In perusing this year’s biggest movie controversies, we found ourselves discussing matters a good deal less trivial than last year. Make no mistake, there are some tempest-in-teapot situations here: ratings woes, questions of reappropriation and hagiography, and (god help us all) frame rates. But we also grappled with issues of artistic responsibility and racial representation, and with the ongoing question of the very health of the form itself. Join us after the jump for a stroll through the year’s memorable movie controversies, won’t you?
Innocence of Muslims
The year’s most controversial motion picture screened exactly one time, on June 23, at the Vine Theater in Hollywood. The film’s writer/producer, “Sam Bacile” (the non de plume of Mark Basseley Youssef, aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), rented out the theater for the single screening of his film — then carrying the even-more provocative title The Innocence of Bin Laden — and it ran for an audience of about ten people. In the pre-Internet age, that might’ve been the end of the strikingly inept motion picture; instead, “Bacile” uploaded 14 minutes of video clips and trailers to YouTube in July, which we subsequently dubbed into Arabic and aired on Egyptian television. Protests and violent demonstrations across the globe followed suit. For his part, “Bacile”/Youssef/Nakoula — already on probation following a 2010 conviction for bank and credit card fraud — was sentenced to a year in jail on four charges, including lying to his probation officer and (yep) using fake names.