Catholics Trashed, Muslims Spared in New Film

(Remnant News Watch November 15, 2009)

Mark Alessio

(Posted 12/07/09
 The film “2012” debuted in American movie theaters on November 13, 2009.  A special-effects extravaganza which ties contemporary natural disasters into the belief that ancient cultures predicted the year 2012 A.D. to be a time of great cataclysm, it was directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed the popular films “10,000 BC,” “The Patriot,” “Stargate” and “Independence Day.”

In a November 2, 2009, posting at the website, Peter Hall wrote:

The trailer for 2012 plays like a highlight reel of civilization falling apart all over the world, but it's religion that gets the brunt of Emmerich's digital pounding: A Buddhist temple gets hit by a tidal wave. The Sistine Chapel crumbles to pieces as a split tears right down the middle of Michelangelo's painting of God touching Adam's finger. St. Peter's Basilica rolls over onto a crowd of devoted worshipers. Rio de Janeiro's iconic Christ the Redeemer statue falls to earth as it’s wracked by shockwaves. The White House is even crushed by, of all things, an aircraft carrier. But eagle eyed fans of watching organized religion get its disaster porn comeuppance will have noticed that there are no Islamic landmarks on the CGI chopping block.

Hall notes that Emmerich had originally planned to depict also in “2012” the destruction of the Kaaba, an ancient stone structure which resides inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca and is considered one of the holiest sites in Islam. However, co-screenwriter Harald Kloser talked the director out of it. In a November 2nd interview with Sci-Fi Wire, Emmerich said:

"Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit ... but my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. ... We have to all ... in the Western world ... think about this. You can actually ... let ... Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have ... a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it's just something which I kind of didn't [think] was [an] important element anyway in the film, so I kind of left it out."

Comment: Chris Kelly, writing for the perpetually befuddled Huffington Post (Nov. 10, 2009), defended Emmerich’s choices by stating that “the reason Roland Emmerich chose Catholic icons to destroy is out of respect for Catholicism.” Yes, Mr. Kelly (who is a writer for the Real Time with Bill Maher show) believes that Emmerich “knows that Catholicism means real religion, and everything else is sort of silly.” Do the director’s own comments on his film bear out this interpretation?

In the Sci-Fi Wire interview cited above, Emmerich offered insights as to why he slated certain landmarks for destruction in “2012.” Two of these comments are interesting:

·         St. Peter’s Basilica: "The whole Vatican kind of tips and kind of rolls over the people. It said something, because in the story, some people ... believe in praying and prayer, and they pray in front of the church, and it's probably the wrong thing, what they would do in that situation."

·         Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro: “Because I'm against organized religion.”

Fair enough, if one can be consistent about it. If it were “probably the wrong thing” for Catholics to pray in front of a basilica in Rome during a time of upheaval, would it not also be “probably the wrong thing” for Muslims to pray before the Great Mosque in Mecca? Yet, Emmerich chooses to have Catholics pay for their “error.”

Respect for “Catholicism?” Emmerich comes right out and says he depicted the destruction of the Statue of Cristo Redentor in Rio for the simple reason, “I'm against organized religion!” Only someone in the employ of Bill “Religulous” Maher could spin that into a positive thing.

Perhaps it is not coincidental that two relevant film announcements were made at roughly the same time that Emmerich admitted his creative faint-heartedness regarding “2012”.

(1) On October 27, The Guardian, UK reported that a remake of “The Messenger” (aka “Muhammad, Messenger of Allah”) the 1970’s film biography of Muhammad, is in the works. The original film, released in 1976, was financed by Libyan leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi. According to screenwriter, Ramzi Thomas, "In the 21st century there is a real need for a film that emotionally engages audiences on the journey that led to the birth of Islam.” Although the High Islamic Congress of the Shia in Lebanon praised the original 1976 film, it led to violence in the United States when members of the Black Muslim association stormed buildings in Washington, DC, took 149 hostages, and demanded that the film be destroyed. The hostages were eventually freed, though a police officer and radio reporter were killed.

