Thursday, October 14, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11/Fundamentalism

I finally got hold of Fahrenheit 911 last night. It’s all good stuff and comes at the right time. Bush is portrayed as the pea-brained moron that he is. There are two flaws in the documentary however. 1) The portrayal of Baghdad/Iraq as a land of happy smiley people pre-2003 was a bad mistake. Why were there no critical comments about Sadam’s regime at all? 2) The solipsistic US-centrism of the film. As with most American media output, there was little sense of a world beyond American public opinion and an American worldview. Moore’s weakness is an inability to internationalise his argument in favour of a folksy return to the little guy in Flint Michegan.

I then watched some evangelical Christian stuff on local tv. I pushed myself to be as open and receptive to meaning as possible outside of my own language games. But always the evangelical pastors talk such vapid meaningless claptrap. Which makes it all the more bizarre when the camera pans out to the audience nodding vigorously to every sentence.

Taken together, Farenheit 911 and evangelical Christianity show how gullible humans are; how easy it is to manipulate people’s beliefs (especially if you make them fear in advance). Stage management is all. By the intonations and body language of the pastor (sweating, striding up and down, waving his arms wildly, voice going from hushed tones to full volume passion etc.) you would think that he is saying something that actually has meaning. In fact, Evangelical Christianity has become a form of fascism, with no tolerance of any other pattern of belief except its own, and no space for criticism. In other words, the perfect breeding ground for corruption: exactly at a time when Nigeria needs critical/transformative discourse.


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