Hassan Nasrallah and the Barbies

 Nasrallah, barbies and the Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab together, are a good explosive mixture to blow up her own exhibition. To see what’s it al about look first at  the main explosive culprit, the picture titled “”American-Israeli playground”:

American-Israeli playground
American-Israeli playground

 And here is the story, I quote, ..” The exhibition “Sense,  and Sensibility”, her first photograph exhibition, opened at an art gallery in downtown Beirut. It wasn’t long she had toasted the opening  that problems began to arise. The exhibit illustrates Eastern and Western concepts and Arab perceptions of the West in a catchy, and to some quite kitschy or even distasteful way.”, see here.

LEBANON-ARTS-ENTERTAINMENT-CENSORSHIP

The morning after the exhibit opened, last week, November 6-2008, at Beirut’s Planet Discovery, an event attended by over 200 people, including diplomats and representatives from Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture, the venue owner demanded that the artist remove images thought too provocative.

 “Sense, Icons and Sensibility”
“Sense, Icons and Sensibility”

The image that sparked most controversy, Saab’s spokesperson Nasri Sayegh said, was a photo titled “American-Israeli playground”, which shows Christ on a crucifix surrounded by photos of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and undressed Barbie dolls in the background.

 Saab’s spokesperson continue, I quote…”Several photos at an exhibit by Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab have been removed because they were considered too controversial by the owner of the exhibition space. ‘Fear is the worst kind of censorship,’ “, see here.

Jocelyne Saab, the artist, called her exhibits …”neo-pop art: Digital photographs illustrating ideas of the East, the West and globalization with striking images of lurid commercial detritus. Not only does Barbie run – sometimes bare-breasted, sometimes fully veiled – through the images, she is joined by political and religious memorabilia depicting Hassan Nasrallah and Jesus Christ.”…see here.

Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab
Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab

 In an interview with AFP she explained that …””I wasn’t looking to provoke or shock anyone. … This piece symbolizes a cemetery and says that Americans and Israelis use us as a playground. It is a call for us to be vigilant and to cohabitate rather than a call to divide and insult.”…see here.
 
The website Now Lebanon has called on the country’s Ministry of Culture to step in and reinstate Saab’s photos, see here.

barbie_185x185_430820a101

BTW, in Israel, Jewish fundamentalist ultra orthodox Haredims, banned the picture of Kadimah leader and FM Tzipi Livni from their newspaper because she is a women. I quote, …” ‘Graphic artists will blur the faces of women that do make their way into pictures that the papers want to use. ‘They will also blur pictures of television sets or other..”,  see here. So, here is the same “Barbie” mixture: put together Tzipi Livni a secular women and an orthodox jewish newspapers, and the result is a religious censhorship on a perhaps future prime minister of Israel….The middle age blurred by Photoshop..

livni

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Adam Sandler in Egypt and Israel

Adam Sandler in Egypt and Israel and the 80 lashes of movie director Enad El-Dighaidy.
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 The  movie,”You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, see here and here  starring Adam Sandler stirs up the ban ponds in Egypt and other Arab countries. It is hard to believe that in the era of web 2.0, when there is no hidding from the Internet-torrents-P2P and other media resources, that a ban can conceal a movie in the unseen unheard or unspoken. 
Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler

Now the ‘Zohan’ is a ludicrous movie about a Mossad agent.The whole storie is about laughing and having fun at the expense of-and in some way, ridiculing the Israeli intelligence establishment:

…”Pic, in which Sandler plays a former Mossad agent who escapes to New York and ends up working in a Palestinian-American woman’s hair salon, has been banned by censors in Egypt, Lebanon and the U.A.E.

‘Zohan’ has already been released in Israel through local distrib Matalon, where it has been one of the year’s biggest hits bringing in over 200,000 admissions. ‘There wasn’t any controversy over the subject matter,’ says company topper Amnon Matalon. ‘Israelis like to laugh at themselves.’

While censorship has eased slightly across the Arab world in recent years, a number of subject matters remain taboo. Anything attacking religion is generally a no-no everywhere in the region, while sex is a problem in the more conservative Gulf states, although not an issue in socially liberal Lebanon. The country, for example, was the only Arab country to allow the theatrical release of Sex and the City.” see here

Adam Sandler and Emmanuelle Chriqui
Adam Sandler and Emmanuelle Chriqui

Well to ban a movie about the Israeli-Arab conflict, even though the film’s makers insist it is not biased and claiming: “We’re equal opportunities offenders.” is nothing new. But look at what is really going on in Egypt on this very issue of religion, sex and politic.

I quote here from the article “The curse of the Hesba lawsuits” ( from the Libanaise site Menassat):

“Egyptian courts are being flooded these days with so-called ‘Hesba’ lawsuits targeting outspoken writers, film makers and poets. According to Islamic law, anyone can file a Hesba lawsuit if they believe God has been insulted. But some suggest that money, fame and political repression play an equally important part in the recent rise of Hesba cases.”

So not only Israeli movies are targetst of bans and other harrassements . Egyptian domestic art makers are ‘welcome’ victims of the same stratagems.

…”The latest figure to get tangled up in the murky waters of Hesba law suits is movie director Enad El-Dighaidy, whose film, Diaries of a Teenage Girl, has attracted the wrath of an attorney affiliated with Egypt’s ruling NDP party.

The unnamed lawyer is said to have vast experience in Hesba lawsuits and has asked the Sheikh of Egypt’s highest religious council, Al Azhar, to punish the female director with 80 lashes for defaming the country.

Sources told MENASSAT that the same lawyer has sought similar punishment against an Egyptian actress who appeared unveiled in a film”….see here forthe full article.

What in the plot of the ‘Diaries of a Teenage Girl’  upstiers the ‘imagination’ of the Hesba lawsuiters: 

Tunisian actress Hind Sabri and director Inas al-Daghidi
Tunisian actress Hind Sabri and director Inas al-Daghidi
        …”Inas El Deghidi, one of the most fearless directors in Egyptian cinema today, tackles issues affecting Egyptian women in a populist and non-doctrinaire manner. Her film takes us into a girl ‘s private life of boys, parties, friends, and more boys. The tragedy in the film starts with premarital sex, which leaves girls unsuitable for marriage. Hymen restoration is one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery performed in Egypt—everybody does it, but nobody talks about it. Breaking this code of silence brought El Deghidi condemnation from Egyptian moral pundits, but also popular success. Tunisian actress Hind Sabri stars as the innocent Gamila, who imagines herself Cleopatra seeking love from her Antonio. Her wild, spoiled friend Nancy schemes to destroy them. Behind this romantic teen melodrama, El Deghidi encodes a critique of the whole system of sexual relations in Egyptian society. “Egyptian society does not permit women love, emotions or errors. The man has all the rights. I want to deal with this paradox.”—Inas El Deghidi. (115 min) see here.
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Western audiences will find the teenage girl’s dreams sweet, romantic and a little callow. Ah, youth..But in Egyptian cultural currency this is indeed worth 80 lashes.. For more of this ‘currency’ see here

Emmanuelle Chriqui ("Zohan" with Adam Sandler)
Emmanuelle Chriqui (