The remake of “The Messenger” will be titled “The Messenger of Peace.” Producer Oscar Zoghbi says, "We are trying to depict the values and teachings of the Prophet. It's not a historical film in any way.” It's not a historical film in any way? That is an odd statement, isn’t it? Why would a biographical film shun historicity? Nonie Darwish, author of the upcoming book, "Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law” said:

The movie will probably avoid or justify Muhammad's violent and unprovoked battling years in Medina, where assassination and mass murder were done by Muhammad … in order to spread the religion, take control and silence his critics. We will probably see the image of Muhammad that most Muslims were spoon-fed in their religious education.

 (2) On November 2, 2009, The Guardian, UK also reported that Barrie Osbourne, the producer of such blockbuster films as “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix” is planning a biopic of the Prophet Muhammad:

Budgeted at around $150m (£91.5m), the film will chart Muhammad's life and examine his teachings. Osborne told Reuters that he envisages it as "an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam" …. "The film will shed light on the Prophet's life since before his birth to his death," Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mustafa, Alnoor's [a Qatar-based production company] chairman, told al-Jazeera. "It will highlight the humanity of Prophet Muhammad."

Of course, in deference to Muslim sensibilities (and in order to avoid any repeat of the siege and hostage situation of 1976), neither “The Messenger of Peace,” nor Osbourne’s film, will actually depict Muhammad.

Regarding those who have questioned the reasoning behind Roland Emmerich’s creative choices in the movie “2012,” Maher-scribe Chris Kelly said, “The offense takers are offended because 2012 forgot to offend any Muslims.” With all the perception and acumen of a kindergartner, Kelly manages to trace it all back to old-fashioned Christian mean-spiritedness.

In reality, those who have shined the light on Emmerich’s hypocrisy have done what commentators are supposed to do: observe and analyze trends, and note the reason for and purpose of inconsistencies. Does Mr. Kelly enjoy living in a world where art is policed at sword-point? Does he consider it a good thing that, just last year, Random House Publishers cancelled publication of the historical novel, “The Jewel of Medina” (about Muhammad and his 9-year-old bride, A’isha), after a professor of Islamic history made veiled threats? Does he consider it a good thing that Theo van Gogh was murdered for making a film that criticized the treatment of women in Islam? Remember Salman Rushdie, Mr. Kelly? Peaceful protests, such as those mounted against the blasphemous plays, “Jesus Has Two Mommies” and Terrence McNally’s “Corpus Christi,” are one thing. The instances cited above are another thing altogether.

The film, television and entertainment industries, as well as various media sources, continue to treat Catholicism as the ultimate punching bag, while simultaneously according Islam a “sacred cow” status, immune from criticism. On the rare occasions when this order has been reversed, the response was violent. In 2005, the publication of editorial cartoons bearing the image of Muhammad by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, resulted in the burning of Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Tehran, and the Danish consulate in Lebanon, among other acts of reprisal.

One can understand the timidity – make that “stark fear” – of Emmerich and Kloser. They know, for a fact, that no contracts will be placed on their heads because of “2012,” right? Where were all the “siege and hostage” situations initiated by angry Catholics after the release of “The Last Temptation of Christ?” There weren’t any. Are commentators supposed to sit on their hands when a major film director like Roland Emmerich puffs up his chest and proclaims his contempt for “organized religion” and his glee at depicting a church falling on praying Catholics, while admitting that he censored his script for fear of reprisal by disgruntled Muslims? Does a director’s sense of self-preservation allow him free rein to pontificate unchallenged from both sides of his mouth?

“Maher-ite” Chris Kelly titled his Huffington Post article, “2012 Offends Catholics, Dimwits, Ex-Cons.” But the only “dimwit” here is the one who turns a blind eye to the motive for and implications of Mr. Emmerich’s “creative” decision.


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