In Roland Emmerich's upcoming multi-billion-dollar boondoggle 2012 (a date from which Mayan scholars have already distanced themselves, unfortunately, since the whole plot hinges on a "Mayan prophecy" that the world will end in that year), the director decided to film a scene in which the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio is destroyed, citing his belief against "organized religion."
Interestingly, though, he lost his nerve when it came time to follow through with filming the destruction of another sacred site of organized religion: the Kaaba -- that cube-shaped shrine that sits at the heart of Mecca. Explains Emmerich: "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 [sic]. 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."
Seems as though Emmerich doesn't quite have the strength of his own convictions, which seem to rise and fall with abstract threats of violence. What a pansy. If you're going to come out against organized religion, fine -- just be consistent. I find this of a piece with the recent and controversial decision by Yale University Press, also fearing a fatwa but publicly citing vague "security concerns," to expunge reproductions of the cartoons involved in the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, along with all other images of Muhammad from a scholarly book entitled The Cartoons That Shook the World by professor Jytte Klausen. The fact that the book's author sought only to report on the controversy from a scholarly, disinterested viewpoint, presumably, carried no weight with the review board of YUP.
Should this come as any surprise, given the Reign of Terror that political correctness has exerted on freedom of speech on American college campuses over the last twenty-five years? Why not just succumb to the threat of terrorist reprisals on American academic's freedom of speech under the free-floating mandate of "tolerance and diversity"? We tolerate their intolerance. Or so goes the thinking. But with Emmerich, it seems more egregious. I guess we should expect no less of any mainstream Hollywood director, as Christian-bashing has become so de rigeur lately that to speak out against it would bring about a fatwa of its own – being socially ostracized. For Hollywood's elite, that might be a fate a shade worse than a public beheading. Speak out against the defamation of Judeo-Christian faith in Hollywood these days, and you can almost hear the mass "de-friending" taking place on Facebooks all over town. It's happened to me numerous times. (That's before I de-friended Facebook.)
It might be tempting to lump Emmerich's assertion in with Larry David's egregious prank of "accidentally" urinating on a picture of Christ in a recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but as an astute journalist for the London Telegraph, Michael Deacon, observed: "...Larry David frequently fills the show with jokes about Jews and Muslims. In the first episode of season one, his character offends his agent's Jewish parents by joking about Hitler. In episode three of season four, his character arranges a date for a male friend with a Muslim woman – then recoils in horror when he sees that the woman, without her veil on, is hideously unattractive."
So, despite surface appearances to the contrary - and perhaps because of them - David has, unlike Emmerich, proven himself to be a reliably consistent bull in the china shop of all religions. It's funny, arguably, because it's in the service of his character. While I don't exactly love David because of it, I at least admire his brass pair in spreading the abuse out evenly and equally risking the consequences. Perhaps the German emigre Emmerich (director of such colossally expensive flops as Eight Legged Freaks and 10,000 BC), who sets a task for himself no less than destroying the entire world in 2012 -- what a macho director! -- could learn a lesson in integrity by tuning in to watch to the misadventures of a Jewish guy from Brooklyn faux-pas'ing his way through life.