Welcome to the new soapbox. You may or may not like what you hear.
Events across the Muslim world in the past week and a half, with angry protests leading to multiple deaths, have only underscored how easy it is for anyone with a camera to send the world a virulent message. All this over “Innocence of Muslims,” a buffoonish, cheap-looking video that insults the prophet Mohammad in the most juvenile manner imaginable?
Believe it and get used to it. It is easier than ever to get a message, innocuous or incendiary, in front of the world’s eyeballs, whether through movie theaters that used to play only Hollywood releases or by taking one’s case to YouTube.
“Innocence” is one of two recent — and radically different — developments that illustrate the new accessibility and potential impact of partisan media. Right-wing pundit Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016: Obama’s America,” a documentary that parses what the filmmaker believes is the president’s hidden agenda, has grossed $32 million in movie theaters since late August, making it the most successful conservative film in box-office history.
“2016” is serious, if one-
sided, filmmaking; “Innocence” is crackpot hate-mongering at its most wretched. Neither work, one could argue, would have enjoyed wide distribution only a half decade ago, nor would the many films now streaming online and unspooling in theaters that play to core constituencies while hoping to create converts. They include Christian movies like last year’s “Courageous” ($34.5 million in ticket sales), this year’s prolife drama “October Baby” ($5.3 million), and the patriotic barn-burner “Last Ounce of Courage,” an impassioned defense of Christmas by writer-director-star Darrel Campbell that’s currently in limited theatrical release.
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