Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Innnocence of Muslims

How often is it that a movie is so incredibly bad that people are killed over it?  "The Innocence of Muslims" is one of the very few cases in history of a film actually resulting in immediate deaths and carnage, because of how just unbelievably insulting, insensitive, and repugnant it is.  Years ago, films like "Passion of the Christ" created huge protests, "Song of the South" is never going to get released again for its quasi-racist undertones, and the British for awhile were particularly fond of banning gory horror movies.  But "The Innocence of Muslims" is on a whole other level, since it has directly caused the deaths of American diplomat in Libya, Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  Worse, Stevens was a good man, working his best to help stabilize Libya and secure democracy there, so its a massive loss for everybody involved.

Really, the only movies that are on "Innocence of Muslims" level are Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda piece, "Triumph of the Will" and D. W. Griffith's historically revisionist silent-era Ku Klux Klan epic, "The Birth of a Nation"*.

Now, I haven't actually seen "The Innocence of Muslims", all I've seen is an incredibly-long thirteen-minute trailer on Youtube, which is pretty much a selection of choice scenes to give me the gist of what's going on.  And thirteen minutes is probably too much of this movie to even watch, considering how utterly terrible it is at its very core.  This is a movie with the central message that the religion of Islam is a lie, the Prophet Muhammad was an insane (homosexual?) womanizing pedophile, and that all the entirety of Muslim culture represent is violence, barbarism, and hilariously bad greenscreen effects.  With a message so blatantly hateful, its hard to say there's any message at all here, except as perhaps some kind of elaborate joke.  Eventually I'm sure there will be full cuts of this movie available, but its never going to theaters, and its never getting a DVD release.  Unless of course, you find some horrible racist right-wing Christian group to distribute it.  With production values as bad as the subject matter, "The Innocence of Muslims" is also a pretty good successor to movies like "Troll 2" or "Birdemic".  Only those bad movies had something of an innocent stupidity to them... this is just hateful.

I couldn't laugh at it.  I was laughing for awhile, but eventually the raw evil of this product overcame even my ironic love of bad cinema.  Its too much evil to me to enjoy.  There really is no reason for "The Innocence of Muslims" to continue existing.

The creator of this movie is a mysterious figure known as "Sam Bacile" or by his real name "Nakoula Basseley Nakoula", who wrote the movie while in prison for bank fraud.  Previously he's gone to jail for selling Methamphetamine.  Right now he's being questioned by the authorities, more news to come. The story behind the production is still unclear, but the scenes I saw proved to be a unbelievably low-quality production.  Its a movie clearly made by people who don't know how to make movies, and 90% of it seems to have been filmed in somebody's garage in front of a green screen.  Inexplicably the trailer opened with an actual house with actual props and a whole Humvee.  This is of course, a modern setting, which I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is doing in a movie mainly about Muhammad.  Except perhaps as some kind of postscript about how the Muslim faith is inherently deranged and all Muslims are evil and fuck you Sam Bacile or PJ Tobacco or whatever the hell you're called now.

Alan Roberts did the actual directing, but he knew nothing of the real intent of the movie and it was edited behind his back.  If you don't know who Alan Roberts is, you're like me, because I didn't know either.  His career is mostly focused on B-movie action films and porns.

 The story, as much as you can say there is a story, is the tale of Muhammad, an insane man living in a green screen Arabia in the early sixth century.  The first we see of him, he's hearing voices, so this woman, presumably Khadīja al-Kubra, Mother of Islam, Muhammad's first wife, brings Muhammad into her tent.  Where he then sits down and, oops, he's not wearing underwear.  Anyway, Khadīja offers that Muhammad stick his head between her legs, and somehow this fixes... him.  Its at this point that I rolled on the floor laughing, because nothing I had just seen made any goddamn sense.  It really is a movie just like "Troll 2" where its people who don't like people, they don't act like people do, and it all feels like it was directed by somebody who doesn't actually know how to speak English.  Its like if somehow a movie from another dimension came into our world.  The dimension is filled with humans that are a lot like us, but really really off.  They look human but they do things that no human ever would.  Like, they wear their shoes on their ears and take shits in the shower.  Nothing makes any sense!  Alan Roberts can escape blame for the horrible anti-Muslim additions, but he can't escape blame for making a truly awful movie.  I suspect everybody involved knew just how terrible this was going to turn out to be and thus rightly gave no effort at all.

Anyway, Muhammad somehow manages to gather up an "army" - as much as you can call three dudes an army, and leads a religious revolution.  This includes ripping off some old lady's legs, getting chased around his tent by his wives, and apparently having gay sex with some guy.  I don't know.  Even if I had seen the whole movie, I really doubt any of this would made much sense.  There's also a dude with a beard out of pubes.  Muhammad basically is Tom Green in this too, I have no idea why anybody would follow him, or even if he's supposed to be scary.  He's not really menacing or charismatic.  Everybody is White too.  Because Fifth Century Arabia was filled with White People.  I didn't see anything involving the journey to Jerusalem, the Quran gets rewritten at least once to fit Muhammad's needs at the moment, God is nowhere to be found, no Hajj, no Kaaba, really nothing if you actually know the religion or the history.  Its a movie made by idiots.

Now, the tragic part is not merely the repercussions and ignition of global hatred again, but also the fact that the actors and crew didn't know what movie they were making.  You can clearly see that every explicit mention of Muhammad and the Quran and most religious features have been dubbed in after the principle filming.  The actors and crew have thus all publicly rejected this movie, and I'm pretty sure lawsuits are being filed as I write this review.  The dubbing is pretty obvious considering that the sound quality is terrible throughout the entire trailer, and then suddenly when the ADR cuts in, the sound quality is slightly better and their voices change significantly.  The crew thought they were making a movie called "Desert Warriors" starring a man called "Master George".  "Desert Warriors" could have been yet another epic B-movie to add to the list of hilarious failures going right on my list next to "Birdemic".  But now, even that has been ruined.

I should make a point that the riots surrounding the publicity of this movie do not actually prove the anti-Muslim points of this film.  They're saying that the Muslim religion is nothing but falsity, blood, and violence, which is a rather horrible way of discrediting over a thousand years of Middle Eastern art, literature, music, and culture, much of which was directly inspired by the Quran.  Islam is one of the greatest cultural forces of the last 1500 years, and has had at least as much of an impact on the world, both positive and negative, as Christianity.  People who say that religions inspire nothing but evil are idiots, they don't know their history.  I could write an entire book about the contributions of Muslim culture, but instead I'll just request that you visit the Dome of the Rock, the Great Mosque of Cordoba (now a Cathedral), the Taj Mahal, and hell, even the Hagia Sofia - a building that would only be half as beautiful if not for the additions of the Muslim Minarets.  Study your art, study your history, and learn something before you make massive judgment calls on an entire faith.

Also, the violence and attacks on the US Embassy were not a representation of the entire Muslim world, or even the entire Libyan people.  They're as upset and shocked by this as we are.  Moreover, its unknown if the attack on the US Embassy was even a true reaction to the controversy sparked by this shitty movie, or if was a preplanned terrorist attack that simply took advantage of the anger to strike at us.  Unfortunately, Muslim relations with the rest of the world is especially tense in our time, there isn't any especially violent or hateful in the Muslim faith.  If "Last Temptation of Christ" had come out a few hundred years earlier, Martin Scorsese would have been lynched.  We're lucky that the other faiths of the world are as tolerant as they are:  and the Christians still have room for improvement, by the way.  It was a self-proclaimed Christian who made this movie.

Final conclusion:  "The Innocence of Muslims" sucks as a movie, it sucks an idea, and the man who made it is a horrible person.  I'm not saying he can't make his horrible piece of shit movie, if you got the money and the reach you can say whatever you want.  But you'll still be wrong, and your movie will still have no reason to exist.  Except perhaps, as a lesson.  Don't do this.

* And D. W. Griffith was nice enough to make an apologetic successor to "Birth of a Nation" called "Intolerance", which attempted to create a message of unity of people and the horrors of division and violence.  He also probably didn't know exactly what he was doing or inspiring when he made "Birth of a Nation", instead he focused primarily on massively expanding the art and scope of early filmmaking.  Still, it did lead to the massive resurgence of popularity of the Klan throughout most of the 20th century and we can all be sorry for that.  Notably however, it did inspire a reactionary film from the African American community called "Within Our Gates", directed by Oscar Micheaux, which may be the first film ever directed by an African American.

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