Documentary of the Day – Religulous
February 8, 2012 2 Comments
Religion is a subject that I tend to avoid, more of a live and let live policy. I am agnostic about religion, but I won’t begrudge you for your beliefs. As long as you don’t impose upon me your religious beliefs, everything is copacetic. There is something rather interesting about questioning a person’s religion and their belief structure. Often it is met with a defensive nature, at least in my experience, but often you get to see what makes the person tick or what makes them, well, them. There is a way to approach this subject of challenging and questioning religion that doesn’t really offend, but then I don’t like subtlety and eggshell walking, so why not just mock religion as a whole to get to the truth of it all.
Religulous is a comedic documentary starring Bill Maher. He is an outspoken atheist and thinks all organized religion is just a farce and ridiculous when it comes to ruling ones life. It’s a snarky take on the investigative nature of documentaries with Maher traveling all over the world to particular religious sites and meeting with prominent figures of different religions to get down to the basic of beliefs. It insightful while being entertaining, often offering up a religious belief before crassly taking it down with logic and humor.
The documentary is actually really insightful in the way that it brings together some of the extremes with religion but never outright trashing it. Sure he is a comedian and snark is one of his tools to be funny, but he does it in a honesty way that sidesteps making fun of the interviewee and their belief. He asks questions that get to the heart of belief structure, trying to understand why one would want to follow a faith that seems hokey and controlling. There are nuggets of truth amongst all the comedy and it really is a well done documentary.
Having grown up in the Catholic faith and having religion class being the worst class I scored in, this is kind of a reassuring film about my choice to not follow religion. I went to see it with my parents and they also were brought up in the faith, but like me, they choose to reject religion in some fashion. It was interesting seeing them laugh at the general tenants of religion and the lampooning it receives. You really get a complete perspective on religious beliefs and the sort of blind faith you have to have in following a particular religion. It’s funny to poke at the cloth of faith, but it never really becomes polarizing. For the faithful who might come across this documentary, you might be offended. I can see how someone telling you your religion is a joke, but you have to either keep an open mind about this point of view or declare a jihad on it.
The aim of the film isn’t just to make fun of religion or the faithful. Sure it comes out like that during the film, it isn’t until the closing of the documentary when you see what Maher is getting at with religion. He juxtaposes his journey and religion with the ongoing strife and conflict that it causes. You begin to see that religion, in some instances, are the cause for a lot of the worlds problems. Christians imposing their beliefs on the world, Extremists in Islam calling for jihads and fueling conflict or even the blindness of people following faith without questioning the motives. He pleads in well reasoned rant that religion itself, will end the world. It’s not the bombs or war that does us in, it’s the people and their beliefs that are the ones that control the bombs and fuel the war.