Reader onein6billion notes that the Intelligent Design flick Expelled! is continuing to ramp up their marketing campaign, this time with an offer to pay “Christian” schools at least 5 dollars or more per ticket if they bus students to theaters.
In speaking with Christian Schools, we’ve found that hosting a school-wide “mandatory” field trip is the best way to maximize your school’s earning potential. Send a field trip home with your middle school and high school students, have each child pay for their own ticket, then collect the stubs at the door once you get to the movie theater. With this model, you also will be able to benefit from the ticket stubs purchased by parents who choose to come as well.
The marketing gurus behind Expelled! seem to be trying to replay their success in promoting Passion of the Christ, but this particular tactic seems cheap and hokey in comparison. Their motive is pretty hard to miss (emphasis added):
Q: Do we have to go to the movie on a particular day to be a part of the fundraising program?
A: Not at all. HOWEVER, it is important for a movie to have a stellar showing at the box office on opening weekend. Therefore, we will only be able to accept stubs submitted within two (2) weeks of the movie releasing in your area.
Important why? For financial reasons, obviously (what movie wouldn’t want the good press of a big opening weekend?), but also, I suspect, because the films’ commercial success (or at least apparent success, even if they have to pay to fill the seats) is a critical talking point for their larger campaign. If the movie duds out, so will the chance to fire up anti-evolutionary activism all around the country.
But what’s really notable here is the way in which the promotional page makes no mystery of which choir this movie is preaching to. The Expelled!’s boilerplate ID rhetoric claims that it’s all about science overlooking evidence for theism, period. But the film’s producers seem to have entirely forgotten about the existence of other theistic or even creationist schools (let alone public schools) when it came time to market the picture. Jewish parochial schools aren’t mentioned in this campaign, nor are Muslim schools, despite both equally believing that the “world was designed by a creator.” It’s an especially bizarre oversight given that their star is Jewish (albeit one that all but worships Christianity as a cultural and political force).
Like much of the rest of this production, this omission seems downright clumsy. Most of the Intelligent Design proponents the movie profiles have worked hard (whether sincerely or no) to try and show that their arguments are valid and scientific, rather than simply a mask for their religious beliefs. Seemingly missing the point of all of that, Expelled! instead wears its religious motives as an unapologetic badge of pride. Expelled! likewise seems to parrot ID’s usual ecumenical rhetoric (“world was designed by a creator”) without understanding that then immediately singling out Christians alone sort of spoils the effect.
Update: Over at the Austringer, a commenter puts two and two together and notices that “mandatory” field trips coupled with “kids must pay for their own tickets” is not exactly a way to win over parents, particularly when those parents find out that the school was getting kickbacks for the shakedown.