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Old November 10 2009, 06:51 AM   #1
CoveSanta
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2012 (Film) and Religion

So there's an interview out with Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day and Day After Tomorrow fame, who is the director of the soon to be released 2012.

In case you don't know, the film is another of his typical planetary disaster flicks with lots of flashy special effects. In the film, along with tons of other destruction, there are several depictions of religious places and symbols being destroyed, along with the worshipers at the sites, all of them being Christian, primarily Catholic.

One of the depictions of destruction is the entire Vatican being destroyed and the Sistine Chapel falling on and killing all the worshipers. Another involves the destruction of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio. All-in-all, there's alot of destruction of Christian worshipers going on, but nothing of other religions, and that's apparently raised some eyebrows.

There's an interview out with Emmerich in which he says some, well, interesting things. Among those that caught my eye:

- Regarding why he chose to destroy the Sistine Chapel and have it kill the worshipers, Emmerech says: "We have to show how this gets destroyed….I am against organized religion" and "Never pray in front of a big church. Pray by yourself."

- On the more general topic of the destruction of the Vatican as a whole: "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."

- On why he chose to depict the destruction of the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio: ""Because I'm against organized religion."

- When asked why he showed only the destruction of Christian holy places and none from other religions like Islam: "Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit," Emmerich says. "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."

So what do you think? Is Emmerich attempting to push a point of view here? Is he being unfair in singling out Christianity? Is he being too politically correct in being unwilling to depict a Muslim holy place being destroyed? Is he in fact actually being insulting to Muslims to suggest that he would be in danger should he show a fictional depiction like that in a disaster movie?

Source:
http://scifiwire.com/2009/11/5-best-...012s-direc.php
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Old November 10 2009, 07:22 AM   #2
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

If he's that much against organized religion, you'd think a fatwa would be a badge of honour. Then again, these are people who riot over editorial cartoons, never mind large-budget live-action cinema--but hey, nothing says 'free publicity' like tantrums at the national scale.

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Old November 10 2009, 08:51 AM   #3
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

CoveTom wrote: View Post
Is he in fact actually being insulting to Muslims to suggest that he would be in danger should he show a fictional depiction like that in a disaster movie?
Not to get too TNZ here, but are you aware that more than a hundred people died after a Danish newspaper published a few racist cartoons? Also see the Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case and the Amsterdam murder of Theo van Gogh, not to mention Salman Rushdie. If he included those scenes, the question would not be whether a large number of people would be quite happy to see him murdered but if any of them would actually have the resources and determination to make an attempt on his life.

Yes, Emmerich is unfair to single out Christianity, but while he could certainly afford the personal security costs that similar Islam-based scenes would reasonably necessitate, those scenes could very easily turn into an international media and political nightmare and incite some very real violence, leading to very real death. I suspect that 2012 is a sick and crass movie, but there's no question that, pragmatically, Emmerich made the right call.

(It is ironic, however, that the plot of the movie relies upon pseudo-religious hokum. One would think that that could have tipped him off to the worthlessness of the project - but then, it does stand to make him ludicrously rich, again.)

I myself would much rather see an honest, historically credible biopic of the Mohammad that (gasp!) showed his face, but Lady Fortune gives us scenes of the Vatican (which not to get too TNZ here or anything, is sheltering an American enabler of child rape) crumbling instead. Ah well...
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Old November 10 2009, 09:14 AM   #4
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

CoveTom wrote: View Post
So what do you think? Is Emmerich attempting to push a point of view here?
Yes, but rather poorly. If in Emmerich films the destruction of religious buildings amounts to a religious statement, does this mean Independence Day was an anti-American film? The White House got zapped, after all. Maybe he's against big government too.

If there's going to be a huge Earth-shattering event, buildings - including and not limited to religious ones - are going to get blowed up real good. That's less of a provocation and more of an observation, though it's understandable that if the audience is supposed to get a visceral thrill out of these scenes (disaster porn, they're calling it now) then I guess that's that subtext... but, yeah.

I'm going to assume the 'big church' thing isn't meant too seriously. Your local house meeting of like-minded freethinkers of faith could also have the ceiling cave in on them, massive earthquakes aren't as discriminating about one's religious devotions as you might expect. So as rationales go that's nonsense, even by Emmerich's lenient standards.

Is he being unfair in singling out Christianity? Is he being too politically correct in being unwilling to depict a Muslim holy place being destroyed?
Maybe he's being politically correct in not showing any Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto religious buildings being destroyed (more likely the fact the audience wouldn't recognise any would be the reason), but his decision to not use Islam is clearly a skin-saving measure, and he's admitted as such. He'd like to show mosques crashing too but he doesn't want people - including himself - to die. Depressing perhaps that we live in such a world, but it's fairly sensible.

