I wrote this blog over two years ago and there was a small firestorm surrounding my simple blog observation about the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed not having any bootlegs in the market:

There is an easy way to measure the success of any studio movie and that is by measuring how many bootleg copies there are out there on the street. You know think Jerry Seinfeld and they range in quality from pre-studio release copies to poor copies taken by Kramer wannabes. In comparison, copies of Iron Man have already hit the street. Now, before some reader goes off on a rant, let me set the record straight about bootlegs. I actually go to the movies or rent from Blockbuster on a weekly basis and if it’s a visually stunning movie. buy a legit copy for my own personal use. Why? I am a video and audiophile with a home theater and enjoy the sights and sounds of a good movie. Bootleg copies of movies are often of wildly varying quality and in almost all cases they don’t meet my exacting standards. Yes, I am one of those weirdos that play with different brands of HDMI cables.

With that said, I have to be honest with you there was no way I was going to spend $20 and give that money to the ICR, Institute of Creation Research, to watch Expelled. Plus, I would never subject my wife to an hour and half of this drivel, her time is too precious and she would kill me if I did. Moreover, I don’t go to the movies alone, its has been a couples ritual for me during the entirety of my life and I am certainly not changing my ways for Expelled and Ben Stein.

So I have been looking for a bootleg copy to watch to make my comments on this blog but guess what? There are no bootlegs, the street vendors don’t have any copies nor is it available online as a valid torrent. I even noticed that most of the major movie critics have kept away from reviewing this masterpiece as well (no, your pastor doesn’t count!).

Why? Supply and demand baby, nobody wants to see Ben Stein drone on about the horrors of Darwinism save a handful of religious fundamentalists and conservative gadflies. The rest of the silent majority is too busy trying to figure how we can afford to fill our cars with a tankful of gas, thank you Mr. George Bush. The gross to date, a month after the release of Expelled, is just shy of $7.5 M, not exactly Michael Moore territory for a documentary. So much for a Creationist’s revolution in the United States and things will not fare much better for this crowd with the fall presidential election. You can already hear the yawns!

Well in two years two events have transpired.  First, I finally sat or should I say laid down to watch this this Ben Stein snore fest and while there may not be any bootlegs there are some Expelled torrents are currently available at your local pirate sites. So, score one for Ben but I didn’t pay for the privlege of watching this propaganda! Not I didn’t illegally download the movie but I used my Netflix account.  By the way, accompanying the torrents is usually some acerbic exchanges between true believers but frankly overall the movie  was a flop in galvanizing the Christian fundamentalists in the scientific community; moreover, the Obama election was a big blow to their movement.

And my final review of the movie?  Well, I feel asleep twice while watching this mess.  It was boring and ponderous and the quick cuts to some vintage movie outtakes was tedious at best and not very amusing.  Also, the movie’s argument about academic ostracism has long since been discredited and if Intelligent Design proponents feel like pariahs that is more a function of their poor science and not necessarily directed at their individual religious beliefs. Irreducible complexity,  that is the idea that biological systems are too complex to evolve from simpler predecessors,  is a poor argument no matter how many times it gets trotted out.   Why?  Basic genetic work has shown how the switching on and off of given genes can have myriad effects on biological systems, some good and some bad.  Turning on retro features such as teeth in chick embryos is now doable and demonstrates s the basic elements of how genetics can drive evolution via natural selection.

Furthermore, Ben Stein’s argument that the Nazis used Darwinism as an excuse to kill Jews is a stupid, specious argument.  There is little in Hitler’s past indicates that he was a big Darwin fan but rather he was an ardent anti-Semite  that used his hatred as a rallying point among his German constituency. The Nazi concept of the master race had more to do with some pagan notions of Arayat supremacy that it had to do with either the natural selection of Darwinism or, for that matter, Christianity. One could easily argue that Christianity was more to blame for the Holocaust than science, but neither would be an accurate interpretation of what actually transpired in Nazi Germany.

In any case, this all seems so long ago and the movie’s failure to become an Intelligent Design rallying point combined with it’s pitiful $8 million in total revenue speaks volumes about the present state of the Creationist movement.  Today the focus is on jobs and not religious fundamentalism in the US unless your Muslim and insistent on building a mosque near the WTC site. That will be the subject of another blog and you maybe surprised by my take on the issue.


Erik John Bertel

Author of Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot

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