Great Moments in Stupidity, I

Just as I was getting ready to take a break from the old word processor the High Gods of Human Stupidity took pity on me and sent down by way of their greatest prophets, the Fox News Channel, the material for this first essay in the Great Moments in Stupidity series. Normally my commentary would be in a humorous vein but this one is totally devoid of such lighter moments.

It seems that a certain Ted Baehr, who bills himself as a “Christian Movie Critic” on his Ted Baehr’s MovieguideÃ?© web site, has issued a scathingly uncomplimentary review of the recently (last weekend) released Talladega Nights: the Ballard of Ricky Bobby which stars Will Ferrell in the title role. This review, which he titled “Mocking the Bible Belt and Red State America,” contains the following impressions:

“… A satire of the NASCAR racing scene, the movie is a racist, bigoted work that ridicules the Bible Belt, Southern white men, Christianity, Jesus Christ, the family, and American masculinity.

“Hollywood … stood silently by when Dan Brown and Ron Howard mocked Christian beliefs and Roman Catholic leaders in The Da Vinci Code… when Martin Scorsese claimed in The Last Temptation of Christ that Jesus was a mixed-up wimp who was so weak-minded that the film opens with Jesus making crosses for the Roman pagans so they could brutally execute many thousands of people. And, they have stood by silently for many years while Hollywood gave up one negative stereotype (the shuffling black man) for another stereotype – the dumb Southern white male.

“… Talladega Nights is one of the most blasphemous, politically correct major movies ever released by a major Hollywood studio.”

Do you get the impression that Baehr wasn’t exactly happy with Talladega Nights? Sadly, there are too many people whose beliefs parallel those expressed by Baehr. Let’s take a line-by-line look at Baehr’s blatant use of the very tactics he decries when used by others.

In the first paragraph quoted above Baehr uses no les than eight “buzzwords” (racist, bigoted, Bible, white men, Christianity, white men, family, and masculinity) in what must be nothing more than an attempt to use these words to appeal to passion rather than reason.

Ditto for the second paragraph, in which he attempts to cast himself in something of an ecumenical light by citing the controversy generated in the Catholic community by Da Vinci and among practically everyone over Last Temptation. He does not explain what either movie has to do with Talladega Nights.

(You can read my opinion of The Da Vinci Code at

More of the same appeals in paragraph 3: blasphemous, politically correct and that favorite Tool of Satan, Hollywood.

Interestingly, Baehr seems to have no objections to accepting money from those same Hollywood studios because his web pages contain more movie ads than coherent opinions. I think that Baehr’s motives are purely sectarian, since the banner on his web page clearly states that:

Movieguide�© is a ministry dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles, by influencing entertainment industry executives and helping families make wise media choices [Emphasis added].

As the “founding father or modern satire,” Jonathan Swift, remarked in his Preface to The Battle of the Books:

Satyr is a sort of Glass, wherein Beholders do generall discover every body’s Face but their Own; which is the chief Reason for that kind of Reception it meets in the World, and that so very few are offended with it.

I think Baehr and his ilk have no idea what Swift was talking about.

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