In the Netherlands, there is a raging debate about a movie nobody ever saw. It seems that images have become so powerful, we don't even need them anymore to scare the hell out of us.
The movie we're talking about here is Fitna, a supposed populist right-wing comment by politician Geert Wilders on the upcoming Islam in Europe. The debate is centred around the question wether the dutch government should forbid Wilders to broadcast his movie. There's a lot to be said about this, but I don't want to go into the political side of this story.
What interests me, is what this whole thing says about the position of the image in our society. As we know, images have increasingly become part of our value determining cycle. In the recent past, we have faced examples of how images (i.e. a movie and a series of cartoons) have become the centre of a big debate around the issues freedom of speach vs. freedom to insult, the position of religion in our 'enlightened' society etc.
The symbolic outdated the physical
The interesting thing about these examples, is that a lot of people (or say, muslim fundamentalists) never actually saw the products they so passionately condemned. The symbolic value of these products seemed to be bigger than their actual message. But still, we were talking about things you could actually see with your own eyes. If you'd want too. Now, we face another episode in the history of the global image economy. Images no longer have to be visual. The symbolic outdated the physical and rendered visibility obsolete. The image becomes a product of symbolic torture by degrading its viewers to hostages in a global sphere of fear.
The thing is, nobody actually knows if this movie is really being produced or not. The best thing would be if the whole thing would be a hoax. To be honest, I am secretly wishing Geert Wilders would stand up and say: "Hey guys, it was all just a joke. I never even held a camera in my hands". This would be a big practical joke and would probably leave more people contemplating this stupid discussion then when it was OR was not released. Don't agree with me? Watch out, or I'll shoot a movie to harass you! Love and peace or else...