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Archive for Ricky Gervais

Lying…

On a recent day off, Ali and I decided to go and see Ricky Gervais’ latest cinematic offering, ‘The Invention of Lying’.  Oh dear.  I cant lie to you……..whilst it had it’s moments (amusing & poignant), it was generally low quality viewing.

For fans of Gervais’ wry humour (famously the Office & Extras), it certainly had the cleverness of wit and observational comedy throughout, but the plot line was pretty weak.  As one critic puts it, ‘the film deserves high marks for cleverness, but low ones for humanity and warmth’.  And that is about right.

But more interestingly for me, as a Christian I was challenged on all sorts of levels.  Some of the content was unnecessarily crass (as is quite a lot of Gervais’ humour!), and this guts me because he doesnt need to be.

A few years ago, the standup comedian Frank Skinner decided to do all his shows without one blasphemas utterance or profanity, and was acclaimed for it!  I dont want to come across as a freakish ascetic but some of it is really not necessary.  I’m often stunned at the certificates awarded by the BBFC, and for this to be a 12A did surprise me a bit (or did it?  Uh oh, I’m sounding old!).

But the moments of offence were counteracted by some observationally funny ones, and I found myself laughing out loud in the darkened room (cinema).  However, the power of the film (of what there is of it) comes from staring plain in the face the desperation and futility of the human condition without God.  But of course, I’m observing it from my gospel world-view, seeing how Jesus and the cross are the remedy for all these failings.

The premise of the film is this.  Nobody tells lies – everyone must tell the truth.  One day, Mark (the Gervais character), tells a lie and finds that he is believed without question!  It becomes an incredible power which he uses to his personal gain.

But things come to a head when he visits his mother on her deathbed and, in an attempt to console her fears of passing on into a void of eternal nothingness, he tells her of the beautiful afterlife awaiting her that he claims to have been told of by an otherworldly presence that he refers to as ‘the Man in the Sky’.  However, word of his story gets out and suddenly the entire world is eagerly lapping up his every utterance, even the seemingly contradictory ones, about the afterlife, morality and why the person responsible for such much happiness in the next world can also be responsible for so much misery in this one.

Mark (Ricky) lies to his dying mum

Mark (Ricky) lies to his dying mum

Most folks understanding of Christianity in our culture, is a misunderstanding.   And Gervais’ understanding of gospel truth is certainly that.  He has a terrific grasp of worthless religion though, and his swipe at it (having initially made my blood boil) is spot on.  What a terrible existence it must be, to feel you must earn points with creator God and be tossed into hell for not performing to the standards of ‘the Man in the Sky’ (as He is dubbed in the film).

Funny that.  A film about lying, and there is Gervais perpetuating the big lie that we must earn favour with God to have any hope of ‘a mansion in heaven’.

I discovered that Gervais studied philosophy as a younger man, and is a fierce atheist.  He is actually an Honorary Associate of the Secular Society.  He self-confesses his atheism in a ‘5 mins with…’ interview which you can watch here, and of course it’s his blatant swipe at religion that makes this film interesting if you hold a gospel world-view.

My conclusion?  Possibly worth seeing on DVD, but dont rush to rent it.  But thanks are due…….

Thanks God that I’m free from the chains of religion.  Thanks Ricky for reminding me.  Thanks Jesus for pleasing ‘the Man in the Sky’ for me….