The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (12)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (11)
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Really a well-made dispatch from a long war.
Thurman presents a largely even-handed recounting, wisely letting folks - and events - speak for themselves.
Of all the scary movies you may see this month, none will be more chilling than Scott Thurman's documentary about the Texas State Board of Education.
An alarming, hilarious documentary ...
Such a feature-length bludgeoning, even in the service of basic social and scientific literacy, is truly discomfiting.
Offers a balanced view of the fight over science and U.S. history standards for Texas schools, but lacks the punch it might have achieved with a stronger point of view.
Scott Thurman's new film The Revisionaries is a postcard from the frontline of America's culture wars.
Due to redistricting, every position on the Texas State Board of Education is up for election on the November 2012 ballot. See The Revisionaries and become better informed about the subject, and then remember to cast your vote.
Scott Thurman captures not only the fear and anti-intellectual resentment and insecurity that govern the dictations of the far right, but also the rampant unchecked egotism.
At once an unsettling documentary and an enlightening one.
This doc's look at the avid Texas State Board of Education (led by a smalltown dentist), invested in rewriting school textbooks in order to push ultra-right wing agendas, is a disturbing must-see.
This frontline skirmish in the culture wars [over school textbooks] is the subject of Scott Thurman's engrossing documentary ... It's a symbolic fight of our times, making [the film] a compelling and involving work.
I don't think this is going to be so much a review as much as it is a rant on the manipulation of the Texas Board of Education to make textbooks feel more in-line with their personal religious beliefs. There's a moment in the film where Cynthia Dunbar says why should they put something in textbooks if it disagrees with what the majority of Americans believe. And this, of course, is absolute insanity. You can't say that because the majority of Americans are Christians that then the textbooks that public schools buy should reflect those beliefs. It is unacceptable that people can so openly make decisions that affect the education of MILLIONS of kids, ages 5-18, based on the fact that their religion isn't reflected in the books' teachings. That's why there's such a thing called Sunday school, where you can teach kids all you want about the ark and how dinosaurs were on the ark, a ridiculous notion. Nobody can come in and tell you what you teach your kids in bible class, even if I sometimes wish that scientists would protest the nonsense they teach these kids at these Sunday schools. So don't use your religion to negatively affect what kids in public school learn. At first I thought this would affect science textbooks and the theory of evolution, even though it's fact and not even a theory, but it also ends up affecting social studies classes. The big offender here is Cynthia Dunbar putting forward an amendment that completely REMOVES Thomas Jefferson from history textbooks and replaces him with John Calvin, a Christian theologian. The reason for justifying this, and pardon the word, retarded amendment is that, as Cynthia Dunbar puts it, Jefferson got his theological ideas from Calvin so therefore that, somehow, makes him more important, historically, than Thomas Jefferson, ie: one of the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence. One of the founding fathers. While I think that the founding fathers are sometimes put on a gigantic pedestal as one of the greatest men who ever lived, this notion that Calvin was more important in the history of the United States of America than one of the men who helped WRITE the Declaration of Independence is absolutely fucking insulting. It's an example of the Board FORCING their religion into what kids learn and that is simply bullshit. There are scenes of these elected officials openly PRAYING in the office where they're about to decide the future of millions of kids. Religion should simply be kept out of politics and most importantly education, without exception. And the funny thing is when someone even BRINGS up the subject of separation of Church and State, Dunbar goes on a fucking hissy fit and refusing to vote on the amendment put forward, which lost handily. And then there's Don McLeroy, the single most idiotic man in the film, as if Dunbar wasn't a handful already. This guy comes across as an uneducated and uninformed bumbling fool. He really does, there are sometimes where you can see the guy is simply way over his head. There's one scene where he's trying to make a case against the science experts where he doesn't even put together ONE coherent sentence. And THIS was a guy that was a former chairman of the Board of Education, deciding what millions of kids learned. That's a fucking scary thought. I always find arrogant and idiotic when these creationists think they know more than the scientists who have studied, tested, hypothesized and come to a consensus on a subject. Why would we elect officials to office to decide what kids should or should not learn about science when they don't even understand anything about it? What information do these creationists have, that can be scientifically studied, to trump what the experts say? The Bible? I find it insulting that these people like McLeroy thinks that he's so smart that he knows better than the people who studied this despite having no background in science. Again, these are people making decisions on what your kids learn in school. This is unacceptable. There's also a scene where McLeroy, teaching kids in a Sunday class, tries to make the case that America was, and was always intended to be, a Christian nation. Are you ready for this? McLeroy thinks that because there is similar wording between the Declaration of Independence and the Bible that that must mean that the founding fathers meant for this to be a christian nation with christian ideals. He really said this. No one this dumb should be allowed even 2 miles within a school. It was embarrassing to the point that I really felt bad for the kids in his class. There's also another scene in the film where Cynthia Dunbar is OPENLY PRAYING to the Lord that he should invade every aspect of our lives, INCLUDING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. This really happened. This REALLY happened. Don't get me wrong, you can have your religious beliefs, but keep that shit out of politics and even more so, out of education. This is the future of the country and you're depriving them of a chance to REALLY learn something by forcing your religion in their textbooks. And the even more sad thing about this is that these books with these idiotic amendments on evolution and social studies CANNOT be fixed until 2020 when the textbooks are up for review again. That means for SEVEN more years, kids in Texas will have textbooks that refuse to give them the TRUTH and would rather they just become indoctrinated religious fanatics. I hope to GOD, pun intended, that when these kids go to college and universities that they actually learn something about real science and REAL history. Anyway, I believe I have ranted long enough. As you can tell, at least if you believe in evolution and keeping religion out of education, this will be an infuriating watch. But it is also eye-opening and hopefully the film reaches enough eyes to where in 2020 there is more awareness towards this issue and positive changes are made. You could say the film is "biased" but they show Cynthia Dunbar and Don McLeroy's point of view too, the film lets them dig their own grave without much help from the editors. Highly recommended viewing, even if it's an infuriating watch.
One of the few time when a one-sided perspective was warranted. The constant need we have as a society to always be arguing between ignorance and basic facts is beyond my comprehension.
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