The folks over at Expelled! have been bombarding me with promotional advertising lately. The latest is what appears to be a mockup poster, complete with those little movie critic quotes. Well, not real movie critics exactly: right-wing talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Michael Medved (the latter, it should probably be noted, actually works for the Discovery Institute, the very Intelligent Design Think-Tank celebrated in the film). But then there’s this far more legitimate sounding quote:
-Ted Baehr, editor, MovieGuide
Wow, four stars! From a MovieGuide, no less! Sounds great.
On the other hand, MovieGuide is not quite the non-partisan outfit you might think. In fact, it’s a less of a movie review site and more of a, well “ministry dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles, by influencing entertainment industry executives and helping families make wise media choices.”
Just as a sampling of what that entails, one of their recent news headlines reads: “Ford Accepts Demands to End Its Sodomite Bias.” Its review of the Will Ferrell fart-movie “Semi-Pro” notes that the film has a “Strong mixed pagan worldview with light Christian references, but set in a comical context” In fact, most of its reviews seem to use words like “pagan” and “humanist” without any hint that the reviewer understands what those words mean.
And, as it happens, Ted Baehr isn’t just any ultra-extreme evangelical paga-phobe. He’s an ultra-extreme evangelical paga-phobe who presents himself as an independent reviewer of films despite the fact that he also gets paid to promote various films through his for-profit marketing company, Kairos Marketing (which now seems to have either changed its name or gone underground). According to Christianity Today:
Several film reviewers say they’ve never heard of a movie critic taking money to promote films. One prominent reviewer said that it’s ethically “about as far over the line as you can go.”
While ethics certainly haven’t proven necessary for the promotion of Expelled!, it’s really no surprise that Baehr would love Expelled! regardless. Still, his actual review is still a pretty priceless read. It’s like a gag reel of every goofy misrepresentation that Expelled! is trying to push, all bought hook-line-and-sinker by a guy who thinks that Will Ferrell worships Baal. Here’s a sampling of what I mean:
He interviews professor Richard Sternberg, who lost his long-term job at the Smithsonian Institute (wrong) because he dared to publish a peer-reviewed article (wrong) with two or three references to intelligent design (wrong). The article did not endorse intelligent design(wrong), but the very mention of intelligent design brings severe repression from the pseudo-scientific academic community (wrong). He then talks to Dr. Caroline Crocker, who lost her professorship at George Mason for having one reference to ID (wrong).
Heck, if this guy would only learn to bold random words, he could probably get a “gig” replacing fictional movie-critic Jackie Harvey at the Onion.