(CCU Student) Recently, I was able to attend the first public showing of “I Am”, a documentary film directed, conceived and funded by Tom Shadyac. Mr. Shadyac was able to fund his film through his enormous success in directing blockbuster comedies such as; “Ace Ventura”, “The Nutty Professor” and “Bruce Almighty”. The screening was shown at Denver University (free to all Colorado students) complete with a Q/A session with Tom Shadyac himself.
What made a successful director choose such different and dangerous production? After a serious concussion, leading to severe bouts of depression and detachment, Tom Shadyac has decided to pursue a different type of film. “I Am” is attempting to answer two questions, “What is wrong with our world? What can we do to fix it?” In solving these mysteries Shadyac employs the wisdom of scientists, academics and historians. The result is a documentary spliced with beautiful scenery, inspiring scientific research, apolitical & political arguments and quotes of Jesus Christ and Gandhi lumped together.
The danger of this film comes from the base concept which Shadyac subscribes to… ‘We are perfectible; if every person just gets on board with an idea we can end humanities struggles and pains.’ As a Christian this concept is very dangerous. I understand that we are fallen beings. We are destined to fail. But does this mean any attempt to improve the world is to be rejected? No. We are to do the best that we can on this earth with the understanding that any good we do, of our own creation, is not impermeable. The only lasting deeds are those that are of Christ.
What I fear of Shadyac’s mantra is that it more proficiently steers people away from Christ’s redemption than calls to immorality and depravity. “I Am” and it’s ideologies fit perfectly in our world. If one were to full heartedly subscribe to Shadyac’s progressive call to action, one will never be discouraged by the continued imperfections of the world do to sin, rather one will blame them on the fact that not everyone “gets it” as they do.
Now to be fair, Shadyac is very sober and has a greater understanding of the world than much of his future audience, who will undoubtedly embrace his movie as the new ultimate blueprint for humanity. Shadyac is very introspective, and his movement does focus on individual deeds, resistant of government intervention. However, having gone to the screening, I was able to witness how quickly the audience at Denver University brushed over that point and persisted in asking how they could start getting everyone else to do this, and how to change everyone else, not for a moment assessing their own righteousness.
The company Shadyac employs in his pursuit of a perfect world is also worth noting. Noam Chomsky, a true source of wisdom in this film; a man who claimed that Communist leader Mao did not really mean to kill any of the 76+ million Chinese that died under his reign.(Rummel) Shadyac also turns to Howard Zinn, a documented communist. Zinn, despite being widely discredited and having stated in his celebrated book that,
“if you have any kind of a social aim, if you think history should serve society in some way; should serve the progress of the human race; should serve justice in some way, then it requires that you make your selection on the basis of what you think will advance causes of humanity”
Howard Zinn is shown in this movie as a Historian who knows best. Shadyac rounds off his ‘unbiased’ political perspective with the liberal/progressive talk show host, Thom Hartmann.
The world is not what God intended for it to be. Instead of a place for Him to walk with man, sin has corrupted all of the earth. To ignore the inherent nature of our sin and envision a utopian way of human existence void of God is quite reckless. An attempt to create a “heaven on earth” by ignoring our nature of sin is a clear subtraction from the glory and salvation that we all need so desperately. “I Am” makes a nearly convincing proposal for actually obtaining that utopia. That is what makes this film the most dangerous fill of the year.
** Zinn, A People's History of the United States, p. 646
** Rummel, R.J. "DEATH BY GOVERNMENT: GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER." University of Hawaii. 1994. Web. 09 Feb. 2011. <http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM>