December 18, 2001



Here's a fascinating run-down of Egyptian pop culture's love-hate relationship with America, Western values, and good old fashioned common decency. It seems like it's mostly "hate" in all three categories: the mini-series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ("Horseman without a Horse") is a dead giveaway, as is the hit song "I Love Amr Moussa, I hate Israel." Not to mention this:

A hit comedy made in Egypt last year, "Saidi at the American University," is about an ignorant peasant coming to the big city. Featuring the comic star Mohamed Heneidi, the film pits simple, honest, Egyptian values against the arrogant, decadent values of the West, represented by the American University in Cairo. In the film, the peasant's values prevail after being tempted by Western style clothes and the free market claptrap of a U.S.-passport-carrying professor. In the culminating scene, there is a moment, always cheered by audiences, when Heneidi's character rebels and burns an Israeli flag, jumping on it and giving a Nazi-style salute.

Like I said, mostly hate. But there is also the occasional voice of reason, even when Egyptian pride is at stake. The article reports on an official debate over whether the government should censor the film "The Mummy Returns:"

There were serious objections, and the film was nearly rejected because of a scene in which Brendan Fraser flees an Egyptian bathroom because it is so dirty.

Archaeologist Hawass was there and defended freedom of expression. "First," he recalls arguing, "our bathrooms are dirty, and we should clean them."

A good first step...

"And second, if the world thinks Egyptian bathrooms are dirty, we should know this."

Forwarned is forearmed...

The conclusion: "if we don't like it, we should make a better film ourselves." Hear hear. A film about how clean middle eastern bathrooms can be would be vastly preferable to that Protocols thing. And it shouldn't be too hard to make a better film than "The Mummy Returns."

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 18, 2001 08:18 AM | TrackBack
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