Ricky Gervais talks about ‘Invention of Lying’ atheist subplot
I haven’t put much effort on the podcast into hiding the fact that I thought The Invention of Lying was a bore of a flick despite a pretty amusing anti-religion side plot: one of the lies the main character tells is that everyone goes somewhere awesome after death, which then led to lies about God, rules, and all that jazz. Hilarity ensues (or so I thought it would).
I’ve heard many atheists enjoyed the movie off the strength of this part alone, so if you’re stuck on a weekend with nothing better to watch, go for it! For now though here’s part of an interview with the movie’s writer/producer/director/star and of course atheist scum Ricky Gervais talking about the religious backlash the movie received:
There’s a boldness and strength of idea underpinning The Invention Of Lying that you don’t seem to get in the vast majority of Hollywood comedies. Do you think that’s why the film struggled to find an audience in America?
Well, I think everything has to fight hard to get an audience in America.
I think the reason why critics and websites didn’t like it was obviously the religious element. I think some people felt cheated that they weren’t warned. But I don’t know what you do with that. Whether I should put a warning ‘contains atheist material’. I don’t know. Strange, really.
One reviewer said that ‘I don’t know why Ricky Gervais feels the need to shove his atheism down our throat’. I thought, woah, well this is one film that dares to presume the lack of God, whereas every other film I’ve ever seen presumes a God. There are door-to-door Bible salesmen. It’s taught in schools as fact. Children are indoctrinated with it from the age of four. And I’m the one shoving the ideas! Surely, we can have a discussion about it?
It seems a little bit unfair. And I don’t think it is atheist propaganda, in a world where no one has ever had the ability to lie, as an atheist, to suggest I believe that religion was started by man. And I put that in a film. I’d be a hypocrite to say anything else.
Did you sense that reaction was going to come?
I did. But I didn’t think that intelligent people would be so worried about it.
I tell you why I think that the film is actually more subversive than most other films. It’s because it was couched in quite a sweet Hollywood rom-com. It wasn’t a dark indie film that was a terrible existential damning sort of film. It was a really sweet, uplifting Hollywood rom-com. It just happened to be a film where there was no God.
I’d still put the main blame on unlikable characters and the underdevelopment of the ‘society where no one can lie’ concept. Plus I think the movie was buried by the studio as well, but who knows if that was because of the religious nose tweaking or because it was just kinda weak. But Gervais has some solid points: Who’s shoving what down who’s throat, exactly? And why are religious people so sensitive that a single movie with an atheistic aspect is considered so shove-tastic?