Mobs are rioting and taking the lives of innocent people. Jolly good, then. In response, let's all talk about a really fucking terrible movie.
For those of you alive in September of 2012 who haven't been following the news, an American ambassador was killed in Libya and related violence has continued in other countries. The rioters blame an obscure film for their actions.
The first part of Innocence of Muslims was shot on a rented Hollywood backlot, and therefore looks better than anything that follows. We're apparently in modern Egypt, where a mob of maybe seven weapon-wielding Muslims are looking to kill Christians. A Christian doctor narrowly escapes, and his wife and daughter want to know how things got this way. In response, he retells the origins of Islam. Someone's idea of the origin of Islam, anyway.
At this point, the film switches to scenes mainly shot against green screen, with Middle Eastern desert backgrounds poorly superimposed behind the actors. Seriously, at times the characters appear to be floating above the ground. Most of the actors involved have come forward and said they had no idea they were doing a film about Mohammed or Islam. They had been shown a script for an action/comedy sort of thing called The Desert Warrior. The footage that has been leaked everywhere supports their claim. References to Mohammed and the Quran have obviously been dubbed, and badly dubbed at that.
And so we get an incoherent, sex-obsessed retelling of the life of Mohammed and the development of Islam in fragmented scenes, spun in such a way as to be as offensive to Muslims as possible. Whether a longer, complete film actually exists remains an open question, as of this writing. The people behind the film ran it once, in a rented theater. Reportedly, almost no one showed up. Reporters have been unable to confirm that what was shown was much longer or more polished than the online bits.
Then there's the matter of the reaction. Seriously? People exist who feel so threatened by this craptastic movie that they're rioting and killing people? And some people in the West feel the need to apologize for the fact that this film exists? It's not like any of the criticisms this film makes against Islam are new. You can look up other Youtube videos, Jack T. Chick tracts, and anti-Islamic sites and find roughly the same things being said. Furthermore, the excerpts of Innocence of Muslims have been online since July 2, 2012. Suddenly, on the eve of 9-11 an Arabic-language version turns up and people are rioting. Anyone else calling shenanigans?
It's also clear that someone made this film in order to outrage. Unlike Salmon Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, which had thoughtful criticisms of a broad range of religious and cultural traditions and some actual talent behind it, Innocence of Muslims utterly lacks subtlety or artistry. Then there's the manner in which it was promoted. The showing in the rented theatre identified the film as Innocence of Bin Laden, and posters purported the film would expose the real menace to today's world. Posters were in Arabic. Clearly, someone wanted to draw an Arab-speaking audience, perhaps under the mistaken belief that they would see the U.S. or Israel condemned or Al Qaeda exonerated. Instead, they would see an offensive attack on Islam. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, no one was interested.
When the proverbial poop finally hit the metaphoric fan, the film's supposed maker, "Sam Bacile" gave a phone interview in which he claimed to be Israeli-born, and insisted the film cost five million dollars, provided by a group of Jewish doctors. His Youtube account, meanwhile, stresses that the film was made in America. Talk about playing to the prejudices of a certain crowd. If this thing cost five thousand dollars, I shall eat my hat. The minimal funding did not come from imaginary Jewish doctors. And "Sam Bacile" appears to be an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian with a rap sheet.
"Sam Bacile" has been named variously as the producer, writer, and director of the movie. Mr. Bacile has been identified as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. He has been convicted in the past of bank fraud and drug-related offenses. Nakoula claims he is a financier of the film, but not the director or the writer. The cell phone used by "Sam Bacile," however, has been traced to Nakoula, and it's clear Bacile does not actually exist. Furthermore, Nakoula has in the past used pseudonyms similar to "Sam Bacile." More recently, the Net has been aflame with claims that a maker of softcore porn films and cheap horror movies, Alan Roberts (a pseudonym for Robert Alan Brownell) was involved in directing. Cast members have claimed that both Nakoula and Brownell were involved with the production. Doubtless, more will be learned over time, conspiracy theorists will muddy that which is known, and sane people will move onto bigger, though in some cases, related, issues.
As for the rioters, they can't hide behind their outrage over an idiotic, Grade Z movie, especially given reports (and practical likelihood) that protests had been planned for some time. All they've accomplished by their actions is to kill some people who had nothing to do with the film and harm many more, reinforce negative views of Islam in the West— and ensure that everyone in the world knows this dumbass film exists.