Dance, Ramtha, Dance!
‘What the Bleep’ Is Longer and Loonier than Ever Before
What the BLEEP!? Down the Rabbit Hole
dir. William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente
I’ll give them this: The What the BLEEP franchise is pretty damn clever. Following the same basic strategy of those Lyndon LaRouche pamphlets distributed by glassy-eyed college dropouts on Broadway and the Ave, BLEEP (which made $11 million on its initial release) plants recognizable academic jargon into intentionally convoluted and hard-to-follow arguments, then takes a left turn into lunacy. The filmmakers put a bunch of anonymous talking heads on a screen and bide their time as the supposed experts hit up fancy concepts like “grand unified field theory” (ooh) and “neuropeptides” (aah). You may not have a clue what they’re talking about, but gee do they sound smart. The next thing you know, you’re nodding sagaciously as the “experts” explain how your cells are addicted to negative emotions and that if you really wanted to, you could change the pH of a little white box with your mind.
The first What the BLEEP (a ridiculous narrative-”documentary” hybrid) came out in 2004. You might have thought that this directors’ cut would have afforded the filmmakers the opportunity to refine or withdraw some of the original film’s more reckless claims. No such luck. What the BLEEP!? Down the Rabbit Hole—padded with an extra hour of crude cartoon animation and all-new pseudoscience—doesn’t make responsibility a top priority.
The filmmakers (all of whom are affiliated with the New Age sect Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, or RSE, in Yelm) decided not to remove footage of David Albert, a philosophy professor at Columbia University and one of the film’s few legitimate academics, who has publicly denounced the distortion of his views through selective editing. Dumb move. They also retain the testimony of Miceal (sic) Ledwith, one of “Ramtha’s Appointed Teachers.” According to Willamette Week and Salon, Ledwith, who used to be known as Monsignor Michael Ledwith, resigned from his post as president of Dublin’s Maynooth College after a seminarian accused Ledwith of sexually abusing him as a boy. This revelation gives the personal-responsibility shtick he preaches in the film (“If we’re victims, we should ask ourselves, have I a victim mentality?”) a certain je ne sais—barf. Then there’s the chiropractor and the paranormal researchers and the transcendental-meditation advocate… Suffice it to say, you’re not going to learn anything about quantum physics from this film.
If you are dragged to see the interminable What the BLEEP!? Down the Rabbit Hole by some supremely gullible friend, there are odd moments of hilarity to savor. The hokey “experiment” conducted by a Japanese “researcher” named Masaru Emoto, for example, made the new version, despite ridicule from scientists and journalists. In his study (which, needless to say, was neither double-blind nor published in a peer-reviewed journal), bottles of water were affixed with labels like “Chi of Love” and “You make me sick I hate you.” Then the bottles were frozen and the resulting ice crystals examined under a microscope. According to some lady in the movie, who is inexplicably delivering a lecture in a windy subway tunnel, the crystals from the "love" bottle were beautiful, and the “hate-sick” crystals were not. The only difference I could discern was that the love crystal was dyed blue, and the hate-sick crystal was dyed puke green. But what the bleep do I know?
And then, of course, there’s Ramtha himself, the 35,000 year-old Lemurian warrior who is “channeled” by a superrich, puffy-faced blond woman from Yelm named JZ Knight. Ramtha appears in the film, speaks in a wacky brogue, and puffs away on a Sherlock Holmes–style pipe. But sadly, he does not dance. Whatever put this idea into my head, you might ask? Quoth the press notes: “Noted parapsychologists Ian Wickramasekera and Stanley Krippner of Saybrook Graduate School repeatedly observed that while JZ Knight is channeling Ramtha, her brain-wave state shifts from beta (a normal waking state) to delta (deepest sleep). Although operating from delta, Ramtha is able to talk, walk, eat, drink, and dance using JZ’s lower cerebellum.” God, would I shell out to see two and a half hours of that. Dance, Ramtha, dance!