- Ben Stein’s name was never mentioned as an interviewer until the last second.
- Producer Mark Mathis lied about the production company making the film (“Rampant Films” doesn’t really exist.)
- Mathis lied about the title of the film (It was never going to be called Crossroads).
- Mathis lied about the nature of the film (saying it was about the Intelligent Design “controversy,” not an all-out propaganda film against evolution).
So Mathis and Stein were contemptible liars, right?
I was looking forward to seeing comedian Bill Maher‘s upcoming movie Religulous — a movie that is supposed to illuminate the irrationality of religion.
Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times, however, writes about the similar tactics that went into making Maher’s film.
So how did Maher manage to get all these people to actually talk to him? Since “Religulous” was directed by Larry Charles, who also did “Borat,” I suspected that subterfuge and trickery were involved. I was not far wrong. Here’s how Maher pulled it off:
Essentially, they didn’t tell interviewees that Bill Maher would interview them until the last second.
And they used a fake working title:
On how [Maher] got people to talk to him: “It was simple: We never, ever, used my name. We never told anybody it was me who was going to do the interviews. We even had a fake title for the film. We called it ‘A Spiritual Journey.’ It didn’t work everywhere. We went to Salk Lake City, but no one would let us film there at all.”
On the element of surprise: “Larry Charles’ theory is — just keep going till they throw you out. I guess he learned that on ‘Borat.’ The crew would set up and at the last second, when the cameras were already rolling, I would show up. So either they’d be seen on camera leaving the interview and lose face or they’d have to talk to me. It was like — ‘And now here’s … Bill!’ You could usually see the troubled looks on their faces. At the Holy Land theme park, the PR woman freaked out and finally told us to leave. She was definitely not a happy camper.”
No word yet on whether a fake production company’s name was used.
I assume interviewees knew they were going to speak about their faith without knowing the film would mock their beliefs.
And while Expelled at least duped intelligent people, it looks like Religulous went after the nutcases that even religious people would say are embarrassments to their faith.
So, does Religulous get a free pass from atheists because this movie is on our side? Are we condoning the methods used to make the film because they show religious belief at its kookiest?
Or will we come out and admit the tactics used to make this movie were no different from those of the despicable Ben Stein and his crew, lowering us to their level?