesus references throughout the movie, even going to the point of the production company making discussion points for pastors to bring up during sermons in church or in bible studies to tie into the movie’s plot. It didn’t work out well, because the cynical moneygrab was being made by movie producers, not by the people they’re used to being rubes for: con-artists who cloak themselves in ritual and dogma to give flavor to the naive piety they exploit.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=194330396

  30. says

    If you’re looking for a hero, you could do much worse than Captain America, and easily do better than Jesus/Jehovah. Cap was a weakling who gained relatively limited power without ever forgetting where he came from, competes with and surpasses people and “gods” who have way more power than he does, and who strives to maintain his ethics in the face of an increasingly “shades of gray” world. The trinity douche has all the power and uses it to punish people for masturbating and not much else.

  31. Ichthyic says

    I’m watching the Fargo series….

    I still can’t figure how it is you manage to maintain your sanity living where you do, PZ. It was bad enough living in the desert SW.

  32. says

    Per your own words, the movie wouldn’t end with you finishing off the priest.

    You’d have finally given him his due, then turned off his spell (it’s a marvel movie, you got a thingermadoodle), and now have to deal with the aftermath of Captain Cracker and the religious riots in downtown Morris. (they also burned down your house and place of work)

    Then Ed shows up, and reveals that the Spanish Inquisition planted double agents throughout the atheist movement, and have turned it against the US government. The UN just declared Atheists a terrorist organisation.

    It’s fine though, you got Dawkins ready to take over. He died when the USS Evolution exploded, but you brought him back with more thingermadoodle, but you rewrote his memories when you brought him back to life so *that’s* okay.

  33. Ichthyic says

    It’s fine though, you got Dawkins ready to take over. He died when the USS Evolution exploded, but you brought him back with more thingermadoodle, but you rewrote his memories when you brought him back to life so *that’s* okay.

    wasn’t that basically the plotline of that new series “Agents of Shield”?

  34. sugarfrosted says

    @alex

    @Félix Desrochers-Guérin

    What about Quaternionic world problems?

    does. not. commute.

    I would make a joke about Octinionic world problems, but I’m pretty sure you would no longer associate with me if I did.

  35. says

    In an amusing coincidence*, an acquaintance of mine (can’t quite say minister/priest; I’m not sure she was ever ordained) just posted that ‘Einstein and the atheist professor thing’ to Facebook…

    It occurs to me a) I could do a whole thing there, too, on fiction and rigour and urban legends and keeping things straight, and b) really, that second silly movie coming to Morris is pretty much just putting that urban legend on the screen, isn’t it? Or most of the elements. Sneering atheist professor, check, one-upped by the godly, check…

    So far, I’ve just posted the Snopes thing on it (http://www.snopes.com/religion/einstein.asp); guess that’s probably suffiicient, for now…

    And it also occurs to me the overlap between religion and urban legend is pretty substantial. Seriously, I have to wonder if being able to call out spreading mostly-or-wholly-fictional rumours wouldn’t put the brakes on religions also spreading about as well as anything. How many of them would even get off the ground? If Snopes had been around in the iron age, it might have been like: ‘listen, I heard this guy was crucified for our sins; let’s join that thing; I’ve had enough of Zeus and Co. anyway’…

    … and someone would Google it, respond, ‘Erm, no, sounds like that didn’t quite happen… There was this street magician guy used to pretend he could make wine from water, and there was this rebellion in Palestine a little while ago that was put down kinda harshly and a few people got nailed to things while still alive; sounds like maybe these got munged together somehow as people were passing stuff around social media… Anyway, the page says it’s debunked, so, um, moving on…

    (*/Okay. Given the general ubiquity of this stuff in the world, can you even call that a coincidence? Seems a bit like saying, when swimming in the ocean, ‘coincidentally, I got wet’. But anyway.)

  36. lochaber says

    I still liked the bit towards the beginning: “Food’s a lot better–we used to boil everything–no polio’s good. Internet! So helpful. Been reading that a lot, trying to catch up.”

    I like to think it’s a simultaneous dig at anti-vaxxers as well as all of those “remember when America was great” fuckwits.

    I liked the movie. Didn’t think it was anything profound or whatever, but felt it was enjoyable, and fairly well done for what it is. If it comes to the theater that serves beer and shows slightly old movies, I’ll probably watch it again (while drinking).

  37. laurentweppe says

    if I were really sucked into thinking the fantasy worlds of Marvel were parables for how to handle a difficulty, I’d suggest a solution: I just have to find the one nefarious priest in town who has been poisoning the minds of the citizens, and engage him in an epic battle in downtown Morris.

    And then you’d realize that your badass sidekick was a mole who had been working for the priest all along so he could steal your zebrafishes and combine their DNA with Alien nanomachines to cook up an elixir of immortality.

  38. joel says

    God’s not Dead has a 12% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s so bad that even Xian film critics hate it. Patheos says “Honestly, there’s not much to recommend this film”; Christianity Today calls it ridiculous; Decent films gives it a grade of D.

    Heaven is for Real is slightly less bad, with a 49% score on RT, though again Xian film critics just aren’t buying it. What happened to the days when we had Xian films like Lilies of the Field, or The Mission? Xians used to produce really excellent films when they tried, but I haven’t seen one since The Apostle. What gives?