"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing."
— Poe’s Law
His one credential is Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. That’s it. That’s his only accomplishment to credential himself as an "expert" in film. Otherwise, he’s just a wind-bag writing about what he thinks about movies. A hack. A failed screenwriter who gets paid to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like.
He’s an old white man who doesn’t get it anymore. And here’s more proof.
Ebert wrote an essay in his blog about Creationism. It caught everyone off guard. What the hell is Ebert doing writing about Creationism? Some suspected it was satire. I wasn’t so convinced. I’ve seen smart people say stupider things (myself included). My buddy Jared told me it was a joke. Problem was, I didn’t see the punchline. The text read straight. It was exactly what you’d expect from a Creationist. Some even suspected that his site had been hacked.
Well, as it turns out, Ebert now acknowledges that he wrote his essay to prove a point: that we’re all illiterate bums who don’t understand satire.
I’m not offended by Ebert’s intention. I’m laughing. I’m laughing because he has such a sad misunderstanding of the very words he uses. He invokes Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal as an example. He says that we can no longer see the "invisible quotation marks." That we’ve moved beyond the age of existentialism into the age of irony.
The problem is, Roger Ebert is no Jonathan Swift. And, Roger, if you make the quotation marks invisible, you can’t expect anyone but yourself to see them.
Swift started with a reasonable problem and ended with a completely absurd solution. None of Swift’s contemporaries had made such a suggestion, therefore, Swift’s assertion that cannibalism was a real solution to a real problem came across as completely absurd.
The problem with Ebert’s assertion–that the world is 6,000 years old; Noah and his ark were real; etc.–is that otherwise reasonable, intelligent people are saying the exact same thing. There’s nothing absurd about an intelligent person making such statements.
By his own standards, we should view Ben Stein’s Expelled as satire. We have a preconceived notion of who Ben Stien is. He had a game show. He hung out with Jimmy Kimmel. He was Farris Bueler’s economics teacher. He was an advisor to a President. Surely, he isn’t gullible enough to believe in Bronze Age myths, right? Right?
Sadly, our preconceived notions were dashed right quick. The response to Expelled was one of complete surprise. Most serious folks wondered if Stein had lost his mind. What happened? A reasonable, intelligent man putting stock in claims that not only have no evidence, but have negative evidence. What happened?
My response to Roger Ebert’s article was exactly the same. Why is a reasonable, intelligent human being (whom I disagree with on almost everything) suddenly believing in fairie tales?
I mean, I know he gave Fight Club a thumb’s down. I know he gave mediocre Disney movies consistent thumbs up (when Disney was singing his paycheck). I know he doesn’t get it anymore… but that’s no excuse to think the world once contained a talking snake with interest in sabotaging God’s plan.
But, hey, if it can happen to Ben Stein, it can happen to Roger Ebert.
The problem with Ebert’s plan was: it made sense. There was no sense of irony. There was no sense of satire. It made perfect sense in the context of the world around us. He was a reasonable person suggesting something completely unreasonable… but it was an unreasonable suggestion that millions of Americans are also making all across the country. Nobody in Ireland was suggesting cannibalism when Swift did. That’s why Swift is satire and Ebert is sad.