The Invention of Lying: A Review

The gist of this movie is that the greatest lie ever told to man is the existence of God. The fictional movie also exists in a world where everyone always tells the truth, no matter how bold or harsh. No one, in this movie, even knows what a lie is–hence the name of the movie. The Gervais’ character discovers the idea of lying in another scene, and he realizes that it makes life much easier for him in some ways. In another scene, his mother is dying, and she is fearful and desperate. She believes that she will face an eternity of nothingness following her death. In a desperate attempt to soothe her, Gervais’ character invents a place of mansions and happiness (heaven). The doctor and nurses overhear this, and they are intrigued. Word gets out that Gervais’ character has received information about an after-life. He is pursued for this information, and he invents a man in the sky (God). The people are irrationally soothed by Gervais’ character’s ideas. There are no counterpoints to Gervais’ character’s claims in the movie, and there is no counterpoint of enlightenment. The character merely claims at the end that he invented the whole thing.

I feel it’s my duty to inform you that this is not a chick flick, and it’s average. It is not as good as Gervais’ other movie Ghost Town, and it’s not as good as his shows Extras and The Office. The aspect about the ‘lie of God’s existence’ is not listed on the back jacket of the movie, and it’s not in any of the promos I saw. It caught me off guard. Now that you know, feel free to rent, buy, or download if this is your thing.

As to the counterpoint, it would’ve been nice to see some commentary about the other side. Example: While some believe in the existence of a man in the sky, others believe the sky is falling (i.e. Global Warming). While some believe that a bum on the streets is always a victim of circumstance, others believe most of them are there as a result of some form of self-indulgence. While some believe in the mythical assistance men in the leadership roles of government can provide to humanity, others believe that the key to success and happiness in life is through self-sufficiency.

It may have been difficult to fit such counterpoints into the plot, without being too preachy, but the writers of this movie could’ve done it.  They wouldn’t have had to devote huge chunks of dialogue to it, or numerous exchanges, to satisfy the other side.  They could’ve had one scene, or one simple piece of dialogue that questioned the other side.   They could’ve said something along the lines of “a man in Washington spear-headed a movement to attempt to curtail human indulgence, so he got together with his other buddies, and they invented something called Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption.”  They could’ve written that this attempt to shame human indulgence is equivalent to the definitions employed by individuals of Biblical times that believed that indulging in pursuits that God didn’t approve of, would result in a damaged harvest for the year.  They could’ve written some form of dialogue that suggested that shaming people into acting a particular way is as endemic to the human being as indulging is, and in this particular case (in the movie) the man in Washington was so upset by his unsuccessful bid to become president that he decided that he needed a legacy, so he latched onto an idea that stated that our Capitalism-run-amok form of   indulgence is causing a catastrophe of epic proportions.  They could’ve then concluded that this man’s legacy is now one of self-indulgence based on attempting to curtail indulgence, until he built an ostentatious, and indulgent home, and lavished in the riches his principled stand afforded him, until, like King Midas, everything he touched turned into gold, and his vain sermons on self-indulgence become a method to feed his own need for further indulgences.

This writers of this movie could’ve then had the people of the world irrationally worship the man in Washington, until a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him, and the writers could’ve had this man avoid any dissent and debate with some wild declaration along the lines of “all the science is in.  This catastrophe is happening.”  The writers could’ve had irrational exuberance occurring on both sides, but I’m sure they didn’t want to offend anyone.

Intelligent Minds Disagree

It’s very difficult for those of us who are intelligent to believe that intelligent people may disagree. Or, if they are intelligent they are the exception to the rule rather than a realization that we made need to re-categorize our rules.

We enjoy listening and watching people who share our opinion on matters. We enjoy hearing “our” people characterize “those” people of the other side, because it makes us feel better about the side we have chosen.

A friend of mine chose the open-minded side.  This wasn’t 100% clear to me, until I made the accusation that she wasn’t open-minded to my point of view in an Instant Message (IM) discussion we were having.  This brought out exclamation points and all caps from her end of the IM discussion.  This brought forth so many IMs in such rapid-fire succession that I was forced to face the fact that she could type three times faster than I could.  The gist of these IMs was that because she had chosen the open-minded side, she had immunity from being called “close-minded”, and that she could reject any and all discussions I had without further discussion.

“Your side is the side of closed-minded side,” was another take from her IMs.  She then listed off a number of people from “my side” that she considered closed-minded. I never told her what “my side” was. She may have gathered it from a number of our conversations, but the point was that because my IMs were inherently influenced by a close-minded side, my IMs were inherently incorrect.

We all walk around with the notion that we’re open-minded and objective, and if you have any doubts about this.  Just ask us.  We’ll tell you that we’re objective and open-minded.

Some of us never take the time to consider the other side, because we don’t need to, because someone once told us what “those people” believe.  Someone once characterized the other side for us in a manner we deemed acceptable, and we went with that.  This idea assisted us in choosing sides, because we all want to be open-minded.

Isn’t it all about character definition for us these days?  We don’t have the time to dissect an issue in the manner that highbrow theoreticians do, so we rely on those in the know to assist us in determining who is right and who is wrong.  The question becomes who do we choose?  Well, we hate to choose, because we hate to be led, but we do make choices.

We normally choose the people who are good looking, because movies and shows have conditioned us to believe that good looking people are right and the ugly people are evil.  There have been psychological studies that prove that good looking people have an easier time swaying the people.  We’re also, of course, swayed by charm and a decent sense of humor.

Having said all that, most people are so convinced that they are right that they cannot believe that an intelligent, well-informed individual can disagree with them.  The person who disagrees with them is either a Neanderthal or close-minded or stupid, or all of the above.  “Don’t you know the latest stats,” they will ask, “don’t you know the latest facts on a given issue?” When they are informed that stats are given to interpretation, and some facts can include half-truths and exaggerations. They’ve been told, by their moderators, commentators, and talking heads that certain truths are truths and that only a neophyte could disagree.  They believe the depictions and character assessments given to those they disagree, and they cannot believe that there is another side.