I have seen the film Bruce Almighty, where I enjoyed the comical antics of Jim Carrey, one of my favourite actors. But at the same time,I appreciate the moral message behind the story.
In spite of the beneficial moral lessons on divinity, with a story that has an actor, a mere mortal man, portraying God who interacted with another mortals, it was of course bound to be controversial in conservative circles, and not just in Malaysia.
Indeed four years ago, dear Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin, former Minister in the PM’s Department, called for the film to be banned because it was against Islamic beliefs.
But now, we have Evan Almighty as its sequel. The trailer of the US$175mil (RM600mil) movie features Morgan Freeman again as God, surely an American touch of political correctness to have an African American play his Almighty. But they somehow missed covering the other aspect of Western political correctness at the same time in not having, say, Oprah Winfrey instead.
This time ‘God’ will be asking Evan Baxter, a New Yorker (has to be an American, what do you expect?), to build an ark to prevent the big flood that was to hit New York. Baxter is played by Steve Carell who also starred in a supporting role in the earlier movie.
Predictably, the secretary-general of the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia, Maamor Osman, asked for Evan Almighty to be banned because he considered it as an insult to Islam. It’s a comedy so of course it’s scripted to be funny, but Maamor alleged the film pokes fun at God and the Prophet Noah.
As they say, one man’s humour is another’s bellyache. But surely one's faith must be strong enough to tolerate a bit of laughter. After all, aren't we creations of God? If we like to laugh at humour, surely that's God's will, and who is Maamor to speak against HIS will.
Fortunately the Government has allowed its screening after various government officials including those from the Islamic Development Department and Film Censorship Board had viewed and assessed the movie as OK.
Dr Rais Yatim, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage, advised parties calling for a ban on a movie on religious grounds to first view it. And it should be only after they have seen the movie and identified those aspects of the film which are against the tenets of the religion, before they may forward their views to the Film Censorship Board.
Hey, sounds like sensible advice. Indeed, how could one ask for a movie to be banned without viewing it first and knowing what it’s about, unless of course one is either totally intolerable or ........ hmmm, is it true that the general election is just around the corner?
Having said that, I recall a locally produced but banned documentary, The Last Communist, was severely condemned by the Berita Harian when no one in that newspaper had even seen the documentary. Beat that for Boleh-ness ;-)
And equally outrageous, no one interviewed by Berita Harian, namely those politicians, film makers and academics, who jumped on the bandwagon of bullsh*t intolerance to lambast the documentary, had seen it either. Unbeatable Boleh-ness!
As Amir Muhammad, the producer of the documentary, had alleged, the Berita Harian initiated criticisms plus those of the interviewed Zaitochi's, brought about the moronic banning of The Last Communist by the Home Affairs Ministry.
At last, with Evan Almighty, some long overdue commonsense by the authority has prevailed.
(1) Why isn't 'Last Communist' a Malay?
(2) The Last Communist or Communalist?
(3) Tremble - Last Communist Cometh!