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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

‘Knowing’ versus ‘Left Behind,’ Part I

It’s the little things, really, that make this job so satisfying. Who’d have thunk that when I made reference to, in my review of Knowing, “the nitwits who wrote those preposterous Left Behind apocalyptic end-times fantasies,” that it would provoke such outrage?

Okay, perhaps I should have known what I was in for.

Reader “Todd” was the first to respond by email:

You say in your Bio that you are a, “writer and a ponderer.” I wonder, if indeed you have accurately assessed yourself, why you would call the Left Behind authors “nitwits”. Now I admit that they interpret Biblical prophecy differently than some but their interpretation is generally considered one of the plausible and doctrinally orthodox possibilities. To simply dismiss them leads me to believe that your someone who generally dismisses the Bible ad hoc. Now, you can do that if you wish but does it belong in a movie review? Also, I believe that if you are who you believe yourself to be then honestly studying the Bible should be intellectually satisfying to anyone who is a writer and ponderer in New York City who drinks too much wine and thinks way too much about such inconsequences as movies, TV, books, and the meaning of life.

See, it’s not that Left Behind is total tripe aimed at taking money from the pockets of gullible fools, it’s that the authors merely interpret biblical prophecy differently than others. (Ooops, should I not have said “gullible fools”?) It’s too extreme for me to call them nitwits when plenty of other people have very similar ideas about 144,000 people being snatched away to heaven while the rest of us burn, and those ideas aren’t preposterous at all.

I adore Todd’s astonishment that I might be someone who generally dismisses the Bible ad hoc — who could possibly do that?

“Suzanne” wrote:

Curious… Was your comment about the “Left Behind” series as “preposterous” simply because it was imaginative and considered sci-fi, or because a person who believed the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and Buckeroo Banzai” have a more credible story line because they don’t include God.
Really, I wonder about a critic who is so narrow minded.

Um, isn’t God a pretty major character, behind the scenes, at least, in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Of course, everyone acknowledges that movie as fiction — Steven Spielberg does not presuppose that you actually believe, for honest real in real life outside the movie theater, that the Big Guy Upstairs smoked some Nazis on an island when an ancient artifact was opened.

And there’s “thatguy,” who was brave enough to post his response in comments:

how can you say thats a fantasy? You have no clue wether or not that WILL happen in the future. There are many things happening NOW that will prove Revelations propechies.

So cute.

As for the preposterousness of Left Behind, I refer you to slacktivist, who has been ripping to hilarious shreds the misogyny, antihumanism, mean-spiritedness, utter ridiculousness, and general lack of storytelling talent of authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

UPDATE: Another one, from “Tim”:

Do you realize how incredibly haughty that sounds?

That’s what bugs me most about movie critics. It’s your pseudo-intellectualism, arrogance, and a false sense of importance in society.


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