As everyone now knows, violent protestors in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan and elsewhere are demanding the ban of a low-budget, 14-minute film called “Innocence of Muslims,” produced in the US by people with little power and less of an audience. A version of the film was previously screened back in June at the Vine Theatre in Hollywood, CA – to an audience of 10 people. That kind of attendance would doom most any Indy effort, but the producers of this deliberately insulting trifle, which many Muslims feel is blasphemous, were determined to incite an audience. And they knew just where they could make an impact. They worked hard to get the film into the hands of what Malcolm Gladwell might call influencers (in this case clerics, etc.), who duly influenced – regrettably linking the execrable intentions of these obscure filmmakers with the far better intentions of the country in which they are resident, a tragedy of misinformation. Now the film, which hardly deserved its original ten attendees, has been viewed more than 9.2 million times on YouTube.
There’s a term for this kind of unintended consequence: it’s named after the Hollywood legend Barbra Streisand. Blogger Mike Masnick of Techdirt coined the term, The Streisand Effect, after the actress tried to remove from a photographer’s website a photograph of her Hollywood house taken without permission . When the cameraman wouldn’t acquiesce, she sued him and the case went public. Before the lawsuit, the photo had been downloaded only six times from the website (two of those by her attorneys). In the month after the case was made public, more than 420,000 people visited the site.