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 "The Ledge": an atheist movie
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the_ignored
SFN Addict

2558 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  06:45:55  Show Profile Send the_ignored a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The site is here.


Wonder if it'll be any good. As for "promoting atheism", if nothing else, at least Pullman's books did well, even if his movie didn't in the States. I'm hoping that this movie does better. I also hope that the portrayal of both sides is accurate to forestall any complaints.

For those interested, here's what is at stake:

Although the film was nominated for Best US Drama for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has huge potential to promote atheism, it could also be a crushing defeat. How many watch it -- and it just came in 3rd in Russia against Pirates of the Caribbean and Kung Fu Panda -- determines the push it will get nationwide. If Brokeback Mountain had failed at the box office, it would have scared investors away from gay-centric films for a decade. When Passion Of The Christ came out, it was heavily supported by Christians, and consequently Hollywood made several more faith-based films. It is vital that we atheists prove that we support films that support us. This is how the door opens.


Well, some more reading has led me to this. Let's just say: Fuck. Positive atheist role models? The xian, while loony, does NOT act in any way I've ever heard of.

Shit.

I'm trying to figure this movie out. Is it supposed to be pro-atheist? Because the atheist pursues and sleeps with another man's wife, causing the other, begrdged man to snap. That's... not exactly a very positive view to take.

And then the devout Christian goes nuts and homicidal and seems to provide an ultimatum - kill yourself or she dies.

I dunno... it looks like a pretty tense, awesome movie, but not exactly the best representation of atheism or even particularly friendly towards Christianity... or am I missing something?

>From: enuffenuff@fastmail.fm
(excerpt follows):
> I'm looking to teach these two bastards a lesson they'll never forget.
> Personal visit by mates of mine. No violence, just a wee little chat.
>
> **** has also committed more crimes than you can count with his
> incitement of hatred against a religion. That law came in about 2007
> much to ****'s ignorance. That is fact and his writing will become well
> know as well as him becoming a publicly known icon of hatred.
>
> Good luck with that fuckwit. And Reynold, fucking run, and don't stop.
> Disappear would be best as it was you who dared to attack me on my
> illness knowing nothing of the cause. You disgust me and you are top of
> the list boy. Again, no violence. Just regular reminders of who's there
> and visits to see you are behaving. Nothing scary in reality. But I'd
> still disappear if I was you.

What brought that on? this. Original posting here.

Another example of this guy's lunacy here.

Edited by - the_ignored on 06/25/2011 07:30:50

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  09:52:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If the review above is correct, it looks like the movie is a psychological thriller. Dunno. I don't know what themes are addressed. But it might be counter productive to portray the Christian as a psycho killer. Of course, that sort of thing will be fun for atheists.

I think the movie of Carl Sagan's Contact did a pretty good job of portraying an atheist as honest and not someone out to eat Christian babies. I wish there were more movies with a protagonist like that one, if the idea is to humanize atheists so they are not seen as the least trusted people. And that is the goal, right? Perhaps there was too much emphasis on the Christian and atheist/skeptic aspect of two legitimate modes of looking for knowledge and putting them on an equal footing.

And the truth is, there are lots of movies that attack Christian fundamentalism. Movies that show how religious dogma can lead to terrible things. Movies like The Crucible and Inherit The Wind. There are several others.

I also think House portrays an atheist in a pretty good light. Put aside his shenanigans, most of which have nothing to do with his atheism, and you're left with a very complex character who's ultimate goal is to save lives. (Behind that gruff exterior and all that.) Now and then they do explore atheist themes on that show. Amazingly that Fox puts up with it. But the Fox entertainment division seems pretty much not connected with the news division. The Simpsons has been poking fun at Christianity since the git-go. Flanders.

And just so you know, in my view protecting secularism and even expanding it tops the list of those things I'm concerned about on the atheist/skeptic/theist front of the battle we are in now. How to do that, of course, has become a matter of much debate.



Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  10:57:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Patrick Jayne in The Mentalist was also atheist, but unfortunately his atheism wasn't really explored deeper. The potential for philosophical debate between him and people of faith was great but whoever called the shots for the show failed us. A pity, really.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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the_ignored
SFN Addict

2558 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  15:19:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send the_ignored a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Contact". That's what I was thinking of too. Subtle pro-atheism message and the xian terrorist there as well as the Ralph-Reed knockoff did act realistically.

