The Film Industry's Selective Bravery
In Brooke Goldstein's and Aaron Meyer's book Lawfare: the war against free speech, there is a reference concerning perceived Islamist pressure on the motion picture industry that has led to a significant case of self-censorship.
Goldstein and Meyer quoted The Guardian, which stated in 2009 that:
He blew up the Empire State Building and the White House in Independence Day, sent a giant monster careering through the heart of Manhattan in Godzilla and destroyed the famous Hollywood sign in The Day After Tomorrow. But it seems there are places even Roland Emmerich will not go - the German film-maker has revealed he abandoned plans to obliterate Islam's holiest site on the big screen for fear of attracting a fatwa.
For his latest disaster movie, 2012, the 53-year-old director had wanted to demolish the Kaaba, the iconic cube-shaped structure in the Grand Mosque in Mecca that Muslims the world over turn towards every day when they pray and which they circle seven times during the hajj pilgrimage.
But after some consideration, he decided it might not be such a smart idea, after all.
"I wanted to do that, I have to admit," Emmerich told scifiwire.com. "But my co-writer Harald [Kloser] said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right."
The Huffington Post's Popeater website also quoted Emmerich as saying:
Fans of disaster movies shouldn't fear that Emmerich is losing his edge. The director, who did include a destruction shot of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, pushed plenty of other buttons. "Because I'm against organized religion," Emmerich explained.
"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."
So the next time someone from the motion picture industry -- or one of such a person's fans (be he from the media or just a movie buff) -- talks about how brave, edgy, and willing to "push the envelope" major filmmakers are, tell that person about 2012 or Independence Day. Ask why Roland Emmerich refused to show a scene where the Kaaba was destroyed while he had no problem with showing the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero being destroyed. I'm fairly sure you will be in for a convoluted explanation of religious tolerance -- which is really a mask to cover an example of unwillingness to "push the envelope" in the face of a perceived violent intolerance of differing opinions. It is almost formulaic: the more the film industry is willing to insult Christianity and Judaism, the less willing it is to insult Islam. Guess who the film industry winds up supporting...in at least a de facto manner.