People are still interviewing me about the silly Expelled movie. The most prestigious news source so far, though, has to be my campus newspaper, The Register. They even ran it on the front page of their April Fool’s issue, a signal honor which I only acknowledge at this late date because I was so busy gallivanting about that I missed it. You’re supposed to be able to read it at the source, but the link seems to have gone all flaky, so at least until it’s fixed, I’ve put the interview below the fold.
University Register: For those who haven’t been following along, could you give a brief rundown and explanation of what happened when you visited the Expelled private screening?
Step 1: I signed up for a screening of this new movie, Expelled, in which I have a small part. (UMM might make an appearance in the film, since my interview was recorded here!). I also reserved a spot for a guest.
Step 2: I called up my friend Richard Dawkins, who is fairly well known as an evolutionary biologist and atheist, and invited him out on a date. He said yes! He was going to be in town anyway, and he has an even larger part in the movie.
Step 3: At the appointed day and hour, Richard and I showed up at the AMC in the Mall of America, all dressed up and dapper. We also had our entourages with us.
Step 4: A burly security guard pulls me out of the line and informs me that the producer of the movie doesn’t like me, and that I’m being kicked out.
Step 5: They fail to notice our entourages or Richard — get that, they didn’t notice the most famous atheist/evolutionist in the world — who sails through the line and is forced to watch an incredibly boring, badly made propaganda film about scientists being a bunch of Nazis who won’t let evidence-free guesses about magical Intelligent Designers be taught in the schools in the guise of science. He was not happy. I’m sorry, Richard. Our date was ruined.
Step 6: I went to the Apple store instead, and blogged about it all. Then I went to the bookstore for a while, and then the food court. I had a most excellent time.
Step 7: I got to spend much of the next day on the telephone, talking to reporters who also thought the whole story was hilarious. The whole world ended up laughing at the moviemakers — EPIC fail. Evolution FTW!
UR: When you arrived at the theater, could you give us a brief description of the candy and drink options that were available, and your general impression of the quality of the selection?
Alas, no. Although a few members of my group had left the movie line to get refreshments, I was intercepted before I could score any Junior Mints. It may have been a factor in my expulsion: as an Official Certified Scientist(tm), they probably feared that I might have been able to cobble up some high explosives and a jet pack from the reagents on sale at the snack counter, so they moved quickly to prevent a McGyver-like eventuality.
UR: You were asked to leave by guards employed by the Mall of America. Did you feel those guards felt unable to confront your guest, Richard Dawkins, due to his nationality, and do you feel the situation would have been resolved differently had you been confronted by agents of Scotland Yard, MI-6, or James Bond?
Since he was on American soil (Mall of American soil, no less), that would have been highly inappropriate. It would have been better to have brought in the CIA, but we know that Felix Leiter always looks the other way when British agents are at work, so no, it would have turned out the same.
UR: While blogging from the Apple Store after being expelled from the screening, did you receive prompt and helpful service from employees for all your questions about Apple software, hardware, and other merchandise?
Yes, very much so. I got a demonstration of the multi-touch trackpad in all of the new Apple laptops, which is very, very nice. I may have to get a new computer.
UR: While awaiting the movie’s end, did you visit the newly opened Nickelodeon Universe theme park to enjoy its wide variety of Spongebob Squarepants-themed attractions?
No, I’ve been avoiding it. Although I adore Spongebob and consider him a sterling role model for all of our fine students at UMM, I have a dread of the Hasselhoff. I’m still traumatized from the Spongebob movie, which was fabulous until the moment the Hasselhoff showed up — and now I have a fear that if I attended the theme park, the Hoff might suddenly show up and offer me a ride. Or a Whopper.
UR: In your original blog post regarding the incident, you made an analogy to a sabot, a common material in bullets. Do you possess a conceal-and-carry license, and as a public figure, would exercising your second amendment right as a citizen have made you feel safer at night in the Mall of America theater?
I don’t carry a gun, and I haven’t even fired one since I was a teenager. I am completely helpless, so no, a gunfight at the MOA would not leave me feeling safe.
UR: The Expelled movie claims that scientists are being improperly blacklisted for their beliefs. What are your concerns about the validity of this claim with regards to Professor Jonathan Crane, who was recently released from his position at Gotham University after being revealed as The Scarecrow?
I think Dr Crane is free to seek employment at an institution that would appreciate his talents, like the Discovery Institute, Liberty University, or any of thousands of bible colleges all across the country.
UR: The Expelled producers are dealing with at least two intellectual property issues: pirated copies of their movie being made available early, and alleged copyright infringement in background music. Do you feel that Metallica, with their history of political involvement, should issue a statement against Expelled?
I’m more of a Radiohead kind of guy. I’d rather see Thom Yorke come out against Expelled. Since Yorke hangs out in Oxford, just like Richard Dawkins, perhaps they could get together and do a duet.
UR: Where did you stay for your visit to the Twin Cities? If you did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express, do you think your visit would have been more successful if you had?
It was a Sheraton. I didn’t need any kind of edge going into this debate; with that gang of incompetent bozos behind that silly movie, I could have come in with a concussion, a hangover, both arms tied behind my back, and a blindfold and still outwitted them (unless, of course, they’d recruited David Hasselhoff instead of Ben Stein for their movie. They didn’t though, so I was fearless.)
Besides, my visit was incredibly successful as it was. I caused creationists great discomfiture, and got to sit at Cinnabon and read a book without having to watch their crappy movie. I also now have the honor of telling everyone that when the creationists saw me and Richard Dawkins in a lineup, I’m the scary one they sent an armed guard after.