This post was originally published on September 14, 21012, shortly after the deadly attack on the United States consulate on Benghazi.
The attack in Benghazi was a terrible tragedy for those personally involved, the US Military, and our country as a whole. Unfortunately, I feel like the tragedy has been exploited by irresponsible media and partisan political strategies carried out by those who care more about benefiting politically themselves than the pain the tragedy has caused so many and the people who actually died.
In keeping with the basic message of the original post, shame on these partisan exploits that use video to twist an emotional event into a false reality that serves as propaganda and political venom.
The most credible news sources to date have documented that there was not a scandalous trail of deceit and gross incompetence by anyone in the State Department or the White House. Rather, this event was a tragic, but relatively predictable response by terrorists who despise the United States and seek vengeance for our many attacks on their compounds and communities.
Perhaps the poorly-made video The Innocence of Muslims inflamed these terrorists further, perhaps it didn’t. I have read seemingly credible sources giving both accounts.
In my observation, the main point now is not the irresponsible original video maker and an audience that overreacted, but the right wing political forces aided by an irresponsible news media who have exploited this tragedy to slam their political enemies and paint them as incompetent, perhaps even evil jackasses who should be voted out.
It makes me sad that such a large swath of the American population has actually fallen for this political manipulation. But that’s another blog post I will probably never make. Please do not assume from what I have just said that I am any kind of die-hard supporter for Hillary or Obama because I am not.
Now here is my original post, with the original movie trailer at the bottom. It is enough to get the gist of how campy the video production techniques are.
COMMENTARY ON INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS VIDEO
The world is aflame right now due to a low-budget video made by a deceitful character who lied to everyone about what kind of video he was making and why.
I am speaking of course of the anti-Islamic video that’s sparked riots in the Middle East titled, The Innocence of Muslims.
It was made by a man who has so many aliases no telling who he really is. According to reports I’ve read on CNN and other news sources, he lied to the people he hired to help him make the video.
I am writing this post to not only condemn his despicable actions, but to remind all videomakers to be RESPONSIBLE with the very powerful tool of video.
As a longtime video maker, I have witnessed the incredible power of video dozens upon dozens of times in my career. While this is an extreme case, it does not surprise me one bit.
No matter what kind of video you are making, be aware of the fact that the impact on the viewer can be quite profound. Use the power wisely or put the camera down.
VIDEO MAKING MUST BE DONE RESPONSIBLY
Video is one of the most effective methods of persuasion ever known.
Have respect for the power of that video camera in your hands.
Don’t use it to mislead, incite violence, or anything else nefarious.
If you’re making a documentary, check your facts, double check your facts, and then make sure everything is presented in a fair and balanced way.
If you’re making a commercial, please remain truthful.
It is becoming obvious that the maker of this anti-Muslim film wanted to stir up trouble. How dare he be so cavalier?
BE A RESPONSIBLE VIEWER TOO
I also want to take this opportunity to remind people who view any video to take it with a grain of salt. The Muslim community seems to be incapable of doing that.
Many people have condemned what they see as an overreaction by the Muslim community. I certainly agree with that. However in this case, I’d bet money the filmmaker knew the population he was dealing with and his film was designed to actually provoke this reaction. If he did not know, then he is monumentally ignorant and I find that level of ignorance to be unlikely.
IMHO, if he indeed wanted this reaction, I think it should be considered criminal behavior and he needs to be prosecuted. He has blood on his hands. There are limits to free speech and inciting violence on purpose goes way beyond free speech.
If this was indeed purposeful incitement (and that is only speculation at this point) then I would look at the video as being a more of a weapon, not just speech.
Just as you can not yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, you should not be able to produce a video to purposely provoke riots and bloodshed. That’s incitement.
MALICIOUS INTENT OR JUST PLAIN STUPID AND IRRESPONSIBLE?
Just like libel laws hinge on a concept of “malicious intent,” so too, I believe, does this video and its maker’s culpability. Why was this video really made? Who paid for it and why? Did they know its true intent? Actors have come out and said they were lied to and thought the movie was going to be highly different that it actually turned out to be. Is that true for investors as well?
Why did the video maker feel he needed to lie to all the actors and crew members? That right there tells me he knew few would go along with his real plans.
When the video didn’t get any traction on YouTube, it was translated into Egyptian and run on Egyptian TV. That is when the sh** hit the fan. Why did they go to that expense and trouble? They obviously wanted the masses to see it. Why? Because they wanted to educate Muslims? I doubt it. That effort seems to be further evidence they were seeking a huge reaction because only an idiot would not expect a violent reaction when a movie like that plays on TV in Egypt.
I believe this is potentially much more than just a free speech issue. Free speech in America is one of our most valued freedoms. With free speech comes responsibility and some people fail miserably in this category. That is something we in America have come to accept, not so with the rest of the world.
I’ve heard comparisons of The Innocence of Muslims made to the hateful rhetoric of the Westboro Baptist Church, who protest at the funerals of fallen vets because they believe America is on the decline due to homosexuality. The Supreme Court has upheld their right to do that as free speech, although no one in their right mind would agree with what they say. I think that analogy falls short because there is much more to making a full length video, getting it funded and on television, than a handful of religious extremists hope on a bus and go to the nearest funeral.
Again, it goes to the INTENT of the videomaker. If, and I think this is a big if, he is just an irresponsible idiot, that’s one thing. If he and his group of backers intended for this reaction, then I feel it should be labeled a crime. In that case, they are using video as a weapon, not as a method of speech. Granted, it could be difficult to accurately ascertain their motives but if it can be proven that it was to produce violence, then that video should be condemned and some sort of accountability should result.
Now that I have chastised the video maker, let me give equal time to the video viewers who so grossly over reacted it makes me wonder about the sanity of humankind.
VIDEO VIEWERS STOP AND THINK
If you see a video that offends you, stop and think for a minute that the video might be unfair, untrue and not worth reacting over.
Your reaction is what gives the video power.
Today’s world is loaded with people and groups trying to persuade you. Video is often their vehicle of choice. Stop and think what their motivations are for producing the video they have. Do they want to sell you something? Get you to vote a particular way? Get you to like or hate somebody?
Consider the source of the video and their motivations in making it before you respond to it. Realize that the goal of many videos is to manipulate you in one form or fashion. Don’t be easily manipulated. I wish the Muslims could grasp that point. Seems simple to me.
My mom always used to warn me to not believe everything I read. Let me alter that to say don’t believe, or take seriously, every video you see.
For more information on the deceitful practices used by the makers of this video, here is a CNN story and a CNN video
For an article supporting the contention that the video makers knew the reaction the video would get, go here.
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.
P.S. The video making techniques of the movie are horrible. The sound quality is awful. The lighting is bad. The chroma key looks hopelessly fake. The acting is awful. There is nothing good about this movie. Below is the trailer. It’s nearly 14 minutes long. No trailer should be that long! Two minutes, tops!