Film Mania

31 March 2008

Film Mania

For months now our country has been ravaged by film mania. Much speculation, many media releases and hundreds of commentaries later, the film which provoked this is at last here – Fitna. Geert Wilders has succeeded these last few months in dominating the news [1]. Friend and foe must give him his due for this achievement, which demonstrates what is, for a politician, a skill of some importance.

An important aspect of this domination of the news derives from Wilders' excesses. Not only an assimilation contract for newcomers, but a demand that they give up the nationality of the country from which they come. Not only a halt to Muslim immigration, but a ban on the Koran. Provocation, insult and the spreading of fear amongst people also form parts of his core competences. He seems indifferent to the effects of his actions. In short, with Wilders you are never bored.

But on this occasion there was no excess in my view, of the kind that so many people have seen in Fitna. The Koran is not torn up in the film, but a page from the telephone book. In addition, he displayed a succession of already well-known images of shocking crimes and a number of twisted idiots waving their swords and calling for jihad. All of this tarted up with newspaper cuttings and warnings to the viewer. As the grande finale we are shown a picture of the Netherlands twenty years from now. This is scandalous.

The core of the message is that Islam represents a grave danger for the Netherlands. This is what Wilders wants to demonstrate in his film, as he has proudly informed the media. It's five to midnight, in his view, and our democracy and freedom are under threat. Just like those idiots in his film, he sees everything which doesn't fit his worldview as a great danger against which struggle must be waged.

The film is pure party political propaganda, in which Wilders classes all Muslims and people with a Muslim background together, linking them with religious radicalism, terrorism, violence, repression, and a mediaeval culture of barbarism. He uses the film to create anxiety about and feed prejudices towards these groups and between the different groups of people in the Netherlands.

A recent survey conducted by the television news programme EénVandaag showed that 44% of respondents were of the opinion that the whole affair was a case of much ado about nothing. Yet it also showed that a majority, 56%, is indeed anxious about Islam. Given the developments in the last few years, including the pre-Wilders era, this is hardly astonishing.

Anxiety, however, is a poor adviser and we must certainly avoid provoking anxiety towards our fellow citizens. That is the challenge for the future, with or without 'film mania'.

[1] Geert Wilders is a far right Member of Parliament, leader of a group of nine MPs who call themselves the Freedom Party (PVV). He is behind the making of the film in question.

You are here