Ban Ali G?

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Speaking of TV encounters with fictional characters, Jesse points out that a guest on Da Ali G Show has posted a complaint that he was tricked into an interview with Borat, the crass, hapless Kazakhstani TV reporter played by the show's creator, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. James Broadwater, a Southern Baptist minister who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican congressional nomination in Mississippi's 2nd District last spring, worries that Borat/Cohen made him look anti-Semitic by asking him whether Jews can get into heaven.

Broadwater answered honestly according to the teachings of his religion, and he's right that it would be unfair to characterize those beliefs as anti-Semitic, since they do not discriminate among non-Christians (although it may be unreasonable to ask people not to be offended when you tell them they're going to hell). In any case, Broadwater's main problem was not that he came across as a Jew hater but that he seemed pathetic and awkward as he sought people's votes–not unlike Borat himself, who comes across far worse than just about anyone he has interviewed.

In fact, Broadwater's complaint makes the failed politician look worse than the interview did. "This stunt pulled by HBO," he concludes, "is just one more reason why I believe that the liberal, anti-God media needs to be brought under the strict control of the FCC, and that as soon as possible."

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  1. So Broadwater says that:

    1) The media’s liberal.
    2) The media’s anti-God.
    3) The media should be brought under strict FCC control.

    Two out of three ain’t bad.

  2. Liberal media? Yeah, right. After watching the supposedly liberal CNN and MSNBC’s coverage of the DNC, I’d have to disagree.

    Anti-God? Really? Quick, name one atheist-themed show? Bzzzz! Time’s up. Pro-God shows? Hundreds… and don’t forget Sunday morning preachfests, televanglists, 700 Club, TBN, etc, etc, etc.

    And the FCC should be disbanded entirely. A free society would have no need of such a thing.

  3. What would an atheist-themed show look like?

  4. Any show that does not feature at least one character every segment bowing down and giving thanks to the Lord. Praise Him!

  5. Well, I don’t know about athiest themed shows, but there are at least some out there that are created by atheists, and reflect that viewpoint. For example, Joss Whedon, creator of VaPo’s favorite teen-oriented action/horror dramedy, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” once said that he doesn’t believe in “The Great Sky-Bully” and implied that this influenced his writing.

    Not saying that “TV is atheist” but it does reflect the diversity of American opinion on the subject. And the atheists seem to have the better writers. Just look at PAX.

  6. On the other hand, BtVS was famous — or infamous — for killing off Buffy, who then whined for an entire season because she’d been “ripped out of Heaven”. And, of course, took place atop a Hellmouth, and had at least two “Vampires with souls”.

    An “atheist show”, in the sense I believe it was intended, would be a show that actively talked about the non-existance of God, rather than merely being a “secular show” (which doesn’t discuss God at all).

    Think the opposite of Joan of Arcadia, I suppose. I’m not sure what it would consist of, because other than a either a lack of belief in God or a belief in the nonexistance of God (weak and strong atheists) there’s not much else atheists agree on.

    I suppose the closest you could come would be a show where, in moments when someone suggestered prayer, the main character would always state: “I think I’d rather fix this problem then rely on a non-proven being to magically fix it?” and be obviously right.

    TV is fairly secular, as are most things. But “anti-God”? *snort*.

  7. It would have been more appropriate for him to say that television may not reflect his particular religious, rather than it being “anti-God.” To wit I would, tough shit.

    Also, given that the show is on its second season, its almost disingenous to state that you were “fooled.” In the law we call this “constructive knowledge”; this fellow wasn’t bright enough to look into who was interviewing, and got burned because of this. Again, my respons is tough shit.

  8. “wahhh, my beliefs are nutty and offensive to others and I was tricked into openly talking about them on national TV.” — Crazy Christian Election Loser

  9. For example, Joss Whedon, creator of VaPo’s favorite teen-oriented action/horror dramedy, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” once said that he doesn’t believe in “The Great Sky-Bully” and implied that this influenced his writing.

    It might influence his writing, but the Buffy universe is certainly not an atheistic one and doesn’t reflect an atheistic viewpoint. Gods definitely exist in that universe, as does countless other supernatural stuff.

