In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the monotone Ben Stein investigates the ideas of freedom of speech. Deadpanning his way around America, he talks to believers of Intelligent Design, particularly scientists, who have been unfairly judged or reprimanded at work. Or to put it another way, how the big mean whitecoats goose-stepped into the church and smashed the place up. Excuse the hyperbole, but when faced with overwhelming propaganda that deals a low blow like Godwin’s Law, the call for subtlety has long since passed.
A documentary with a clear agenda is nothing new. Nor is the concept of a documentary that fudges the numbers to fit its ideals. Hell, it worked for Michael Moore. However, Expelled is unique in the frequency in which it does so. It’s less concerned with facts than it thinks it is. There are numerous stories about people who have been fired from universities and colleges for discussing Intelligent Design, but the poorly edited nature of the interviews and the lack of evidence to back their claims does not bode well. In fact a cursory glance at the internet shows that everything is not as it seems. You shouldn’t be able to dismantle a film’s entire message with a few clicks on google and Wikipedia.
Director Nathan Frankowski clearly understands the power of film and it’s emotive processes. Richard Dawkins is introduced with unflattering lighting and somber music, comedy sound effects and clips are used whenever someone says something that goes against the grain and a man’s desire to commit suicide should his brain tumour return is painted as a poorly informed victim of Darwinism. The word ‘terrorist’ is thrown around like it’s going out of fashion and all of this is before the comparisons to the holocaust are made.
Expelled is a manipulative and shambles of a film that will merely preaches to the converted. It’s amusing that Ben Stein argues that there needs to be more balanced discussion in education, when he presents absolutely none here.