A well-known theoretical physicist and atheist has claimed that Hollywood is biased against his fellow non-believers, as evidenced by the way it treated him and his fellow filmmakers while he was trying to seek support for his documentary.
Lawrence Krauss, said that he learned of the alleged "hostility" while he was working on a "The Unbelievers," a documentary showcasing himself and fellow atheist Richard Dawkins sharing their anti-religious convictions around the world.
In a year where no less than four films re-telling Bible stories will hit theaters, Krauss said there was a double standard between the attention these films received and the support offered to his documentary, which he claimed had been very well-received in initial screenings.
"Now, it would be silly to suggest that a documentary about two scientists debating religion and rationality might pose strong competition to a hundred-and-thirty-million-dollar blockbuster starring Russell Crowe as Noah on the ark," wrote Krauss in The New Yorker last week. "But that recognition notwithstanding, we were assured in advance by people in the film industry that a movie about atheism—even one that featured various celebrities—would not be suitable for a general theatrical release, in spite of more than four hundred thousand people downloading the film's trailer, and a poll of test audiences which suggested that more than ninety per cent of religious individuals who saw the film would recommend it to a friend."
Krauss said that while he does not "fault Hollywood for recognizing that religion, like violence, is often profitable at the box office," he argues that the film industry has helped keep atheism stigmatized.
"This logic leads to a prevailing bias that reinforces a pervasive cultural tilt against unbelief and further embeds religious myths in the popular consciousness. It marginalizes those who would ridicule these myths in the same manner as we ridicule other aspects of our culture, from politics to sex," Krauss continued.
Referencing a recent study carried out by Canadian and American psychologists that showed that atheists were "the least trusted of all listed categories aside from rapists," Krauss claimed that society as a whole tended to esteem religious individuals and had often "equated questioning the existence of God with being a bad person."
Krauss also dismissed Christian claims that Hollywood frequently caricatured or misrepresented their faith, adding that "whatever one might hear on the right about a war on religion, in this country we still care more about catering to religious sensibilities, even in liberal Hollywood, than we do about encouraging the open questioning of the claims of the faithful."
This year has been dubbed "The Year of the Bible" by some, with "Son of God" being released late last month, and Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" opening at the end of March. Later this year, "Exodus" and "Mary, Mother of Christ" will also hit theaters.