Last week a pathetic group of dweebs attempted to protest the opening of Superhero Movie in order to make their anger over Harvey Weinstein’s handling of Fanboys known. The protests were a hilarious disaster, as you can expect.
But where were these fanboys when the short film Fitna was being removed from the internet left and right for fear of reprisal by radical Muslims? I find myself much more concerned that YouTube and Liveleak won’t allow the film on their servers* because they think their staff might get killed than that Harvey Scissorhands might change the intentions of a movie about Star Wars geeks with cancer. Yet looking at most of the movie nerd sites you wouldn’t know any such thing as Fitna even existed, and you might think there was an actual audience for Fanboys and that it won’t eventually top out at 2 million dollars.
I have not seen Fitna. The short film was made by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a man whose politics feel repugnant to me: a self-proclaimed free speech advocate, he wants to ban the Koran in his country. He wants to suspend the Dutch constitution and the European Convention on Civil Rights in the face of what he views as growing threats from extremist Muslims. He wants to end immigration to the Netherlands. After the savage assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a fundamentalist Muslim, Wilders began working on Fitna, which apparently is about the way passages from the Koran are used to justify violence by radicals.
I can’t judge the contents of Fitna. It could be hate speech. It could be political hay making. It could be absolutely correct. But it should be seen by those who want to see it. I often wonder about radical Muslims who threaten violence when someone portrays Islam as violent – are these people utterly without a sense of irony? I mean, take a look at what you’re doing, guys. It’s sort of baffling.
What’s even more baffling is how I, as a liberal, am supposed to take this. I think I’m supposed to ignore this. I know that I was supposed to ignore the murder of Van Gogh, who was killed because his short film Submission examined Islamic violence against women. When Steve Buscemi remade Van Gogh’s Interview I had a chance to chat with him, and the political aspects of the killing never came up; Buscemi simply wanted to honor the guy with his remake (which I think he did. It’s a good movie).
If there’s one thing I’ve never kept quiet it’s my feelings on religion: I think it’s stupid. I feel bad for people who have to adhere to some kind of doctrine to make themselves feel more secure in their lives, to give themselves some meaning. But I don’t feel bad for the Christian assholes who hate democracy just as much as the Islamic extremists do and want to impose their moronic, medieval beliefs on my country with opposition to stem cell research, abortion, evolution and gay marriage, among other things. Fuck those people.
Fuck these people, too. Fuck the people who are reacting with violence to opposing viewpoints, no matter how offensive or insensitive those viewpoints may be. Fuck the people who have created such a chill on discussion that not only are people afraid to show Fitna, it feels like people just don’t want to talk about it**. Fuck these lunatics and savages for proving their critics right at every turn. Fuck their barbaric, medieval religion too. And while we’re at it, fuck the rest of the religions – isn’t it obvious that it’s these superstitious belief systems, more than almost anything else, that’s holding us back as a race? Humanity is trapped under the weight of semi-prehistoric fantasy bullshit.
It’s obvious that the violent lunatics are a minority of all Muslims alive today, just like the abortion clinic bombing Christians are a minority of all Christians alive today. But there’s a level of tolerance that’s been reached, as far as I’m concerned, with any religious group who is trying to make everybody else think the way they do. The Christians evolved past violence a couple of hundred years ago, although I’m sure they’d go right back to it in a heart beat (isn’t that what is really happening in Iraq today – a crusade? Doesn’t George Bush think his God is just as much on his side as every suicide bombing Al Qaeda member thinks Allah is on his side?), but they’ll never evolve past trying to make everyone else conform to their fucked up belief system. I remember how outraged I was when Christians issued death threats for films like Dogma and The Last Temptation of Christ, but they were just squawking. There are Muslims out there actually killing people because of their art and their political views.
The answer to all of this isn’t to bomb Muslim countries. That’s making it worse. What needs to happen is that an Age of Enlightment must come to the Middle East. Maybe that’s part of what we’re seeing now, the violent spasms of an outdated, horrible old belief system that is trying to protect itself by any means necessary. I know that every time a Christian in America gets outraged about something in the movies or TV that is seen as being anti-Christian we’re a little bit closer to being rid of these people and their beliefs, that they’re getting pissed off because they know they can’t win the argument with rationality so they have to do it with hate and censorship.
The answer is to see Fitna. The answer is to stand up against the assholes who want to kill people who disagree with them. This is always the answer when it comes to controversial political art: whenever someone wants to suppress a viewpoint you should go out of your way to find out exactly what’s being suppressed. It doesn’t matter how horrible you find the viewpoint to be, it’s our duties as thinking human beings to make sure that it can be expressed. I may see Fitna and think that Geert Wilders is a total cocksucker, but I want to be able to make that decision for myself. I don’t want that decision handed down to me by your self serving holy man or your dumbass holy book. I don’t want it dictated to me by the keepers of public morality or the defenders of the feelings of minority groups. I don’t want to live in a world where nobody offends anybody else, especially because some people desperately need offending.
We live in dangerous and strange times. It’s tough being caught in the middle – on the one hand I think that these Islamic extremists are among the worst people alive, and I think they’re about as close to evil as you can get. On the other hand I think most of the self-styled enemies of these Islamic extremists are among the worst people alive, and I think they’re about as close to evil as you can get. It’s like a colossal war of the assholes out there, and those of us in the middle need to fight hard to make sure that we’re not drowning in either side’s shit.
*While doing research for this I have read that Liveleak will allow the film to be shown, but that Wilders has removed it to make some minor edits to get around copyright violations. Liveleak only decided to allow Fitna after a ‘security upgrade’ was put in place to protect employees.
** Here’s an interesting fact: There were more films with Islamic extremists as the villains in the 90s than there were after 9/11.