Sunday, June 15, 2008

not so intelligently designed

warning: spoilers included

The Happening
opened this weekend to a decent box office, but not such decent reviews. I'd been pretty curious about the movie. That moment in the previews when the girl in the park prepares to stab herself in the neck with a knitting needle from her hair? Absolutely chilling. Plus, I love me some Zooey Deschanel. However, the reviews have been pretty harsh, particularly io9's, which points out an element of the film that I hadn't picked up from the previews. M. Night Shyamalan, a devout Christian, has been weaving religious elements into his films for some time now. So it isn't too much of a shocker that The Happening is a thinly veiled argument supporting intelligent design.

Mark Wahlberg is a "science teacher," who argues against climate change and evolution as reasons behind the disappearance of the honeybees, and instead proposes " act of nature we can't understand." In other words, an act of God. The sudden development of plants secreting toxins that lead people to kill themselves is the same thing. It's not a scientific development, it's just something that we can't understand. And the idea behind the movie is very Rapture-esque, no?

Additionally, poor poor Zooey Deschanel is relegated to playing the bad wife who wants to wait to have children and doesn't ask her husband's permission before hanging out with a male colleague from work. How dare she? And once she finally comes to her senses to take up her mantle as a good and proper wife, Ta Da! The crisis miraculously comes to an unexplained end and the young wife becomes happily knocked up. So what, feminism threatened the end of the world?

I don't have a problem with intelligent design as a religious theory. I believe that anyone should be able to believe whatever they choose. Even Scientologists. I do have a problem with intelligent design masquerading as scientific theory. It has no place in public schools or scientific curriculum of any kind, and presenting it as such is irresponsible and dangerous.

I try not to judge a film based on reviews alone, but I can safely say that this isn't a horror movie I'll be seeing anytime soon. Plus, I hate the title. It's all too bad, really. That scene with the man lying down in front of an industrial lawn mower looked pretty awesome.

I hope audiences are intelligent and discerning when it comes to the subtle nuances of this film. Of course, it sounds like everyone would rather see The Incredible Hulk anyway, considering its positive reviews and its number one opening at the box office. Who needs religious propaganda when you have Bruce Banner wreaking havoc and battling Abomination? Hulk smash!

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