This isn’t the first time we’ve sampled The Apple here at The B-Movie Catechism, but the simple fact is that Menahem Golan’s gonzo musical/biblical allegory is a crap-filled cornucopia that never runs empty. For instance, in our review of the film we didn’t even get around to mentioning the brief sequence in which the entire movie comes to a screeching halt so that every single person on the planet can take part in a daily state sponsored exercise routine. Behold, if you dare, the national BIM Hour.
At first glance, this would appear to be some sort of government run torture program. I mean, “Hey hey hey, BIM’s on the way!” repeated ad nauseam for a straight hour. That’s worse than water boarding, right? But the citizens seem to love it, so that theory doesn’t really work. I suppose BIM Hour could be a national health care initiative, as the dialog hints at. After all, a fit populace would definitely cut down on expenditures. But no, there seems to be far too many portly participants for that to be the case. If the exercise hour is some part of BIMcare, it’s definitely one that’s not working.
That leaves ritual. As behavioral scientists Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton noted in a recent post at Scientific American…
“People engage in rituals with the intention of achieving a wide set of desired outcomes, from reducing their anxiety to boosting their confidence, alleviating their grief to performing well in a competition – or even making it rain…. Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective… What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work… Despite the absence of a direct causal connection between the ritual and the desired outcome, performing rituals with the intention of producing a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result to come true.”
Okay. So, what is the desired outcome BIM is hoping for with their daily dose of mandatory jazzercise? Well, in an article for the journal, Cultural Anthropology, sociocultural anthropologist Barry J. Lyons suggests rituals play an important part in discipline and the maintenance of social order. He states, “Anthropologists have long regarded ritual as a way that societies make cultural assumptions tangible and impress social structural principles upon participants.” Given that, the ritual of BIM Hour is most likely a way of reinforcing the populace’s collective voluntary submission to BIM. It’s the Nuremberg Rallies via way of the dance floor.
Ritual doesn’t have to be so sinister, though. Discussing the Christian ritual of the mass, the Catechism explains that…
“Signs and symbols taken from the social life of man: washing and anointing, breaking bread and sharing the cup can express the sanctifying presence of God and man's gratitude toward his Creator. The great religions of mankind witness, often impressively, to this cosmic and symbolic meaning of religious rites.”
In the case of religion, then, the purpose of ritual is not merely to establish some form of social order (although some secular leaders have almost certainly attempted to use religion for such reasons). The rituals of religion are meant to do no less than allow its participants to experience God. Of course, that only works if people actually show up and participate in said rituals. Might want to remember that come next Sunday.