Friday, April 18, 2014

Stirring things up with Secular Shows, Characters and Issues

By Gary Berg-Cross

Between the new Noah movie and the new Cosmos series espousing the scientific method over faith-based belief we've seen some  conservative Christians howling about the culture.  Cosmos provides a real presence of secular-scientific values and thinking infused into the culture as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson genially poo poos creationist arguments about intelligent or the Jewish testament-based, fundamentalist claim that the Earth is about 6,000 years old. 

In a recent WAPO article called ‘From ‘The Good Wife’ to ‘Cosmos,’ a good moment for atheists and scientists on TV’ Alyssa Rosenberg noted atheist (and pretty normal but strong) character Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies) standing up to her teenage daughter Grace’s  fervent conversion to Christianity. In the aftermath of the death of a major character there was this exchange as Grace pushed the idea of heaven. She got push back.

“What does that mean, Grace? He’s in heaven? With angels and clouds?” Alicia demanded when her daughter told her that Will was “with God.” ”What does it mean if there is no God? Why is that any better?” Grace asked of her mother. “It’s not better,” Alicia responded. “It’s just truer. It’s just not wishful thinking.”

As noted in Voices, when Alicia more or less “outed” herself as an atheist to a reporter last season despite the political impact, it outraged some fans. 
'One upset viewer wrote on ReligiMedia blog that many “good wives” had identified with Alicia but now found her “far less sympathetic and frankly a tad bit revolting.”'

These shows follow movies like The Ledge by atheist writer and director Matthew Chapman (see trailer) which was a recent talked-about films with an openly atheist “heroic’ character who philosophically contemplates suicide.   Such movies confront some of the easy assumptions about the religious basis for morality. Earlier I'd blogged about the movie Agora which features the last Alexandrian librarian HypatiaBTW, there’s even a Facebook page for Atheist Movies but it mostly covers books and other media.

Now there is a new movie in that vein by Baltimore-based  independent film maker and theorist Erik Kristopher Myers. His first feature film, ROULETTE, released on Thanksgiving 2013 to positive critical reviews, includes a negative portrayal of Christianity and its examination of Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. It’s led to some outraged response from viewers, film festivals, and potential distributors alike.

Myers will be discussing the film and his attempt to dramatize a balanced examination of the cause and effect of a religious upbringing at the April 19th (2-4) WASH meeting held in the Rockville MD library.  He will talk about the personal consequences of his endeavor in the face of an industry that shies away from perceived anti-Christian commentary.


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