"I don't watch movies to get some of that sweet confirmation bias. - Jon
"I didn't need an entire movie about McLeroy being wrong and having a very narrow of the world: that was clear early and often. - Bobby
"Everyone is pushing an agenda, including filmmaker Scott Thurman." - Phil
What a documentary.
This is one of my favorites and let me explain why and I will get to that but first the documentary itself. Scott Thurman has an agenda and it is to infuriate the country and embarrass Texas voters by showing how the State Board of Education (SBOE) has made education a political issue and shifted information to the right. He was successful on the former, not so much on the latter.
Viewers are exposed to some people who can be casted as “good” and “bad.” I like to put it as the “smart” and the “dumb” ones. We are introduced to Don McElroy at the film’s start as it shows his hearing as the Board’s Chair and then get to see how he is as a person. Quite frankly, McElroy is a great guy. I would love for him to be my neighbor, maybe even my dentist, but there is no way I vote for him. He is a right wing ideologue, who had an agenda while serving on the Board. His agenda, however, was not for the betterment of students, although it was disguised as such.
His views were better articulated by Cynthia Dunbar, or whom I like to call Cynthia “Dumbshit.” There is no question that she, like McElroy, is out to fight a culture war through education. She was trained by Pat Robertson at his institution of Regent University and views the world through a black and white lens. Her arguments are not valid, historical points, as they are Robertson’s perspective on science, history, economics, government, etc. Those characteristics are ever so present when she is featured.
We met their opponents Kathy Miller and Ron Wetherington when they discussed textbook adoption on scientific standards. Miller is a lobbyist for the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) and attempts to educate voters on the importance of this governmental body. Her attempts have been in vain but that keeps her fighting. She appears to be a down to earth person, whereas Wetherington can come off as a snob. There is, however, no doubt he is an expert in the field of anthropology. He represents the facts on science and can extensively argue history and politics.
My take on The Revisionaries is Thurman had some manipulation taking place. He does not do what Michael Moore does, which is fantastic. Moore presents his pieces as if he is writing a paper. He narrates and directs the viewer to see what he wants them to see. Thurman does not manipulate in that way. He presents what he sees as important and the viewer derives an opinion from that. For instance, Thurman presented Mary Helen Berlanger’s rightful fit on discrimination (throwing the books on the ground) with the impression that others were paying attention to what she said. Maybe there were, maybe there were not but Thurman does not care about that. Another example is when Ken Mercer says he wants to put “Hussein” between “Barack Obama.” It is a sliver of the presentation but viewers’ take from that, or at least they should, the question of “why?”
Thurman’s influence is a reason it lands in the “B” range. The positives are tremendous. We see how politicized the process was and can be, how voting matters, and all elections are important. I show this documentary in my Texas Government classes every semester and every time, a few students get upset. That is fantastic. I do not show them the film to make them angry, but there is context that I will conceal from you because it is boring education stuff but know I make no attempts indoctrinating students.
There are many tangents that can arise from this but I urge us to stay on topic. The ongoing debate of teaching religion or science in the classroom is hotly discussed, especially in Texas.
Having stated that, I strongly encourage people from all political sides to watch it. I welcome a good discussion on the film from everyone and hope this does the trick.