the story line at the beginning of this story was that a guy who went by ‘sam bacile’ has posted a trailer to a movie about the islamic prophet muhammad on youtube and as a result, ‘spontaneous’ protests popped up in various locations throughout the middle east.
on september 11, 2012, as a supposed part of these protests, the ‘united states diplomatic mission’ and after that, a ‘safehouse’ or ‘annex’ came under attack by ‘protestors’. as a result, and as visible in a video i’ve seen and the pics i’ve posted here, the united states ambassador was killed. some reports have him being tortured, even raped just before death. and all this happened on the anniversary of the september 11, 2001 attacks in the united states.
i put several things in quotes above because i do not know the truth. i cannot find definite reference to a ‘united states diplomatic mission’ in benghazi. i can find the consulate on google maps, but i have read both terms used, and i do not know if they are one and the same. or where the ‘diplomatic mission’ might be located. additionally, the locations of safehouses is supposed to be extremely secret, and the definition of an ‘annex’ is really vague. so, if a lot of noisy, dangerous stuff was going down and an ambassador or some staff decided to hustle to a ‘safehouse’, short of being followed, some of us might wonder how that location would be known to a group of simple rioters.
but here is ambassador stevens in pictures – dead or very near dead. some of the details of his death might not be so important. but the fact of it is one of the few that can’t be denied.
initially they said it was in response to the movie, although reports since i first drafted this article say that the attacks might have been orchestrated, pre-planned.
knowing the facts, especially in this region with this kind of activity, is not such a simple thing. just the other day, it was revealed this many months later that it wasn’t the ‘revolutionaries’ in libya that killed leader muammar qaddafi after all. no, instead we find out that it was french intelligence that assassintated him, likely to cover up their complicity in some dirty dealings they had with gaddafi – and on top of it all they were aided in this by the assad regime in syria. the shit gets deep and stacked high in the middle east. so when our government or the media speak so authoritatively and so early about the goings on over there, i always feel like we’re just being sold a story they want or need us to believe.
and in this case, the general narrative they’ve tried to sell is that this was all an angry response to a you tube video titled alternately innocence of muslims or the real life of muhammad.
the ‘movie’ seems to be really just a trailer. i’ve read about a public showing, in socal, but haven’t seen a report from anyone who has seen the full ‘film’, just someone reporting seeing the poster for it. the people who took part in the filming – both actors and crew, disavow it now. they say they were duped by the producer. the trailer uses a lot of overdubbing, so they may very well have been.
i’m going to post the ‘offensive’ video below. it’s awful film making, even as a ‘trailer’ for a non-existent movie.
as a wannabe movie-maker i’ve often had the idea to make this or that trailer for an unmade film – just to get financing, to show tone and what the movie would be like. but this thing is so silly, awful and blatantly stupid that the idea that it inflames anyone makes me feel like the uproar is somehow a false noise.
the filmmaker is purported to be nakoula basseley nakoula, or mark basseley nakoula. he is supposedly egyptian born and a coptic christian. i’ve also found him described as a soft-core porn film maker. this might be just smearing him. what i find the most interesting about this story is how little people actually KNOW about him or the fact of the attack in libya, and the nature of the protests around the world.
what is known about him is that at some point, he was in the gas station business. in the late 90s he was found with a bunch of money and some chemicals and was charged with conspiracy to manufacture meth.
he’s supposed to be a coptic christian, in a wing of the church notable for their public displays and protests. i am not able to accurately summarize coptic christianity now, but some arms of that organization seem downright creepy and truly subversive. i’ll post about them later.
at the time of this controversy, he was on probation for bank fraud involving opening many accounts with different aliases and social security numbers. it was part of a larger scheme, and he was sent to prison. upon his release, he immediately set to making this ‘movie’.
does any of that sound goofy to you? where does he get his money from? who gets out of 2 years of prison to make a movie that can’t possibly make him any money that will likely piss off a bunch of people?
nothing about this guy or this story feels like it makes sense. that doesn’t mean it isn’t all as it appears…. but so often how it appears is a small part of the bigger picture.
below are the few images i’ve been able to find of this guy. he seems like a crook and a phony.
let’s talk about someone real. someone who made a real film that exposed some unpleasant truths about islam, and paid a price that this guy is currently being shielded from. his name was theo van gogh.
the pic below is iconic to me. it is theo van gogh, laying on the sidewalk, with a knife sticking out of him. he was murdered in amsterdam by mohammed bouyeri, who got life for the attack.
theo van gogh was singled out because he made a 10 minute short film called submission, which is the simplest translation of the word ‘islam’. it featured an islamic woman in an often see through burka. starkly photographed, she tells the story of what is typical for many muslim women: subjugation, second class citizenship, and even sexual victimization at the hands of her brother in law. it’s a simple film. it may or may not be an ‘accurate’ depiction of life in a strict muslim house in the middle east, i do not know for sure, but did it merit his death? does any expression of art merit that?
i adore film. i hope to make it my life before i give up on things altogether. but i know certain things about film. chief among these is that all films are lies. so what?
after the attack on the consulate, i posted on twitter that we should all make animated and/or real porn films featuring depictions of muhammad. ok – it needn’t be porn. instead, have muhammad eating bacon, maybe dancing with another guy. but basically, we all create some visual manifestation or representation of muhammad doing something distasteful. not to protect this nakoula asshat, but just to protest FOR freedom of speech – even empty speech. they can’t kill us all, can they?
and maybe the point would get to some that the shadow isn’t the thing that cast it – that mockey or simple depiction isn’t the thing it mocks or depicts, that it’s a representation. and that expecting the world to conform to your moral and spiritual point of view is not religion, it’s a form of psychosis.
many on the religious right and the secular left in the united states could take a lesson on this point, too.
below, a still from theo van gogh’s film, submission:
after a few weeks of noise, they arrested the ‘film maker’ of the innocence of muslims trailer. not for making the thing, but for using fake identities and other such nonsense related to violating his probation.
every picture i can find of this guy nakoula is him wrapped up like a skin patient on his way to the icu. what’s that about? his pic is out there, although it takes some poking to find. if he’s not acting on someone else’s behalf in all this, why hide? why not stand behind his work? he’s no salman rushdie, who is a great writer. he’s a hack. no shame in that. i’m a hack on this blog.
and i remind him and all of us that theo van gogh didn’t hide. he was murdered while riding his bike into work to edit a film.
below, you can watch theo van gogh’s film submission in it’s entirety.
if anyone wants to murder me because of this blog post, i’m not that hard to find. the whois info leads right to where i’m sleeping.
this isn’t so much a documentary as it is a collection of clips. still, because i was always a huge spalding gray fan, i could and will watch it again and again. this was my third viewing.
spalding gray did monologues. these are kind of like one man shows where he recounted stories from his life and often would interview various people, famous and not famous. he would just ….. talk. he was a true genius, a tortured soul, a bit of a miscreant but all-in-all and interesting and decent guy.
i remember back when he died, i was running a news-based website. i posted this article, which is not easy to read because the website it’s hosted on has so many pop-up ads. it was written while he was still missing, and just ‘assumed’ dead. as it turned out, he had killed himself by jumping off a ferry in new york city.
spalding gray was a great writer, a good performer and a decent actor.
his life was put off track in 2001, when he and his wife were broadsided in a horrible car wreck in ireland. he never quite recovered, and it was enough to sour him on existence altogether. but before that, and in between becoming aware enough to adorn his own ideas to the stage, he spun yarns and created works that informed a generation of young writers, film makers and story tellers.
he is the type of persona that the average person might know little about, but i assure you – the writers and people who do fill your lives with content are all blissfully aware of this strong, quiet genius.
i loved spalding gray and i miss him. the film features a wonderful piece of music or two from his son, which accompanies the trailer below.
crispin glover is kind of an oddball. at least he’s made his career playing mostly oddballs. hearing him speak, he doesn’t really seem very oddball, though. he seems like a normal, artistically minded person trying to make his way in a business that can often be decidedly unartistic at times, given the accounting involved.
i can’t decide if his oddball nature is a persona or his bona fide self. i guess it doesn’t matter.
anyways, he was in town screening the first two films of his IT trilogy. i had seen the first film, what is it? previously and opted to only sit through the second film, it is fine. everything is fine!
what is it? is a film featuring a cast of characters with down syndrome. the second film, it is fine. everything is fine! features steven c stewart, who had cerebral palsy. so far as i can tell, the handicapped nature of the cast is the only real connection between the two films.
what is it? is a surrealist film that doesn’t follow a traditional narrative. there is a boy with down syndrome who is the subject. there are parallel worlds depicted that comprise different parts of his personality.
the fact of his down syndrome is never referenced, though many other characters in his apparent actual life and his inner life do live with this same condition, but others do not.
he really likes a pipe and snails, although he destroys several snails throughout the course of the film.
calling the film what is it? seems almost a gag played on the audience. like bunuel’s un chien andalou, making sense of it in a truly thematic or linear way is pointless. bunuel stated later that he and his collaborator, salvador dali, intentionally discarded anything that made ‘sense’. they put only the irrational and surreal in the scenario, and did not seek to create something of a singular theme (except perhaps, decay). in fact, the same musical cue from the pivotal moments of bunuel’s surrealist masterpiece are used in what is it?, also. but the conceit of pretension is that some people will struggle to find a theme and merit to the goings on – and this, for some people, makes something automatically of artistic worth.
even though it’s just over an hour long, what is it? takes a kitchen sink approach to trying to offend: naked women wearing animal heads and crawling about, a naked handicapped man falling off a throne, a nude shirley temple juxtaposed with nazi imagery, etc. it sounds edgy but it feels pedestrian. it’s not offensive, it’s just off putting. i didn’t find it interesting in any way save for the fact that i was seeing it. it just didn’t feel like it had anything to say and no real importance besides ‘this was made’. i’m glad it was made, but i’d never want to sit through ‘it’ again.
it is fine. everything is fine! is more like a proper film. it is from a script by it’s star, steven c stewart.
stewart lived in utah and was an early handicapped activist, along with his beloved mother. she fought to get him to be able to attend regular school. he had an extreme case of cerebral palsy.
then she died and he was put in a nursing home for 10 years. he was still a young man. he was there from ages 20-30, essentially. he was surrounded by old people on the verge of death. his mind was fine, it was just his body that failed him. he watched a lot of tv and fought to get released.
he was a fixture around salt lake city in the 70s. he would be on the news fighting for this or that handicapped issue, and could be seen around town, pushing his wheelchair backward with his feet. this is how co-director david brothers came to know of him. a documentary was made about him, which i am unable as of this writing to find.
and it turns out steven had written a script based on the hour long tv detective shows he had watched so many of. it involved himself, playing a man who meets an age appropriate woman at a party. she immediately is taken with him and can instantly understand his speech, which to some was often unintelligible.
after some courting, he asks her to marry him. she declines. he gets her to agree to another date. on that date, he kills her by choking her. he then takes up with her teenaged daughter and after a sexual encounter with the girl, he kills her, too. eventually he kills a prostitute, a big-busted girl he meets at a party and her roommate too. and on and on.
the script, and this film, don’t really go anywhere except to show the same scenario a few times over.
one particular sex scene is totally graphic, showing oral sex and penetration. i don’t know why this was necessary. it didn’t feel like it served anything.
the film ends with another murder. and that’s all we get to go on.
at the end of the film, there was a q-and-a session, as is normal for presentations of crispin glover’s films. this one seemed to go long, because a girl in the front was disturbed by all the seemingly exploitative sex that served no narrative purpose. glover, in the end, kept repeating that he liked that the film sparked so much debate. a guy at the back argued with the girl. it got tedious.
i had the same feeling i had as when i had watched what is it? i was just underwhelmed, extremely so.
i thought the idea of working from steven c stewart’s script was an interesting take. i thought that casting him was brave. and i thought the end result was childish and masturbatory.
i don’t think this film exploits women or steven c stewart – it just exploits crispin glover’s fame to get you to turn out for it. and he gets to play his best role yet – that of oddball artist who has this oh-so-tortured thing to say. after seeing him up close, i just felt like he is an art phony. or worse, he is a real artist who has nothing to say.
glover only shows the films, as far as i can tell, while he is present. he comes out before and does a performance piece where he reads from books to a slide show of stills from the books. the ‘books’ he’s done are just old books, often with neat pictures or text where he’s blacked out and added to them in some way, altering the story. it’s at first interesting but i found it quickly dull, though my friend was somewhat taken with his presentation of the book called ’round my house’.
after the book presentation (the books of course are for sale after in the lobby), he shows the film. each film is over a little over an hour long. after that he does a q-and-a session with the audience.
he seems to say a lot of the same things in these sessions. if you look him up on wikipedia or imdb, the quotes attributed there to him you will hear in person, years later. i guess there’s not much new he can say. he repeats a lot of phrases within the session, falling back on them.
as i heard him talk i got a weird itch. i wondered why he will only show his films in this way. does he not trust the audience to digest the material properly unless he’s there to handhold us? during the session he said he wouldn’t sell the films to a distributor or release them on dvd because he didn’t want to give them over to business interests. but it would seem he could sell them on dvd himself.
i think they’d become cult classics, but perhaps not for the reasons mr. glover wants.
i don’t think he trusts the audience to appreciate the films in the manner intended, and after hearing him speak, i think it’s because he quite doesn’t know what he wants to say, besides repeating some mantra about taboos and people not being able to express themselves in hollywood.
to express yourself, though, it really helps to have something to say. i don’t think crispin glover does.
below is the trailer for what is it? before you click play, know that it contains nudity:
below is the trailer for it is fine. everything is fine. same warning as above, really:
so when the mugshot of james holmes was released yesterday, i instantly rememebered some pictures of old school porn star john holmes and asked my friend, steve jerman, to do one of his ‘mergings’ of the two men.
steve did this pronto, and that is pictured above. check out the mug shot that was released when viewed alongside an old pic of porn star john holmes, the juxtaposition of which made me think to ask steve to do this thing:
steve is a great artist. you should check out his book. below, a youtube video he made of the basic process.