Thursday, March 30, 2006

I went out to karaoke night in Mohandiseen last night and had a pretty good time, but for lack of much else to say, here's a little rant.

Christian convert case: Cheap political ploy serving Bush?

This is a priceless moment from Al Jazeera. Try this on for shoddy logic:

Some analysts, explaining the political implications of bringing up the issue of Abdul Rahman at this time, although he converted to Christianity more than 16 years ago as said in circulating media reports, they attributed that to Mr. Bush’s need to show the world that his mission, to spread “democracy”, now failing in Iraq, has actually succeeded in Afghanistan, once ruled by conservative Taliban regime.
Woah, there. Sorry, but who was the one who "brought this issue up" 16 years after Abdul Rahman converted? I think it was the people who were about to execute him, not Bush. This is a common trick in the Arab press, I've noticed: mention the issue of timing, and then hope the dimmest readers will fail to see that the timing doesn't even compute with the implied conspiracy theory. You'd have to be pretty dim to fall for this one. (Notice that nowhere does the article say outright Bush engineered for Abdul Rahman to be arrested to begin with. That would just sound like a silly conspiracy theory, eh?)

Speaking of silly conspiracy theories, I saw Syriana two nights ago -- the midnight showing at the Odeon cinema just downstairs from me. Why it took me this long to discover the midnight screenings at the Odeon -- just as I'm about to leave Cairo -- is beyond me. Then again I only just discovered karaoke night, too.

Anyway, I thought George Clooney's character was about the saddest and loneliest guy I've seen in a movie, ever. (Where were his wife and kids? They were referred to but never seen.) And I'm liking Matt Damon more and more now that he's taking on international-man-of-mystery roles. But in the end the film depended completely on its political message, and the political message was foolish and naive: omniscient and all-powerful American intelligence, in cooperation with the energy-industrial complex, is up to no good blowing up Arab reformers. There are plenty of negative things you could in a film about American foreign policy, but that the U.S. assassinates too many Arab reformers isn't one of them. (In fact, I thought this movie implicitly suggested we may have killed Rafiq Hariri, which is pretty odious.)

I wondered the same thing wathching Syriana here in Cairo that I wondered when I saw Crash at a crowded bar in the Christian quarter of Damascus: Does the average viewer in this part of the world see these films and think, "Wow, America must be really fucked up if even the Americans are making movies about how fucked up it is"? Or do they think, "Huh, funny how there are no Syrian or Egyptian movies about how bad our government is."


Anonymous Jeff said...

I got the impression that if anyone was an inspiration for the guy that got killed, it was Mohammed Mossagdeh. The script was probably done well before the Hariri incident.

I really enjoyed a lot of the "political" movies this year as movies - Munich, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana and even Crash - but they caused not an original thought.

5:51 AM  
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