Anyway, it's an Emmerich movie. Even if critics hailed it as the next Citizen Kane, an instant masterpiece of style, function, form, effect, acting and writing whose directorial deftness and augur-like majesty have set an ineffable new standard of brilliance and elevated the disaster movie to an epoch defining-artform... hm. No, crap, I'd definitely want to see that.

But it won't be that because it's an Emmerich movie.
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Last edited by Kegg; November 10 2009 at 10:49 AM.
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Old November 10 2009, 09:14 AM   #5
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

wait, don't you remember the teaser? With the Tibetan guy ringing the giant bell as the giant Tsunami is about to engulf the Himalayas. Granted not a blatant religious symbol, but I think still an equal opportunist of taking a shot to the religions, other than just Christianity, in a not so subtle manner.
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Old November 10 2009, 10:39 AM   #6
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

Is Emmerich attempting to push a point of view here?
I doubt it. He may have come up with the lame answer of not liking organised religion because he was asked about it, but I think his only criterium in making this movie is 'blowing things up real good'. Be it the Vatican, the White House, the pyramids or whatever. I don't suspect Emmerich of bothering with any well-considered points of view in his movies.

Is he being unfair in singling out Christianity? Is he being too politically correct in being unwilling to depict a Muslim holy place being destroyed?
Perhaps he is unfair, although it sounds more like a result from his cowriter's urge not to blow up any Muslim places. Emmerich would not have been unfair. He'd just have blown everything up.
It is a form of political correctness, though, even if thatw as not Emmerich's first choice. The media are fine with destroying anything Christian, while other religions are often protected from defamation of any kind, because that is the political correct thing to do. This is just one more example.

Is he in fact actually being insulting to Muslims to suggest that he would be in danger should he show a fictional depiction like that in a disaster movie?
Maybe it is insulting, but it is not without reason. There is a very real risk of him or the studio being in danger if they blew up, say, Mecca. We've seen it all too often in the past years. There may be angry Christians, but I doubt that a significant number of them would wish to murder Emmerich or blow up the studio.

Personally, I don't much enjoy seeing the Vatican destroyed, but on the other hand: this is a dumb disaster flick. Should I really bother taking that seriously? I think not.
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Old November 10 2009, 08:00 PM   #7
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

I think if he had any sense of humor he would show Mecca surviving as an asteroid in space, after the buildings and everything survived intact with people milling about.

Would this apply to any other show that shows earth getting decimated?
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Old November 10 2009, 08:51 PM   #8
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

He'd probably get his head cutoff with a dull butterknife -- or scimitar if he showed Mecca being destroyed...Islamo-radicals get real sensitive about stuff like that.

They kill for it. I'm pretty sure no director wants to be in that line of fire.

It amazes me how people walk on eggshells for certain religions and others are considered fair game -- intentionally or not.

But I'm for equal opportunity destruction -- blow it ALL up! LOL!!!
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Old November 10 2009, 08:59 PM   #9
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

It was like how Comedy Central censored the South Park episode that depicted Mohammad (doing nothing really) yet that same episode had Jesus Christ taking a crap all over the American flag.

An abortion doctor is killed by someone against abortion, and it's a representation of what's wrong with all of Christianity and Catholicism. A suicide bomber kills himself in a public place and takes a dozen people with him in the name of Allah, and it's called one fringe lunatic who doesn't represent true Islamic beliefs.

That being said, if Emmerich blew up Mecca, he would become the next Theo Van Gough.
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Old November 10 2009, 09:01 PM   #10
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

Aragorn wrote: View Post
It was like how Comedy Central censored the South Park episode that depicted Mohammad (doing nothing really) yet that same episode had Jesus Christ taking a crap all over the American flag.

That being said, if Emmerich blew up Mecca, he would become the next Theo Van Gough.
Exactly...tasteless is tasteless though. But, you're right...Emmerich would probably be either "Van Gough'ed" or (Salmon) "Rushdied"...in short order.
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Old November 10 2009, 09:14 PM   #11
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

I guess that with Sistine Chapel they actually mean Saint Peter's Basilica.
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Old November 10 2009, 09:22 PM   #12
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Old November 10 2009, 11:53 PM   #13
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

Oddly enough it's OK to blow up the whole frakking planet, as long as you don't show certain parts of it being destroyed.

Q: ...and 400 years before that, you were murdering each other in quarrels over tribal god images.
Q was waaaaay too optimistic.
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Old November 11 2009, 01:56 AM   #14
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

He should have shown the Tom Cruise in the Church of Sciencetology being sucked into a fiery lava pit.
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Old November 11 2009, 04:38 AM   #15
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Re: 2012 (Film) and Religion

Going waaaaay too far!

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