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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Get them while they are young

A lot of people- me among them- in the middle-east claim that arabs are losing the culture war with the west because we are illprepared with out own cultural alternatives. When it comes to movies, music, fashion or whatever, the western countries seem to be able to kick everyone's ass in the department of exporting cultures. The protectionists- among the arabs- would always complain about the good old days when "music meant something" and " movies were good" and frown upon today's music and movies and quite naturally morals. I am not a protectionist by any means when it comes to the arts or cultures, but rather a purist. I am from the school that if a culture can't compete with another in terms of values, presntations, richness and salesmanship, then maybe it's time for that culture to whiter away and die. Not wanting that to happen to middle-eastern culture-egyptian in specific- i always lamented that if we could learn from western countries and borrow some pages from their playbook, then we would be able to bring our cultural beliefs into the 21st century and have it repackaged in a way that would hold an appeal to the younger generations and allow those beliefs and values to survive.Oh how I wished that some people would take the first step and produce something that would combine the packaging and salesmanship of the west and the ideals of the middle-east. The old saying that reminds you that you should be careful what you wish for? I hate it when it rings true. I seem to have gotten my wish, in a really twisted way, in a media forum i really didn't think about: Comic Books. Let me introduce you to AK comics ( hat tip: Jesse), which promises "Middle-east Heros" to its readers. It holds 4 differnet characters with 4 different universes in publication: Rakan, Jaila, Zain and Aya. In the words of the people who created the comics they are "four characters are destined to become the new household figures and their names will be synonyms for peace, justice and pride in the Middle East. Each hero is a unique blend of traditional, modern and futuristic qualities that symbolize and represent the Middle East nations." Sounds nice, no? Well it depends on how you look at it. Take for example Jaila: she protects "the city of all faiths" from the evil "Zios" army. Get it? City of all faiths? Zios army? wink wink nudge nudge.Ohh yeah, and Jaila parents died in the "55 years war" and she has two brothers, Raed and Khalid (hey jeff, jarrars anyone?), one of them became a drug addict cause of his parents death, and the other joined a terrorist group for the same reason. Gotta love the hidden moral of that story. If that is not enough for you to get what i am trying to note here, then you might agree with the view that maybe it's just a coincidence that almost every villian in those comic books holds a western or english name. For example:One of Rakan's enemies is Ripper; Jaila's archnemesis is called "Atom";Aya enemies include Donga and José Darian. Isn't that nice folks? I think it's just dandy. But hey, who knows, maybe it is a positive step after all. I mean, besides getting the kids when they are young and planting certain- let's say- "ideological seeds" in them, those comics might actually get some people who might not be so ideologiclaly driven to produce their own brand of comic books. One that doesn't have westerners and foreigners as the prime enemy for "Middle-eastern" heros. I know it's an almost non-existant silver lining, but it's all that i got for now. Oh well...

6 Comments:

At 3/16/2005 06:18:00 AM, Anonymous Highlander said...

Is that telepathy ? that was going to be my next post sandmonkey lool ;)

 
At 3/16/2005 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Tina said...

LOL, we have more in common than we thought. I, too, remember when movies used to be good and used to project our values. Now the movies are so bad most Americans don't even to see them. Hollywood makes far more money on their movies in Europe than they make in the US.

Actually, there is an Iraqi film producer who is excellent! He made a documentary on Saddam that was so artistically beautiful that you can only imagine what kind of movies he will some day produce.

Hang onto your hat Sam, the middle east is about to bloom!

 
At 3/16/2005 08:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Sam,

I think that the pictures we've been receiving from Lebanon these last few weeks have piqued a lot of interest in at least one ME culture. That's because of the attractiveness, and joyfulness of the demonstrators.

The purple fingers of the Iraq voters were also unforgettable images.

The image of the ME that has been presented to the world is that of angry young men and crazy mullahs. Who wants to see any more of that? I mean, I cringe when I see Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith, but they're better than those guys at the pro Syria rally by a long shot.

When ME governments loosen up and stop controlling the message, your image will improve.

Bridget

 
At 3/16/2005 08:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Sam,

I think that the pictures we've been receiving from Lebanon these last few weeks have piqued a lot of interest in at least one ME culture. That's because of the attractiveness, and joyfulness of the demonstrators.

The purple fingers of the Iraq voters were also unforgettable images.

The image of the ME that has been presented to the world is that of angry young men and crazy mullahs. Who wants to see any more of that? I mean, I cringe when I see Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith, but they're better than those guys at the pro Syria rally by a long shot.

When ME governments loosen up and stop controlling the message, your image will improve.

Perhaps Baghdad will become the Aliwood of the ME, what do you think?

Bridget

 
At 3/16/2005 09:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans think Hollywood is horrible these days. There is a whole movement in the US to change that but so far they are not listening. It doesn't reflect the values of most Americans.

I have had four European exchange students. All four said to me that America is not like what they saw in the movies or tv...especially my French student.

I would suggest to you the odd fact that Hollywood now feels like cultural hegenomy of an alien culture even here in the US!

 
At 3/18/2005 02:12:00 AM, Anonymous DWMF said...

About those comics...

I wouldn't worry too much about the stereotyping of the villains as westerners. When I was a boy, I was a big fan of WW2 comics, and so were most of my friends. They portrayed the Germans as the most dreadful goose-stepping, boot-stomping, sausage-guzzling, Heil-Hitler-saluting morons. We knew that it wasn't true, and read those comics purely for enjoyment.

It really hasn't affected me. I think. I like to think so... :-)

 

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