>From: enuffenuff@fastmail.fm
(excerpt follows):
> I'm looking to teach these two bastards a lesson they'll never forget.
> Personal visit by mates of mine. No violence, just a wee little chat.
>
> **** has also committed more crimes than you can count with his
> incitement of hatred against a religion. That law came in about 2007
> much to ****'s ignorance. That is fact and his writing will become well
> know as well as him becoming a publicly known icon of hatred.
>
> Good luck with that fuckwit. And Reynold, fucking run, and don't stop.
> Disappear would be best as it was you who dared to attack me on my
> illness knowing nothing of the cause. You disgust me and you are top of
> the list boy. Again, no violence. Just regular reminders of who's there
> and visits to see you are behaving. Nothing scary in reality. But I'd
> still disappear if I was you.

What brought that on? this. Original posting here.

Another example of this guy's lunacy here.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  17:00:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by the_ignored

"Contact". That's what I was thinking of too. Subtle pro-atheism message and the xian terrorist there as well as the Ralph-Reed knockoff did act realistically.
Yeah. There was a Christian terrorist in the movie, but I don't think her friend was a Ralph Reed knockoff. I don't think he was even fundamentalist as Ralph Reed surely is. He was of the thoughtful variety of Christian. A liberal Christian if you will...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  17:28:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the movie Contact (I never read the book), the liberal Christian comes off as the reasonable middle ground between the religious terrorist on one extreme and the rational-but-emotionally-stunted atheist on the other. After Ellie challenges him to "prove" the existence of god, he actually manages to stump her with this inane exchange:
Palmer Joss: Did you love your father?
Ellie Arroway: What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.
Ooh! I guess the smarty-pants atheist hadn't thought of that one!

Contact doesn't demonize atheists, but to call it a pro-atheist movie is a huge stretch, especially considering the explicitly supernatural ending.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/25/2011 17:31:15
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Randy
SFN Regular

USA
1990 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  17:55:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Randy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nice bit of script at the end of Contact....

Rachel Constantine: I assume you read the confidential findings report from the investigating committee.
Michael Kitz: I flipped through it.
Rachel Constantine: I was especially interested in the section on Arroway's video unit. The one that recorded the static?
Michael Kitz: Continue.
Rachel Constantine: The fact that it recorded static isn't what interests me.
Michael Kitz: [pauses] Continue.
Rachel Constantine: What interests me is that it recorded approximately eighteen hours of it.
Michael Kitz: [leans forward so he is looking directly in the camera] That is interesting, isn't it?


"We are all connected; to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically."

"So you're made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?"
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  17:55:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

In the movie Contact (I never read the book), the liberal Christian comes off as the reasonable middle ground between the religious terrorist on one extreme and the rational-but-emotionally-stunted atheist on the other. After Ellie challenges him to "prove" the existence of god, he actually manages to stump her with this inane exchange:
Palmer Joss: Did you love your father?
Ellie Arroway: What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.
Ooh! I guess the smarty-pants atheist hadn't thought of that one!

Contact doesn't demonize atheists, but to call it a pro-atheist movie is a huge stretch, especially considering the explicitly supernatural ending.


As I said, the movie had faults. But I don't think that Ellie was presented as emotionally stunted. And yeah, I mentioned that they sort of presented both she and Palmers methods as being equally valid in their quest for knowledge. But she was presented as an atheist who was rational and not worthy of the kind of mistrust that atheists must endure. They even showed that happen in the movie, when Palmer excluded her because she was an atheist. The move made clear that the decision was unfair and even Palmer admitted that he used her atheism against her because he was afraid she might die in the experiment.

And what explicitly supernatural ending do you speak of? This wasn't Avatar.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  18:04:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Edited to clarify which bits Kil accidentally edited:
Originally posted by Kil
But I don't think that Ellie was presented as emotionally stunted.
H.H. She was portrayed as a workaholic loner with daddy issues.

Kil: Had nothing to do with her atheism. She was interested in astronomy as a child and her father was a scientist. She went into the same field because she would have whether her father lived or died. She did feel that she was carrying on the family tradition I suppose, and of course she was effected by her fathers death.
And what explicitly supernatural ending do you speak of? This wasn't Avatar.
H.H. Meeting her dead father in heaven. Oh, I mean meeting an alien simulacrum of her dead father in a serene alien paradise, solving her abandonment issues and allowing her to love again.

Puke.

Kil: So an alien saying he didn't want to scare the crap out of her (I'm paraphrasing) solved her abandonment issues? It was made clear that the image of her father was taken from her mind, and that whatever that being was, wasn't actually her father.

Did we see the same movie?

Contact


Arroway begins her journey, outfitted with several recording devices. When the pod travels through a series of wormholes, she is separated briefly and can observe the outside environment. This includes a radio array-like structure at Vega, and signs of a highly-advanced civilization on an unknown planet. She finds herself in a surreal landscape similar to a picture she drew as a child of Pensacola, Florida, and is approached by a blurry figure that resolves into that of her deceased father. Arroway recognizes him as an alien taking her father's form, and attempts to ask questions about extraterrestrial life. The alien deflects her questions, explaining that this journey was just humanity's "first step" to joining other space-faring species.



"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/26/2011 18:45:54
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  18:34:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ok, so I Googled "Contact" and "pro-atheism?" to see if others shared my opinion of the film. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found an old Pharyngula thread discussing the portrayal of atheists in film. It seems like most posters there had the same problems with the movie I did:

Duane Tiemann

Recall the movie "Contact". The heroine's atheism was favorably portrayed.

inkadu

Contact?

I haven't read the book, but the movie was an annoyance-fest for me.

"Do you think your father loved you? Prove it!" Oh, snap!, take that, atheism! The blow was only slightly softened by the fact that Matthew Mcconaughey is totally hot.

Peter

The book Contact is excellent. The movie on the other hand made it into a diluted piece of attempted feel-good fluffery with the weighty issues of personal, interpersonal, intercultural, and scientific discourse bleached out of it. The direction and acting spoon-fed the standard easily digestible emotional fair.

Carlie

I thought the movie of Contact was much too equivocal at the end. She waffled entirely under the heavy questioning, and left it open, and it turned into a stupid "spiritual" ending. Contact would be a positive portrayal of an atheist if you skip the last 10 minutes of the movie.

Colugo

Contact was a religious movie all the way through. Mysterious revelations from above; a totally benevolent and wise heavenly host; "resurrecting" the dead; magical passage to heaven. Contact is formulating a religious/prophetic experience in (very strained) "scientific" terms.

As Arthur C. Clark wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

The super-science of a speculative alien species provides a loophole for the existence of "real" magic for rationalist atheists. Which makes me wonder what psychological yearnings are really underlying the SETI project.

I'm an atheist, and I don't dream of angelic aliens heralding a millennial transformation of the world through magical super-science.

"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  18:36:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oops. Kil, I think you might have edited my post with admin privileges instead of replying to it.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  18:44:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Oops. Kil, I think you might have edited my post with admin privileges instead of replying to it.


Ooops! I'm sorry! Dang! But hopefully I got most or all of the pertinent quotes in.

And I don't really care what the people who post at Pharyangula have to say. It's obvious that some felt as I did and others didn't. Either way, she was portrayed as an atheist who doesn't eat Christian babies and is worthy of being trusted.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  18:53:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
Either way, she was portrayed as an atheist who doesn't eat Christian babies and is worthy of being trusted.
Don't set the bar so high...


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/25/2011 18:54:07
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  19:00:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Originally posted by Kil
Either way, she was portrayed as an atheist who doesn't eat Christian babies and is worthy of being trusted.
Well, so long as we're going to set the bar so high...


Considering that atheists are the least trusted people in America, what is it that you want? Do you want people to walk away thinking "hey, they're not bad" or do you think that we should always be in attack mode? We did get a crazy fundamentalist in the movie, but no crazy atheists, eh? Sure. The movie had flaws that I have already acknowledged. But if it's setting the bar low to present an out atheist (remember when the film was made) and make that one of the themes of the movie, placing her in a good light, what 's your problem with that?


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  19:22:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm not saying the movie was a disservice to atheists, but I am saying we shouldn't be content merely because a movie didn't portray us as monsters. I would like to see atheists portrayed as happy and fulfilled, not morose eggheads constantly searching for what's "missing" from their lives. And I'd like to see an atheist who doesn't react to weak apologetics as if hearing them for the first time. It's as phoney as a Jack Chick tract pretending that a biology professor would be stumped by questions from a creationist.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/25/2011 20:07:21
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2011 :  20:02:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

I'm not saying the movie was a disservice to atheists, but I am saying we shouldn't be content merely because a movie didn't portray us as monsters. I would like to see atheists portrayed as happy and fulfilled, not morose eggheads constantly searching for what's "missing" from their lives. And I'd like to see an atheist who doesn't react to weak apologetics as if hearing them for the first time.


Sure. And I guess that will have to be another movie. Though while Ellie was most definitely an egghead, as you said, I didn't find her to be particularly morose and searching for what's missing from her life. Unless SETI and the constant problems of fighting for funding in a politically motivated bureaucracy falls under that category. I guess we see her differently.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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