    Interestingly, the Buffy universe is one of the few modern vampire settings in which vampires are actually repelled by crosses and harmed by holy water — and, apparently, NOT by other holy symbols.

  10. Quick, name one atheist-themed show?

    Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

    (I gotta admit, though, the best I can come up with for #2 is “American Atheist Forum” on the public access channel.)

  11. Dan,

    An atheist can technically believe in the supernatural (e.g., ghosts, etc.), just not God(s) – and by God(s) I mean specifically the Yahweh, Vishnu, etc. variety.

  12. Let’s not forget that Whedon’s “Firefly” had a preacher on board his ship full of space cowboys. That portrayl of a religious individual was pretty positive (although it was heavily hinted that Shepherd Book had a rather dark past). On the other hand, Malcom, the ship’s captain, started out as a rather religious fellow until he lost his faith during the Unification War. Make of that what you will.

    Also, J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, is also an atheist and had showed the brighter and darker aspects of faith on from time to time during the program’s five season run.

  13. An atheist can technically believe in the supernatural (e.g., ghosts, etc.), just not God(s) – and by God(s) I mean specifically the Yahweh, Vishnu, etc. variety.

    I am aware that atheists can believe in the supernatural. However, you are mistaken when you say that the God(s) in question have to be of the “Yahweh, Vishnu, etc. variety”. Atheism means not believing in gods; it does not mean “believing in gods, just not the really big omnipotent kind”. Most of the gods worshipped by humans, both presently and historically, are not of the “Yahweh” variety. Indeed, many are mortal, though unaging and extremely powerful (e.g. the Norse gods).

  14. Dan,

    No, you’re wrong my good fellow. An atheist – I am one of them of course – does not believe in the existance of God(s) such as Yahweh, etc. Creator God(s) in other words. The lesser god(s) of say Buddhism don’t apply, in part because they were more along the lines merely supernatural beings, rather being like the God(s) that atheism on its face is concerned with.

  15. Dan,

    Anyway, given this illustration, you can clearly see that the Norse, Greek, etc. Gods would be similar to Yahweh, Vishnu, etc.

  16. In terms of atheistic shows, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Star Trek, especially the original series.

    “God” is never mentioned as a viable entity. There are no (earth-based) religions which are taken seriously. Anything which seems supernatural always has a scientific explanation.

    In this same vein, Scooby Doo would also qualify as an athestic show which constantly affirms there is nothing supernatural and that its always greedy white men who are trying to use your beliefs to manipulate you into parting with your money/land/possessions/etc.

    On the flip side of the coin, its rather puzzling to me that the best expressions of spirituality on screen (Buffy, Firefly, Babylon 5) came from writers who are very very atheistic in their worldview.

  17. Here’s the exchange between Borat and Broadwater.

    Borat: So, which is the party of the homosexuals?

    Broadwater: They tend to go to the Democratic Party.

    Borat: I want to go to this place heaven. Which religion must I choose to go there?

    Broadwater: The Christian Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.

    Borat: If people choose the Jews, will they go heaven or hell?

    Broadwater: Well, I would have to say that they would go to hell.

  18. Let’s not forget that Whedon’s “Firefly” had a preacher on board his ship full of space cowboys. That portrayl of a religious individual was pretty positive (although it was heavily hinted that Shepherd Book had a rather dark past).

    “…that ain’t no Shepherd.”

    Whedon’s writing proves that one needn’t be a believer in order to thoughtfully explore the nature of faith. [Insert standard Firefly-cancellation lament here.]

  19. Oh great, atheist theology. That’s it, I’m gone for the weekend.

  20. “In terms of atheistic shows, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Star Trek, especially the original series”

    actually, there was this one episode where they beamed down to a planet where the roman empire never fell and there was this sect that worshipped “the sun” – it took the entire episode to realize that it was “the Son” – it was christianity. kirk ended the episode with a dreamy look, marveling at how wonderful it would be to observe christianity taking root.

    definitely not atheistic.

    i guess if you’re a bible thumping hardcore type, yeah, anything that doesn’t fit yer own orthodox views, then, yeah, it’s anti christian, too. 🙂

    Mr. Smith: good rant. not enough venom, but good. 🙂

  21. A good writer doesn’t let the strength of his personal beliefs stop him from creating sympathetic protrayals of things he himself may oppose. Bad guys who are just plain evil for its own sake get old quickly. People have reasons for the things they do and may genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing when everyone else considers them evil or insane. Capturing that well is the test of a writer.

