This latest pan comes from Felix Salmon at Condé Nast Portfolio (a relatively new business magazine). He notes yet another “martyr” story that turns out to fall apart rather quickly when you look past what the movie tells you:
My favorite bit, unsurprisingly, was when the film quoted Pamela Winnick thusly:
If you give any credence at all to Intelligent Design, you are just finished as a journalist.
Not at the New York Times you’re not, clearly.
Winnick is presented in the film for all the world as a diligent journalist – a Jewish journalist, no less – who just happened to mention Intelligent Design, en passant, in one of her columns, and ended up getting fired.
Omitted from the film: any indication that Winnick is the author of “A Jealous God: Science’s Crusade Against Religion,” published in 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Or that in her journalism for the newspaper from which she was fired she talked of Darwin’s influence on eugenics and Hitler, and “the serious people –scientists included — who continue to challenge his theories.”
That’s actually even understating it a bit: Winnick is something of a polemicist who took a fellowship grant from a conservative think-tank to write about “why there seems to be little tolerance for teaching creationism in America.” Her repetition of creationist talking points throughout her writing is not exactly subtle (she calls evolution a “secular religion”), and she’s apparently an avid quote miner. As with Carolyn Crocker, the “just one tiny little mention” implication is simply ridiculous when you start to look into the facts.
After reading a lot of these sorts of reviews, it really seems the film is unlikely to break out of core demographic of evangelical Christians. It doesn’t seem to make any serious case against evolutionary theory: or even for Intelligent Design. It just assumes that its audience will buy accusations of witchhunts, gasp at atheists, and tearfully condemn “Darwinism” for making the Holocaust a reality, and just generally all nod in understanding, knowing intrinsically that evolution is ridiculous without having to have it demonstrated to them.
Mainstream journalists and movie-critics have almost universally cringed at the craven manipulation, particularly its exploitation of the Holocaust, and pretty much all of the glowing reviews have come from either right-wing talk show hosts or the very sorts of evangelical religious publications and organizations that have been on board and promoting the film from the start.
Which is not to say that even all conservative Christians are or will be convinced by it either. It’s one thing to initially win over an audience that’s receptive to your overall message and accusations right from the start. It’s quite another thing when viewers start digging deeper, beyond the big screen.