Representing what would be a solid second part of a double bill of docs about wacky religions to follow (the better, funnier) Hail, Satan?, Oregon-based director Michael Arthur’s I, Pastafari takes an amusing look at the followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, AKA Pastafarianism. A relatively new but fast-growing addition to the field of made-up satirical religions, this serious-about-being-silly cult was basically invented in 2005 by a graduate student named Bobby Henderson. He wrote an open letter that went viral to the Kansas state board of education (which was debating whether to allow the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution), demanding that the board also give equal time in classrooms to the study of how the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world. Soon, other “worshippers” in effect crowdsourced instructional texts and eight commandments: your basic liberal humanist guidelines gussied up with mock-religious language – and the obligatory semi-frivolous court cases.
The film tracks several cases in particular, particularly that of some worshippers in the Netherlands who want their right to wear colanders on their head recognised legally for the purposes of official identification cards. There’s the case of a schism in Germany who prefer pirate gear, for unclear reasons. This cues up some interesting debates around the essence of religion, given EU guidelines that demand worshippers must be “serious” about their beliefs. Does that disqualify parody or satirical religions like this? Can’t satire be deadly serious? Does the use of tacky pasta-based puns (such as substituting “r’amen” for “amen”) immediately undermine those claims?
The stakes felt a bit more urgent in Penny Lane’s Hail, Satan? which also had more charismatic characters and uglier, stupider antagonists than the patient jurists who rule against the pastafarians here. Nevertheless, it’s an amiable enough diversion, competently assembled.
Source: The Guardian