Discussion on ‘The Constant Gardner’

10:32 am | Movies

On Tuesday evening, I went with a few friends to see “The Constant Gardner” at a local theater’s Fifty-Cent Tuesday Night. Although the story was interesting at a superficial level, it reminded me of a continuing trend among filmmakers to focus on the problems of the African continent

First, plagiarism and falsification of stories. Supposedly, the intrepid journalist on the field or aid worker has no reason to skew, make up, plagiarize, or falsify information. But this is not the case - human depravity is pervasive, and this has been a growing and serious problem in both standard journalism as well as in scientific publications. In fact, Bill Alnor (whose name you will recognize for his work with SCP) is part of this new peer-review journal dedicated to exposing these kinds of problems:


Peer review processes, although meant to help avert problems, often fail to detect plagiarism and reporting of falsified or skewed data and analysis. The most well known current instance is stem-cell researcher Hwang Woo Suk, who falsified mountains of “research” and is now under investigation for this and appropriations of his grant money. Should we really expect a journalist or aid worker to be more immune to the temptation to report false information then the academic researcher? Particularly when their reporting goes through channels where their reports are not fact checked?

Second, many of these aid workers have moral frameworks that run not merely in opposition but entirely contrary to Christianity. Consider views of domestic violence that are strongly feminist - for instance the view that all acts of sex, even within a marriage relationship, are rape of a woman. Similarly, the push for easy divorce and access to abortive techniques. Why, I wonder, do people stop at abortion and not consider all infanticide a real option? Traditional marriage and family are derided as “patriarchical” and oppressive as women, cultural elements that must be changed. On the other extreme however, when males have multiple sexual partners, this is argued to be merely part of their culture, impervious to change, and morally wrong to attempt to change. The behavior isn’t wrong because it’s just part of their culture, it’s those foolish westerners who want to change it. Who are we to impose our own misguided sexual mores on another culture, anyhow? By implication, contraceptives are widely available in the name of “AIDS prevention”, even though the point of a contraceptive is to prevent pregnancy, not prevent the spread of disease. Clinics have contraceptives by the truckload donated by the west, but can’t even give a young child with a fever and aspirin because there is none to have. Homosexuality has to be promoted as a safe lifestyle, in spite of the real dangers of it, its destructive impact upon societies, and more importantly the amount of self-deception it brings on the practitioners. We cannot even consider the possibility that a homosexual person would rape a woman - if you noticed. And finally, there is euthanasia. People in pain or at the end of their life deserve to die, and people whose quality of lives will be poor (read: people who we find inconvenient or uncomfortable) can be “mercifully” murdered.

All of this runs contrary to the gospel. It is part of a powerful spiritual deception designed to destroy humanity. These moral views are often packed so deeply into people’s minds that anyone who opposes them in any way is shortsighted, stupid, ignorant, a fundamentalist, or actually evil. They are so ensconced with the culture of death and the emotional conviction that they have the moral high ground against the unthinking masses that they are blind to the moral bankruptcy of their worldview and are unable examine their own presuppositions dispassionately. These would-be moral reformers become so convinced of their own righteousness, that when they believe that the ends justify the means (having no moral compass to show them the hypocrisy and sinfulness of borrowing from utilitarianism), they will do all manner of evil to achieve good ends. For all their good intentions, they do great evil, and exacerbate the problems faced by the culture. When they fail, it only gives them determination to work harder, providing another psychological feedback mechanism convincing themselves of their own selfless righteousness. Is AIDS a problem? Give them more contraceptives. Start courses teaching safe sex. Educate villages. Meanwhile, the epidemic grows worse than ever, validating their worst fears and giving them reason to redouble their efforts. The good ends are never realized because their utopian dreams - even modest ones - are undermined by the very means they exploit.

Third, you’ll notice that absent from movies like the Interpreter etc, the Christian church and its impact in Africa is non-existent. It isn’t reported at all - as if African nations have only tribal components and secular/modern components to their societies. The impact of Christianity in general and of the African Independent Churches in particular is so enormous that to produce an account devoid of their influence is a mistake brought about by provincialism and inadequate background research. Filmmakers are out to make drama, after all, not necessarily report facts. The filmmaker has ultimate control over what ‘facts’ are admitted to the film, and upon how those facts are to be interpreted. So, selection bias and cherry-picking of what to show an audience is not only rampant, but considered standard practice and isn’t frowned upon. Filmmaking is about “art” we are told - apparently it isn’t about honestly presenting truth. Even a film like the one we watched last night has the problem that it gives people a skewed perspective on the problems in Africa, much like how the Da Vinci Code gives people the view that Christianity is weak and unsustainable simply because the “facts” presented were cherry-picked to lead audiences to a particular conclusion. It’s an under-the-radar
kind of programming that takes place, a modern variant of propaganda, and something that only those who know and love the Truth have the capacity to recognize and rebut. The plot receives people’s attention; any facts can by presented and swallowed whole by the audience willing to go along with the story line, who are not thinking critically about what they are being spoon fed, and who are in no position to do fact-checking.




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