Friday, 28 November 2008
Last week I had the great fortune of watching the Jean Rouche film, Moi, Un Noir. Jean Rouche, an ethnographic-filmmaker from France has, I believe, over 90 films out but they are very difficult to get on DVD with subtitles in English. If you are fluent enough in French, you are lucky to be able to enjoy his movies with less trouble than others.
The reason why I like Rouche so much is because he brought Cinema Verite, which coincided with the French New Wave cinema, into the realm of ethnographic film. The film, after its end, leaves viewers with a few more questions than they anticipated at the start of it. Throughout the film our main character is flirting with girls, hanging out with his fellows and selling textile/fabric on the street - he, in fact, looks like he's living quite a pleasant life style as a refugee in 1950's Niger. (Which is where the Rouche-ian charm plays a big role). Being a French speaking young man, and in fact well travelled, he is able to live his life under a guise that may or may not - depending how one would see it, being "happy". But what does this happiness mean in a midst war and displacement?
Though Rouche's ethnographic/fiction style adds a bit of romanticism, humour and even melodrama - left with us, in a sense, due to the juxtaposition of the situation and reality, and due to the way that the main character narrates the film, giving himself a "cool guy" tone all throughout. The viewers, in my opinion are left with a bit of sorrow, worrying about what the next step for our friend, the main character, may be in the little city of Treinchville.
Big Brother has never been the type of program that I would ever get into in any way, except maybe as a case study - as most things I have an aversion are probably good case study material. But today, my opinion of the show has broadened - that doesn't mean that I like it or started to agree with the "on-goings" of the program, but speaking to a visual anthropologist about anthropology and TV, this program came up as did others in the "reality show" genre. Putting a bunch of strangers (with extreme view points and personalities) in one house where they are being watched constantly by a very big anonymous audience is considered (arguably, I suppose) an exercise in anthropology. It is a test at how their behaviour will develop, what can and will happen. Of course, in this show, it exaggerates the "ugly" side of humanity where the people will inevitably either claw at each other or have sex. Is that the survival of the fittest genes coming out, pure animalistic urge - or is it pushed in that direction by the producers in the way they have chosen the people who will ultimately stand to entertain millions of viewers?
In either case, my thoughts on the "case study" was definitely satisfied, but my anthropologist friend's view point definitely broadened the way I see this program.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
So i've finally started my first paper, and I am really excited about it. My love for the comic book medium is going to be entering my course. The 99 are a band of super hero teen-agers, the book is based on the 99 attributes or names of Allah. It is a young, Kuwaiti entrepreneur's was of responding to the vilification of Islam in the world media, the way he sees it - and I agree - is if we, the able Muslims, don't do anything about the way the religion and culture is being portrayed, then who will. Moreover, there will be no room for complaints.
My paper, though, goes into other areas. After reading some Oliver Roy, Benedict Anderson and Edward Said, among others, I have presented my question about what the community actually is, how malleable is that notion, and whether or not the idea of the "identity" over rated. The use of globalization in the case of The 99 has annoyed some people, made them question why something that is meant to be Islamic is using a predominantly American style or medium. Personally, I am a fan of fused medium - thus my appreciation for Turkish dub and Lebanese Jazz - I like to see lines blurred, not only is that a fresh approach, in my opinion, but one that is more accessible.
More on that as my paper develops.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
I wonder, though, how much the EDB (Economic Development Board) has paid for this campaign. It seems that there has been a well planned push for tourism and development in the Gulf countries. There was a Gulf tourism expo in Olympia last weekend, there was a 6 page spread on Bahrain in the Financial Times, and of course - all the cab ads. Yesterday I saw a "one way to Muscat" cab, but these Business Friendly Bahrain cabs have been increasing every month.
I took this picture from the pub, I was lucky my phone had memory in it.
Unfortunately, the Pavilion is already gone, so I was only able to enjoy it for that one day, but there were plenty of people around it.
In contrast, though, to other years, this Pavilion didn't have the same kind of pockets of pragmatism as the previous years' structures do. It didn't have a similar practicality. Usually, they will incorporate a way for it to be more enjoyable for the public, to be able to sit down and pass the afternoon there, while this one seemed to more suitable to be looked at. Perhaps thats the difference in getting the big-name architects to do one here, they tend to create something that loses the groundedness. It becomes a work or structure of art, one that a name can be pinned to rather than the annual designer seating area in the park.
It was enjoyable to look at nonetheless, and as i said above, the glass and light wood combination did give a nice feel to the sunny day, but it wasn't inviting. I ended up going to South Kensington (not by any means my favourite place to go) for a drink rather that do the usual and stick around the Pavilion for the little bottle of white wine with my friends.