Sunday, June 24, 2012

"The Revisionaries" looks at the hold Texas has on textbook content

AFI Silverdocs hosted Scott Thurman’s “The Revisionaries” in AFI’s “Roundhouse” Saturday night, the background story over the Texas State Board of Education, which selects textbooks and has enormous influence on the behavior of textbook publishers and the content for kids all over the country.

The film concentrated on two major subject matter areas:  the “intelligent design” debate, and later the way American History presents the separation of church and state.

Early in the film, a young female high school biology teacher is explaining that lineage doesn’t imply direct ancestry.  You didn’t come from your uncle.  It seems like a play on words.

The film goes into biography mode, concentrating most on born-again Austin area dentist Don McLeroy (he looks just like Dr. Phil).  McLeroy teaches Sunday School and does exercises with the kids demonstrating how many animal pairs could fit into an ark-sized ship.  He proselytizes to his patients.  And he reruns for chairman of the Texas State Board.

There are some scenes in the board debates, and an opening scene where McLeroy is grilled about his views in the State Capitol in Austin.

My own feeling is that “intelligent design” is entirely consistent with modern physics and cosmology (as Stephen Hawking explains it).  By the anthropic principle, we live in our own Universe with the particular constants of physics that make life and our own consciousness and free will possible.  I can’t buy the idea that the World was created literally in seven days 4500 years ago.

Also appearing in the film is a female law professor from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, who has consulted for the Board, and a male anthropology professor from SMU in Dallas, the latter of whom appeared with McLeroy in the Q&A.

The film played in Tribeca, Boston, and Seattle film festivals.

The production company  is Naked Edge Films.  The link is here.

Today’s short film, on YouTube (not in festival): “Wax My Chest: Hang with Shane: Day 121”.   (That’s the artist’s name, “Shane” [as in “Judas Kiss” – the same kind of person), not “shame”.) A very attractive male artist is in your face preparing, with a girl friend, for the release of his iTunes hit “The Vacation Song”.  He keeps you in suspense for eleven minutes to see if he will survive his dare.   Here's the link, which YouTube flashed to me (because of tracking cookies) when I went to the site this morning to post this review.  Is Shane from Texas, too?  Maybe. 

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