This is an interesting documentary on free speech, and a few other things around that topic, all of which are fascinating. I’m guessing it won’t be interesting to people on the far, far left…that hear the name Dennis Prager and freak out. For example, my wife, who politically speaking, is on the same side as both Prager and Carolla yet…something about this bothered her. She doesn’t like listening to them pontificate. Even when we’re in the car, if I have ANY talk radio on, she cringes and asks me to change the station (she’s only happy hearing Bruce Springsteen on the roads). She just doesn’t like confrontation of any kind, whereas I welcome it, if it’s educating people (it’s just unfortunate that the people you’re trying to explain things to, often don’t want to listen, as this film shows).
You may not like what people say, but they have the right to say it. And when college campuses are getting destroyed and teachers are losing their jobs, or conservative speakers aren’t allowed to speak…for reasons that will blow your mind after you watch this…you’ll realize why freedom of speech is so important. You don’t just kowtow to people that might have a different opinion than you.
Now, I think the filmmakers didn’t do themselves any favors by having right-wingers like Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, and Ben Shapiro. Don’t get me wrong, they all made brilliant points. I just think they would’ve gotten their point across better (and been more accepted by the left), by talking to Alan Dershowitz (which they did), who is a liberal, but agrees with them on these issues of free speech. They also showed clips from Bill Maher and President Obama, that were making the same points they wanted to put across. Smart move.
Tim Allen, who used to be known as the “tool time” guy, is now known as the conservative sitcom star; he’s the perfect person to chime in. That’s because his shows have been hurt (or cancelled) because of his conservative views. And seeing him sit down with Carolla and other comedians in front of the stage at the Improv, was interesting. They talked about comedy and how jokes used to be, versus how they are now. A heavy-set African-American comedian talked about a joke in which her size is normal in some parts of the country, and in California she’s a “beached whale.” When she says “In the midwest, they say I’m anorexic,” a woman after the show confronted her. She explained that she was bulimic and how you shouldn’t joke about that. That’s followed by Jerry Seinfeld (who has famously said he won’t do shows at college campuses anymore because of the PC environment). He has a great joke with the punchline being someone “looking like a gay, French king.” He has taken heat for that. Of course, we then get a brief segment on Kevin Hart being forced out as the host of the Oscars for some old tweets.
Other subjects that came up included social justice warriors, white privilege, and identity politics.
A lot of these topics I’ve heard Carolla talk about on his podcast, and Prager on his radio show. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when they’d insert humorous clips from shows like The Simpsons and South Park to make points, or a funny “Bill of Rights” School of Rock type song, edited hilariously. It kept things from getting too dry. Another segment, that is probably geared towards younger viewers, has Carolla talking about what happens to you in other countries if you try to speak your mind.
A very interesting segment involved professor Brett Weinstein, who was driven out of Evergreen College in Washington, because of these bizarre boycotts. He (was) a liberal professor, but he didn’t agree with a day students wanted where no white people were allowed to show up on campus. He showed up to teach his class, and soon enough, his life was in danger.
Another interesting story involved Prager, who as a classical music lover, sometimes conducts orchestras. He was going to do one as a fundraiser for an orchestra. Some musicians in the orchestra protested (simply because he’s a conservative), and boycotts were planned. As he was driving to the airport, he talked about how crazy it was that he was doing that for free, with all the money being raised going to the orchestra. They were hurting their own cause. At the end of the documentary, you find out what happens with those two outcomes. It wasn’t what I was expecting.
I’ve always been fascinated with how on his radio show, Prager can be calm and rational, while someone might be screaming at him on the phone. He shows that side here, once while engaging with a high school class, talking to an African-American girl who said people like Nazi’s shouldn’t have free speech. He smiled and said, “I’m Jewish and…I think they should have the right to speak and march,” and he went on to explain why. Later on a college campus, a similar discussion is had with African-American students. It’s odd that the college students weren’t completely getting the concept behind Prager’s points.
It’s smart that the filmmakers brought in speakers on both sides, so we see people like Van Jones and Cornel West.
Some might complain that Donald Trump is never brought up. I think the only time I heard his name was when Carolla was riffing on stage about “free speech trumps hate, and trumps Trump, and…”
It was smart not to bring up the President, because nothing about him has to do with free speech or any of the things discussed in this. Now what I think could’ve been brought up that wasn’t, was my take on all this. And that’s that the reason people can’t seem to have a civil conversation about differing opinions regarding politics, free speech, etc…is because social media has made it so that these conversations are always talked about; and people are now getting fired up on various websites and social media outlets. In the old days, you might argue about who your neighbor voted for over a beer at the block party, with the wives nudging the guys to shut up, and everyone moved on. Now people are just angry about it 24/7, and wanting people to lose their jobs over it. It was stated perfectly in the movie when someone said about the left, that they want diversity — except when it comes to diversity of opinion (and that was said by a democrat, who is also gay). Not to mention the fact that the “comments” sections on websites, and tweeting and posting everywhere, folks have learned they can be a lot meaner in their anonymity, then when they’re having an argument with someone face-to-face. That means when a mob gets together to protest something, things can escalate really, really fast.
Carolla told a great story about “white privilege.” (he often complains about that on his podcast). He applied to be a firefighter while he was working construction sites as a laborer. It took 6 years for him to get the letter, and he went to a school to take the test. He’s 6’5” strong, and thought…I don’t mind risking my life, this could be the job for me. A short, African-American woman was standing behind him. He was asking everyone around them how long ago they put in their application to become a firefighter. She said, “Last Tuesday.”
One of many things I got a good laugh out of (although it wasn’t intentional), was when Dershowitz said, “If you wanna feel good, get a massage.”
In light of his name popping up with the Jeffrey Epstein case, perhaps that line should have been left on the cutting room floor.
This documentary is getting limited release, and it’s in a few theatres locally. You should look out for it, and if you miss it on the big screen, it’s worth checking out in any other avenues you watch film.
4 stars out of 5.