Watch what you depict!

No Islamic Landmarks Were Harmed in the Making of '2012' (via Unreligious Right):

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 Michelangeo'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 Reedemer statue falls to earth as its 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.

That wasn't always the plan, however. Emmerich explained to SCI FI Wire that he had originally hoped the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in the Islamic religion, would join the visual wrath of 2012, but that his co-screenwriter Harald Kloser talked him out of it:

"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."

Some of this is probably corporate concerns for distribution. Controversy and blasphemy of Christianity can result in more publicity and sales in Western countries. But in much of the world forbidden content might result in the banning of a film. Roland Emmerich does make really bad films, so I oppose censorship in this case out of principle and not pragmatism.

In other news, Arabs think the Arab world sucks* (Turks and Persians think their nations are crappy too):

i-70e84843174f7ef4efa402536d755e5e-42jcbvgfbuaf9fca-retea.png

Interestingly, Middle Eastern countries aren't that bad on the Human Development Index. Compare & contrast with Africa & South Asia for example. I wonder if the Asian satisfaction with where their live has to do with the perception that the 21st century is going to be the "Asian century."

* Though if you click through, you will note that many Muslims (and presumably Asians) would like to move to Saudi Arabia.

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I wonder if Emmerich considered Jerusalem? Do you reckon the Wailing wall would be fair game in this way?

It seems unfair to say that Emmerich makes "really bad films" while most of his films have simply been mediocre. There are some real disasters in his past but he has some which are ok (Stargate and The Thirteenth Flood both being examples of half-way decent films he was involved in).

More seriously, the general degree of self-censorship in response to Muslim violence is a really disturbing thing. And as far as I can tell, the pattern has gotten worse in the last few years rather than better. I don't know what to do about it. It is all very nice and easy to say that people should just make whatever art they would and damn the consequences, but I'm not the one putting my life at risk.

yep. when i put a photo of a koran in the mouth of a pig on the blog people close to me were kind of worried. i don't recall ever wondering if christians or buddhists would get angry and if a nutso would chase me when i insult their religion. OTOH, you pretty much can't help just wondering if you do that with muslims.

I wonder if Emmerich considered Jerusalem? Do you reckon the Wailing wall would be fair game in this way?

how many ultra-orthodox jews are there? anyway, would they even care what a gentile does? seems that ultras get really agitated when other jews do things offensive, but don't care too much about gentiles unless they're in israel proper.

p.s. though emmerich is german born. from what gather the deutsch tend to be a bit more sensitive to jews all-things-equal.

I don't trust that map at all. Rurope, the Americas, adn Asia are too uniform.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 08 Nov 2009 #permalink

I doubt depicting the destruction of the Wall would do much. That's partially because of the fact that the Wall's history is connected to the destruction of the Temple as a whole. Essentially, it is already a ruin, so they wouldn't get that worked up about it. Also, there's an understanding that theologically the Wall has no intrinsic importance.

If you wanted to get a rise out of the ultra-orthodox community I suspect that depicting the burning of a Torah would have much more of an impact. But even then, one would likely need to actually burn a Torah not just depict it. However, doing so would get a massive reaction and probably some pretty nasty reactions even from nominally moderate Jews. Even as someone who doesn't believe, the notion of burning a Torah fills me with deep angst.

Keep in mind that the ultra-orthodox riot over pretty minimal provocation. However, those riots are generally over essentially local issues. When chareidim in Jerusalem riot over some Shabbat issue, the chareidim in neighboring cities don't riot or do much at all. So the sort of large-scale reaction that occurs when Muslims react world-wide is unlikely to occur even if one did something like burning an actual Torah.

@razib

I'm pretty sure there might be somebody who would chase you off when you insult his or her religion regardless of Buddhists Christians or Muslims.

I've know a lot of Muslim who wouldn't mind watching their related icons being destroyed by nature forces in the movies, and I 'm pretty sure that if emmerich was to have included kabaa in the movie, that wouldn't trigger the fatwa on his head. the case of disaster movie is very different from a kind of fitna the movie, or the dennish cartoon. this movie is not real, and its telling goal is also not an insulting kind.

Maybe we do not know much about the nature of Islam and Muslim, and thats why we are so afraid just about everything about them.

I'm pretty sure there might be somebody who would chase you off when you insult his or her religion regardless of Buddhists Christians or Muslims.

there are nuts in all religions, and ideologies, and groups. the key is

1) the proportion of nuts

2) what people feel are outside of the boundaries of acceptability

fwiw, i used to regularly comment on the south asian american weblog 'sepia mutiny,' and dismiss religion implicitly and explicitly. many people found it offensive, christian, hindu, sikh, muslim, etc. but i did note that on old threads several times self-identified muslims were the ones who demanded that my comments be removed and i be banned for my insults. granted, these muslims were offended by my mockery of religion, period, so they weren't necessarily sectarian. south asian hindus and sikhs often seem as exercised by offense toward their religions as muslims as a whole are, so perhaps it is a muslim + brown thing. in fact, i recall sikhs being interviewed after infamous riots in britain against a "blasphemous" play saying the exact same things in regards to the nature of free speech which you usually hear from muslims and william donohue.

s, and I 'm pretty sure that if emmerich was to have included kabaa in the movie, that wouldn't trigger the fatwa on his head.

oh, of course. you're pretty sure. i'm totally reassured now, since i have it on your authority that it's all good :-)

Maybe we do not know much about the nature of Islam and Muslim, and thats why we are so afraid just about everything about them.

i think a lot of us know WAY TOO FUCKING MUCH ABOUT ISLAM. pardon my french.

Christians are used to being insulted and mocked. They just ignore it pretty much.

Monty Python, South Park, "Piss Christ" , the choclolate Jesus, Madonna, and so forth.

But if you demolish the Western Wall then the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque would presumably come tumbling down on top of it!

So Singaporeans, Japanese, New Zealanders and Laotians all feel the same way about emigration? It is rare to see such a poor representation of data outside a Tufte book.

That map makes no sense at all. It beggers belief to suggest more people want to move away from Canada (18%) than away from, say, Pakistan (10%).

A rather large number of people have already moved away from Pakistan and come to Canada.

"That map makes no sense at all. It beggers belief to suggest more people want to move away from Canada (18%) than away from, say, Pakistan (10%)."

It's clear that the percentages shown on the map are regional averages. After all, it'd be very weird if exactly all countries across the same geopolitical regions somehow showed equal percentages of persons wishing to move out.