Monday, October 06, 2008

Religulous and "Pundits"

So a gaggle of us saw Bill Maher's Religulous Sat Night.

The good news: Billy C and I got senior discounts without asking.

The bad news: Billy C and I got senior discounts without asking.

When I realized what had happened, I felt like going back to the window and demanding that the young lady take more of my money.

The film entertained me. But here's my complaints about Bill Maher, whom I think is funny and whose shows I have always enjoyed:

1. The vast majority of the people he talked to were ridiculous people who had no idea how ridiculous they sounded. Other than a couple of catholic priests and one scientist, most of the people he interviewed were fringe people who clung a cartoon version of religion. It was hard to take them seriously. A couple of interviews with muslims were also pretty calm--but I find it hard to judge all believers by extremists. I know from panels Maher has had on both Politically Incorrect and Real Time, that he knows of religious leaders who have a more intelligent view on faith. Maybe it would not have been the same film, but why not talk to a few of those people.

2. Just as with his book When You Ride Alone, You Ride with bin Laden, he interrupts important points to remind you that he tells jokes for a living. It's as if he doesn't trust the material enough to let it speak, and get laughs, for itself.

3. He's a smart guy, but, like most contemporary "pundits," he doesn't have all of the answers. He may have a lot of them, but not all of them. I get tired of "pundits" who have no more qualifications than you or me telling me what to think. Ask the questions, Bill. I'll do the thinking for myself.

But I am glad I saw it.

1 comment:

vivage said...

I don't think I'd call Bill Maher a pundit. Opinionated yes, comedian yes, but pundit no.

I read that Bill never tells the audience what to think but rather says don't take things on blind faith. I haven't gotten the idea that he's trying to sway anyone from any faith but is asking that the atheists stand up and be counted. To think about doubt.

I'm also wondering if you thought the Catholic priest at the Vatican was a fringe person?

He does talk to more learned people on his show, his consistent message is "I don't know (if there is a god and you don't know there is a god". And of course he makes fun of anything "magical". He is firmly agnostic.

I don't happen to agree with his entire stance on religion but I do happen to agree that we often accept things on blind faith because we're told, not because we know.