Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Invention of Lying

I'll get to the movie in a moment...but first...

Christians Gone Wild

When I read the reviews on Netflix for the movie The Invention of Lying, I read several reviews from angry Christians who felt that the movie insulted them and their religion.  Yes, the movie does cast religion in a humorous light, and yes, it had strong parallels to Christianity.  The movie was a comedy - it was meant to be humorous.  My favorite comment among the reviews though was one that went along the lines of:
Why is it that people/movies are always bashing Christianity and not any other religion?
Uhhhh...'scuse me?  I have some answers to that question and you're not going to like any of them:
  1. The premise in the question itself is absolutely wrong -  I believe that if you opened your eyes a bit, you'd see that other religions are made fun of on a regular basis.  Several examples:  You'll see Jewish people almost always associated with their stereotype.  It is rare that their principles are ever shown in anything less than humor, except when discussing the holocaust (and that should be taken seriously).  Same thing goes for any of the Eastern religions and for the Muslim religion (they're all "terrorists," right?).  The Jewish people in particular are comfortable enough in their faith that they see no real "threat" to having a laugh at their own expense.  Apparently that cannot be said for Christianity.
  2. It is because you shove your religion down everyone's throat - I hear and see in my daily life how my rights and privileges are threatened because you feel that everyone in the USA should believe as you do.  You go from door-to-door and from country-to-country trying to convince people that your belief is the only way to believe, and non-believers will burn in hell.  You have television stations and programs that do nothing but pound into the head of your followers that they should live their entire life in the name of Jesus, and preach that those who stray from that belief will also burn in hell.  You take your message into government and try to force me to believe as you do, maybe not in the absolute sense but in taking away things that I may find pleasurable or important because you feel it doesn't fit your religion's sense of morality.  You have gone to the point of declaring that the USA is a "Christian nation," and it isn't.  You should be surprised that you aren't laughed-at more often than you are.
  3. You're not the subject of humor even more because people are afraid - So maybe you've noticed yourself as the subject of humor more often than you'd like these days.  That's actually progress because people are generally so afraid of pissing you people off that they often will skate-around any kind of humor associated with Christianity.  You've shown us that you're not afraid of exerting influence in law to force people you don't like (like homosexuals) to have less rights than you do.  The more extreme ("fundamentalist") Christians have had no problems using violence and other terrorist tactics to prevent people from doing what they don't want us to do, even when it is lawful.  Your religion is based in fear so that shouldn't be surprising.  Instead of leading by example, you lead by force and fear.
Now I know there are Christians out there who are not like this, and I apologize for not having a word to lump the humor-impaired faction of your religion into a special category.  My point here is that the movie The Invention of Lying does make us question our belief system, regardless of what it is.  While their example was undeniably based in Christianity, the message was that we should always be questioning what we believe, and that sometimes what we believe and what is morally right can be in conflict.  It is when people live in the world of "faith" blindly following an arbitrary belief system and not in the real world is when they get into trouble.

The Movie

I liked The Invention of Lying.  It isn't among my favorites, and the outcome was kind of predictable, but it was still funny and enjoyable.  If you're looking for roaring laughter every second, then this is not the movie for you.  It was a more subtle kind of humor (some people have said "dry," and I'm not sure I agree).  Just like a sci-fi movie, you have to remember that this is not a documentary - it is fiction.  The movie does a great job of making you feel like you're in a world where everyone tells the truth.  So just as you shouldn't be expecting that space ship in a sci-fi flick to be 100% technically correct (otherwise we'd be flying space ships between galaxies already), don't expect the situations in this movie to be 100% technically correct either.  It does have a message, as I have explained above.  The movie isn't preachy, really.  It does, however, leave you with a lot of thoughts after you're done watching.  I actually sat quiet for several minutes thinking about some of the things I believe and how I make some of the decisions I do.  In an attempt to avoid spoiling the movie for you, I'll simply say that the story presents an interesting hypothesis about how religions are born, and I happen to believe that hypothesis.

The best part of the movie is that it's one of those stories where you're in the head of the underdog, and you're constantly rooting for him to win.  Everyone knows people like some of the asses in the movie, and you're just waiting for them to get their just dessert.  It is a romantic comedy, and the focus is around the romance, but there is so little of the kind of romance you see in most films of that genre that there is a refreshing feeling about this one.

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