The New York Times has taken notice of the promotional tactics being used for the creationist propaganda flick, Expelled. As you all know, they are trying to filter screenings, allowing only ideologically friendly people to see it, and keeping out the serious critics who might actually evaluate it on its merits, rather than as a media echo of what the viewers want to hear.
There were nondisclosure agreements to sign that day, but Mr. Moore did not, and proceeded to write perhaps the harshest review “Expelled” has received thus far. The film will open April 18, but has been screened several times privately for religious audiences. Mr. Moore deplored what he perceived as “loaded images, loaded rhetoric, few if any facts” and accused Mr. Stein of using a “Holocaust denier’s” tactics.
Which, of course, was exactly the reaction the moviemakers were hoping to avoid by keeping mainstream critics out.
Mr. Stein said in a telephone interview that he had not read Mr. Moore’s review, but that “being compared with a Holocaust denier is nonsense,” adding, “This guy is extremely confused.” He said he decided to participate in the project because “there’s just a lot of people who don’t believe that big science and Darwinism should have a stranglehold on academic life, and they have been waiting for a voice.”
Every time Stein opens his mouth, he’s helping us. This is a movie that uses Nazi imagery to accuse science since 1859 of being the primary cause of anti-semitism — it’s not denying the Holocaust, but instead is trivializing it by using it as a tool to dishonestly browbeat a group that was not responsible. In the 1930s, a political group in Germany used centuries of deeply rooted anti-Semitism to create a popular movement that culminated in the murder of six million people for their ethnicity and a war that consumed practically the entire planet; it wasn’t caused by academics arguing over a theory.
And he projects his bizarre misinterpretations again. “Darwinism” doesn’t have a stranglehold on academics; we’ve moved well beyond Darwin to new ideas, and are constantly wrestling with novel suggestions to expand on the old Darwinian core. To name one example, proponents of evo-devo think they’ve got a set of theories that should change the way we think about evolution. There are smart people loudly arguing on both sides, with the pro side bringing up observations and evidence that emphasize the importance of the discipline, and cons poking holes and pointing out major failings, and pushing for more and better evidence. There is no stranglehold, there are only high standards of evidence that are not met by making propaganda films and getting church leaders with no knowledge of biology to denounce one side or the other. There is hard work required to break through into academic credibility, work which is not being done by the IDists.
We also have expectations of honesty that are not being met. The makers of this film had to hide their motivations every step of the way, because they know that they can’t stand the harsh light of criticism. And they just can’t stop lying.
Logan Craft, executive producer of “Expelled” and chief of Premise Media, said he thought Mr. Moore had been wrong to attend the screening after being disinvited, but both he and Mr. Lauer denied any involvement in an online “media alert” that purported to be from a backer of the film. The alert accused Mr. Moore of posing as a minister to gain admission, calling his actions a “security breach.” Mr. Moore said he never represented himself as other than a reporter.
Oh, come on. I’ve got a copy of the “media alert,” and it’s from promotional material put out by Motive Marketing. Look at the official movie site, and right there on the bottom right is the logo for Motive Marketing. They’ve been bragging about using Motive for marketing, since this is also the firm that promoted Gibson’s snuff movie, The Passion of the Christ. This Lauer fellow is the founder of Motive. A reader has sent me more promotional mail from these guys, and they are peddling the movie hard. And now they’re lying to the New York Times and claiming they’ve got nothing to do with it? It seems to be a kind of pathological reflex to deny, deny, deny even when they’re caught red-handed in something relatively inocuous.
Oh, well. It’s a sign of desperation that they are straining so hard to find a narrow audience that will appreciate their movie; they know that they’ve got a klunker that will rely on appeal to a narrow bias to succeed. Randy Olson has ’em pegged: they want to use humor to broaden the appeal to more than just the theocratic sheep, but their movie isn’t funny. A movie that tries to build on clips of goose-stepping Nazis and Hitler salutes is pretty much destined to be depressing, unless you’re Mel Brooks. And Ben Stein is no Mel Brooks.