November 9, 2005
Do We Have to Be That
Sensitive? Or Fearful?
got upset about a "bad" word. They demanded it be taken
out of the title of a movie. The word is "Muslim."
a break. Do we have to be that sensitive? Or fearful?
is "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World." The writer
and star of the movie, Albert Brooks, says he made the movie because
he was concerned that, in the wake of 9/11, Americans hated even
the word "Muslim." "A part of me always thought,"
Brooks said, "what are there, a billion-and-a-half Muslim
people on this planet, and I never thought that all of them wanted
he could put his professional skills -- he's a comedian -- to
work on the problem. "I thought, what could I do to make
a movie in . . . my style to sort of soften this subject."
himself given a special assignment by the U.S. government: "Maybe
the only way to really understand somebody is to see what makes
them laugh," he is told. "Go to India and Pakistan,
write a 500-page report, and tell us what makes the Muslims laugh."
about that? The movie is a comedy about humor and cultural differences.
Brooks performs his stand-up routine in India:
is there no Halloween in India? 'Cause they took away the Gandhi!"
"I steered clear of religion in this movie. There's no mention
of the Koran -- the whole point of the movie is looking for comedy,
not looking for God. I was allowed to film in the biggest mosque
in India, and when I told the imam the plot of the movie, he started
liked the movie, too, Brooks told me, and planned to premiere
it last month. "Posters were made, trailers were made, and
then about three months later, on a Monday morning, I get this
phone call, we can't release the movie with the title."
came shortly after a Newsweek story claimed that soldiers
at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran down the toilet, and rioting
broke out in the Middle East. It turned out that the Newsweek
story was wrong. They retracted it. And it turned out that the
rioting may have been a previously planned anti-American demonstration
that had nothing to do with Newsweek's story. But Sony's
president still said he wouldn't release a film called "Looking
for Comedy in the Muslim World."
Hollywood used to make lots of big-star, big budget movies about
Arab terrorists, like "Executive Decision," "Rules
Of Engagement," and "True Lies" ... but not after
Sept. 11. Tom Clancy's best-selling novel "The Sum of All
Fears" is about Palestinian terrorists, but Hollywood morphed
them into European neo-Nazis.
the rules of political correctness are very clear: No one's allowed
to associate Muslims with anything bad. Even "The Siege"
-- which said repeatedly that Muslim American leaders were patriotic,
featured a heroic Muslim FBI agent, and put more emphasis on a
federal elite inattentive to individual rights than on the threat
of terrorism -- was the victim of an "educational" campaign
by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "The Siege"
dared to say that a few Muslims are, in fact, terrorists.
And it came
out before 9/11.
Sony won't even use "Muslim" in a title. Even CAIR doesn't
object to the movie, although I bet they'll object to this column.
Los Angeles Times points out that Sony is the same company
that pushes movies packed with crass materialism and sex, films
that are much more likely to offend Muslims than Brooks' film
to ask Sony why its sleazy movie "Deuce Bigelow, European
Gigolo" is good to release, but "Looking for Comedy
in the Muslim World" wasn't, but they wouldn't talk to me
Warner Independent Pictures has agreed to release the film with
its title intact.
Brooks: "Have you gotten any pressure from Muslim groups
about the movie?"
to the contrary." he said with a big smile. "Last week,
we were invited to have the world premiere at the Dubai Film Festival."
JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate