Sam Bacile is a false name that may go down in history, although hopefully for causing a shake-up at the Screen Actors’ Guild, and not political repurcussions that go any further than they have already.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is what most would describe as an inflammatory filmmaker and now blatant-to-the-world propagandist whose paltry existence has unfortunately come to light due to a thinly-veiled, discriminative political trailer that mocks many key ideas within the religion of Islam.
If you’ve not seen the trailer yet or Chrome is ‘SafeSearching’ for you already, I can at least give you a few sneaky spoilers. The first one being: the full film hasn’t been released yet, and Hezbollah’s already said they’re gonna go SICK when it does.
Two: the Innocence of Muslims trailer gives away no plotline. Seriously. It has no concept of camera focus either, contains badly-timed editing (apparently cutaways actually mean you can just change the storyline completely without leading or resolving anything); and weird-as sound dubs which sound exactly like last-minute script changes that were made in a bid to somehow make the message more pertinent.
Three. It has a script which includes this non-tripartite travesty:Doctor: Man plus X equals Islamic Terrorist. Islamic Terrorist minus X equals man. Girl on sofa: But what is X? Doctor: You need to discover it for yourself.
There’s also a monologue of what we’re supposed to believe is representative of a Muslim, who says: “If my sick wife died today, I would sell the medicine, eat the food, and marry a young girl tomorrow.”
Not to mention this classic example of a false premise:
“I will make a book for him. It will be a from some version of the Torah, and version from the New Testament, and mix them into false verses,” – said by a gangly old chap who happens to be the cousin of Khadija, Muḥammad ibn `Abd Allāh’s wife. In the story, apparently she’s concerned about him talking to a donkey (in, again, another very badly edited sequence. However, when placed within the diarrhea-thread of a context within the film, this act of animal altruism actually makes me like their Muhammad character even more, simply because he talks animals and doesn’t consume them via his ears, just like this still:
…effortlessly displying the filmmakers’ TERRIBLE -nay- EMBARRASSING use of chroma key. Camels and Donkeys really do live together, and they really do walk through brains in a two-point perspective world. It’s closer to a sub-par episode of Hollyoaks, and as offensive as The Passion of The Christ was to Jewish people. The reactions to both appear to be the same across the board: lazy and abusive to some, and an example of infuriating, flag-burning ignorance to others.
And when news of Innocence of Muslims‘ devastating effect broke, it was believed to be the work of Californian real-estate developer -turned-director called ‘Sam Bacile’. (Indeed at the time of writing this there is still a YouTube channel of the ‘Sam’ name, and the account registers as a 75 year-old from the USA who joined in April this year. The channel has over 1,000 subscribers and the two trailers are still up there, although some Google searches says that the videos have been deleted. Google Pakistan and Afghanistan have blocked it.)
Sam Becile claimed that his film had been backed by Jewish film financiers.
Yet, Israel’s Foreign Ministry found no record of a Sam Bacile with Israeli citizenship.
CNN managed to snoop faster than the IFM and discovered the Screen Actor’s Guild paperwork from a production staff member, revealing it to be under the name ‘Abenob Nakoula Bassely’ – a Guild member registered at the same address as recently-released bank fraudster, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian working in LA who tricked charities into giving him film money.
Film is an exceptionally powerful medium. It allows us to soak up an experience through two and sometimes, three of our senses if we’re lucky enough to have them all. Film is a recorded piece of theatre; a collective of tales, characters and storylines which contain codes as well as dialogue; connotations as well as everything put-in-scene.
Dire consequences should be expected then, when, instead of making a mockery, one makes a mockery of film itself. Filmmakers definitely have more to be humiliated by than Muslims do. It’s our fault – films about freedom of speech, cheap DSLRs, Windows Movie Maker, desperate actors – our dreamscapes and shallow depth-of-field Vimeo-world has just created an excuse, apparently, for a bunch of deluded Coptic Christians who probably think the Knights Templar still exist to exacerbate international relations.
While Christianity is mocked all the time by Family Guy, The Simpsons, Jimmy Carr etc; this film really takes the biscuit/eucharist biscuits when it comes to satire. That’s because Innocence of Muslims, so far, doesn’t appear to be a satire. There’s no, y’know, (for example) let’s-have-a-laugh-about-Jesus but only within the safe confines of establishing, mocking and then re-establishing (within the joke) that Jesus is an ‘authoritative’ and ‘powerful’ figure that has disciples, etc.
When it comes to satirising Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and even Judaism, it’s more of a re-affirmation and a friendly poke, rather than this trailer’s attempt at humour, which comes across more like a poke in the eye with a flaming hot stick of shit, engraved with huge false premises like: ‘Only Muslim men could kill women! Muslim women are all slags!’ Really, guys. That IS Hollyoaks: ‘only people with mental health illnesses have problems with prescription drugs!’ ‘Fake nails are totally normal!’ – and THAT is why it’s offensive.
When the US is capable of delivering top quality films, even ones that at least have a much more hidden right-wing religious agenda (Walden & Disney backed Narnia, anyone?…) the trailer, “Innocence of Muslims” serves, quite rightly, to expose and shame any American who empathises not only with religious intolerance, but, REALLY CRAPPY FILMMAKING. Like, have you seen the little swords in the trailer yet? RIDICULOUS! They’re plastic and massively ill-researched. They would’ve been much larger and shinier.
Needless to say, the world’s right to protest. IOM had been languishing on YouTube since the 1st July this year and it wasn’t until over a month later that it was picked up by Arab and Egyptian TV stations, before being screened with an editorial on the 8th September. leading to a spate of protests, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador to Libya as well as three other Americans killed on the same day.
Just a reminder of why you should never make crappy films.
Jeremy Bowen, the BBC Middle-East correspondent, generalised the reaction as: “I’d say most pious Muslims do agree that the film was insulting.” He writes on the Corporation’s website: “Many don’t agree with violent protests. I hope our reporting reflects that.”
BBC News also states: “It was clearly put together on a budget, with a cheaply made set, amateur actors and poor production standards. It was shot over five days at a California film studio in August last year, with a cast of around 50, together with a large production crew.”
A large production crew who, I hope, will never get work in film again. I bet any 9-year-old with a laptop would know how green screen works better than these chumps.
And yet, on the flipside of free speech, the protests continue. From Lahore and Hyderabad, right through the Middle East and north Africa too; it seems that while many do not agree, the protests will continue until someone actually vetoes the full film from getting out. A Guardian article recently highlighted that ‘Sam Bacile’ may be just one of many. Eric Allen Bell is one who describes himself as an activist, openly making similar films and a self-published magazine. “I’ve put out YouTube videos which I think are just as offensive as the one which started all this,” he says. “I don’t plan to stop.”
In a lame and trifling attempt at sarcasm, Innocence of Muslims is not as funny and ridiculous as they were hoping. It’s funny and ridiculous for reasons outside of the filmmaker’s control.
It certainly makes the filmmaker and unfortunately, to much of the world, makes America look completely stupid once more…