  22. “This stunt pulled by HBO,” he concludes, “is just one more reason why I believe that the liberal, anti-God media needs to be brought under the strict control of the FCC, and that as soon as possible.”

    Now why the fuck would the FCC put strict controls onto a viewer subscribed network? This isn’t that goddamn public airwaves HBO is broadcasting on.

    Broadwater is an idiot, thats why he lost the election.

  23. No, you’re wrong my good fellow.

    Whatever. I’m using the dictionary definition, which is the one used by every atheist I’ve ever known. You’re just making stuff up.

    The lesser god(s) of say Buddhism don’t apply

    Buddhism doesn’t have gods.

    Anyway, given this illustration, you can clearly see that the Norse, Greek, etc. Gods would be similar to Yahweh, Vishnu, etc.

    They clearly would not, since out of all the Greek and Norse gods, only Odin was a Creator. The Greek world was created by Chaos, which wasn’t seens as a god and wasn’t worshipped; the Greek gods just lived in and ruled the Earth.

  24. s.a.m.,

    To better serve “gawd!” 🙂

  25. BodhiharmaOnHoliday,

    Star Trek (the original series) never advocated abortion, either, so I guess that it was an anti-abortion show. Also, Scooby Doo was more of a skeptics show, by showing that supposedly paranormal phenomena on the CARTOON were actually quite mundane. As Morat at 4:40pm on July 30 said, secular does not equal anti-God(s).

    <rant>
    Why is it that some theists assume that religion MUST be an important part of the life of EVERY human?! It’s as if someone who doesn’t think just like they do isn’t human! Just because some people prefer to not take seriously the Big-Bully-in-the-Sky stories that so enrapture others doesn’t mean the first group is amoral, immoral, or evil!
    </rant>

    I apologize for the interruption. We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

  26. Dan,

    “Whatever. I’m using the dictionary definition, which is the one used by every atheist I’ve ever known. You’re just making stuff up.”

    Actually, I’m not. You’ll find that these are common thoughts amongst atheists and in atheist circles. Also, the notion that the “dictionary definition” is the “only” definition is a bit silly, especially in the English language – which lacks the sort of “official” dictionary say the Spanish language has.

    “Buddhism doesn’t have gods.”

    Sure it does; read the Tibetan Book of the Dead sometime – its filled with Gods and Goddesses.

    “They clearly would not, since out of all the Greek and Norse gods, only Odin was a Creator. The Greek world was created by Chaos, which wasn’t seens as a god and wasn’t worshipped; the Greek gods just lived in and ruled the Earth.”

    I beg to differ; these Gods were a pantheon of creative deities.

  27. Good Dog! In all this discussion of atheist shows, no one mentioned The Simpsons.
    Although the show is not blatantly atheist, it is certainly anti-organized religion. Consider some quotes:
    After a hurricane, on the church’s sign: “God welcomes all of his victims.”

    “She’s unusually intelligent for a christian.”-A teacher on Maggie’s IQ.

    Lisa-“The Native Americans worhipped things like snakes and trees.”
    Bart-“It’s a good thing we finally got it right and started worhipping a carpenter who died 2000 years ago.”
    All quotes are, of course, approximate and based on my faulty memory.

    South Park also comes to mind.

  28. Good Dog! In all this discussion of atheist shows, no one mentioned The Simpsons.
    Although the show is not blatantly atheist, it is certainly anti-organized religion. Consider some quotes:
    After a hurricane, on the church’s sign: “God welcomes all of his victims.”

    “She’s unusually intelligent for a christian.”-A teacher on Maggie’s IQ.

    Lisa-“The Native Americans worhipped things like snakes and trees.”
    Bart-“It’s a good thing we finally got it right and started worshipping a carpenter who died 2000 years ago.”
    All quotes are, of course, approximate and based on my faulty memory.

    South Park also comes to mind.

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