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March 16, 2009 | by  | in Film | [ssba]


Everyone knows or has known a newborn atheist. Having just recently made the discovery that when we die we aren’t going to face the big sky bully but rot in the ground, they rage around attacking religion like it touched their children. Luckily, people tend to grow out of this. They soon realise that while it is kinda funny that several billion people believe fervently in the literal truth of texts that are up there with Harry Potter in the backed-by-scientific-evidence stakes, religion has been a force for good sometimes, and that treating it as a catch-all boogeyman to blame for all the evils of man is ignoring some of the more obvious problems with society. Bill Maher, American “comedian” (the quotes are because I am still yet to hear one person genuinely laugh at one of his jokes), still seems after a few decades to have not had that epiphany.

Religulous, his documentary of religion is very clearly the work of a still newborn atheist. Maher rages about the world, confronting various religious figures and blustering in their faces. He alternates between being smugly amused at their silly little thoughts and declaiming angrily at their overly closed minds. Like a petulant child or mid-period Michael Moore, he sees all the interviews as simply opportunities for his subjects to embarrass themselves, and when they don’t he makes sure that they do. By yelling or laughing.

Religulous is directed by Larry Charles, who also directed Borat. While Borat had a clear sense of distance from its ignorant bully lead character, Religulous sits right in Maher’s pocket. We’re supposed to be on his side as he declaims at length about how the world is literally going to end if we don’t stop religion now. Which even I, as a fervent atheist, have to disagree with. Maher is an unpleasant host, like that guy at every party who starts talking about how the Maori people should be sterilised. No one likes what he’s saying or really agrees but he’s too in love with his own voice and opinion to ever realise that above all else he’s just being a dick and should just STFU.

Written and presented by Bill Maher
Directed by Larry Charles
Showing in the World Cinema Showcase at the Paramount 2–15 April 2009


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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