NR Digital

Athwart

Media Matter

by James Lileks

Whenever talking about the YouTube video on which the riots were blamed, it’s important to note that it’s bad. Lousy acting, cheap F/X, costumes from the Halloween store. But what if The [title removed for fear 10,000 people will set themselves on fire somewhere] had been a really good movie?

The critics rave! “Breathtaking, revelatory, audacious, with the director’s trademark mixture of lilting wit and raucous smut.” Sacha Baron Cohen’s Oscar-worthy turn as a transgendered Zoroastrian who invents the Islamic holy texts to win the love of a gullible young man (Tom Cruise) is praised by all. Sixteen months after its release, a mob — on 9/11, by one of those “gosh, you can’t make this stuff up” coincidences — attacks the U.S. embassy in Tunis with such fury it manages to burn down the entire country, putting in doubt longstanding scientific theories about the flammability of sand.

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