I just watched Dutch right-winger, Geert Wilders' film, Fitna, The Movie. He had promised it to be too shocking, too frightening, too disturbing and much of the world was holding its breath in morbid, anxious, wait for its release. The media feared rabid violence by those Muslims.
My initial reaction is a yawn. No surprise, of course. The soundtrack is Tchaikovsky's mellow classical piece called "Arab Dance." Quick tip to future demagogues: when trying to incite riots, try not to use musical pieces that are based on Georgian lullabies. Quick tip to future Islamophobes: when trying to demonize Islam, try not to use elements of Western culture that are inspired by Arabs and Muslims as that reveals that Muslims have something positive to contribute to the world.
Anyone who has seen terrorist propaganda films is familiar with most of the scenes and most of the disgusting conflations of the Quran with acts of violence, murder, kidnapping and anti-Semitism. Such behavior has been condemned resoundingly among Muslims. Those that use the Quran for illegitimate and criminal ends should be punished by the fullest extent of the law.
What I'm really wondering: is Wilders' protesting against Islam or the monopoly extremists already have over grainy, low-budget, YouTube videos? The only difference I see is that Wilders plays the best of Western classical music -- an insult to the legacy of Tchaikovsky -- than death chants. I guess the thing he can be credited with is upping the sound quality. Also the transubstantiation of "Fitna" into "Fin" at the end was pretty cool.
The rest of the film is a mixture of conflating the most painful and heart-wrenching images from terror-strikes with extremist imams, in an effort to turn the entirety of Islam into a demonic edifice. This is neither new, nor interesting. It is a facile trick for facile minds. Cartoons show more a more subtle grasp of the human condition.
What the film really shows to me is that when it comes to challenging Islamism, Wilders is completely lost. He reminds me of those socially awkward, marginalized, introverted children in a school-yard whose solution to persecution at the hands of a bully is to write the bully's name in his notebook and then rip up the page.
If Wilders really wanted to expose Islamism -- the entire legacy of 20th century ideological Islam -- he would start with how the French Suez Canal Company funded the Muslim Brotherhood's first mosque. That fact is casually mentioned in Hasan al-Banna's autobiography (which I am certain Wilders bothered to consult). Or Wilders would have tried to begin some criminal proceeding in the international criminal courts against those men who came up with the genius idea of encouraging disaffected Arab youth into going into Afghanistan and then gave them $1 billion in machine guns, bombs and stinger missiles to play with. Or Wilders could have expressed some outrage over the drafters of the new Iraqi constitution -- drafted in consultation with Western lawyers -- which makes Sharia the law of the land (a fact bemoaned by Iraqi feminists).
But Wilders isn't actually serious about challenging Islamism. He is concerned only about multiplying the number of times his name is pinged on Google. Couldn't he have taken solace in the fact that his name is pinged more than mine?
I can't be sure how the Islamist demagogues will spin this film. Presumably some of them will consider this a kind of frontal assault against their idiocy -- idiots recognize one another -- and begin agitations which the media will be too happy to cover. However, the fact is, a majority of Muslims are going to react to this film with the same kind of casual shrug of the shoulders that it deserves. If there are Muslims who wish to protest -- and I really don't see why its even necessary -- my advice for them is to emulate Hossein Nouri. He is the paraplegic painter who, during the Danish Cartoon Fiasco, painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary in front of the Danish embassy. Here is a picture of his marvelous work.
In terms of sheer originality, though, the best response to this film came from a friend of mine who watched the film -- and calling it a film is to abuse both the English language and the legacy of cinema -- on my computer with me.
"I could have masturbated in that time."