Arts

Why Is Banning “Much Loved” The Best Thing Ayouch Could Have Hoped For?

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Amidst heated debate, the ministry of communication has decided to stand on the side of the critics of “Much Loved” and ban the screening of the movie in Moroccan theaters. Ayouch said he was “shocked” to receive the news, but he should probably be happy as the ministry did him a huge favor.

Apparently, universally acknowledged truths exceed a man’s want for a wife to a want for anything that is banned. Human history is rich in examples that illustrate this claim. For instance, the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. during the 1920’s did the country more harm than good. On the other hand, legalizing Marijuana in the Netherlands has been proved to be a healthier choice.

Therefore, banning the screening of “Much Loved” is the most powerful and effective advertising campaign Ayouch could have dreamt of. This ban will certainly generate unprecedented interest in the movie and widen the circle of debate to larger scales. It will also make people even more excited to watch “the movie that scared the ministry!” especially that the ban isn’t based on solid grounds and many people think it was just a response to the public outroar.

Furthermore, it is inevitable that people will find ways to watch the movie just the way they managed to watch banned movies and read censored books before. The highly-wired world we live in, and the accessibility to different media outlets make it really challenging for governments to conceal information, unless North Korea is a role model that we’re looking up to!

Worrying when you put that way, right? But what’s even more worrying is that the ministry decided to ban a movie that they had allowed to be made and filmed in Morocco and with a (mostly) Moroccan team! So, to think that all of these points have gone unnoticed by the ministry leaves much room for interpretation… and WORRY!

Thus, due to this “banertisement,” Ayouch has now become the most famous movie director in Morocco. The ministry has now given him something to brag about and present himself in the image of the liberating hero of Moroccan cinema. In fact, many Moroccans with libertarian mindsets think of him as a hero who should be celebrated. To these people’s joy, Ayouch’s film was invited to premiere at the acclaimed Cannes festival in France. This event didn’t go unnoticed as many of the movie’s supporters interpreted it as a triumph of art and freedom of speech over oppression.

So, Ayouch has now become a renowned director at an international level thanks to a) his gift as a director, and b) the ministry’s gift of baning his movie.

In short, if the ministry is afraid the movie would give a bad image about Moroccans, the ban isn’t going to help alter that image, either. So, instead of thinking of Morocco as a country with many prostitutes, foreigners would now think of Morocco as an oppressive country that doesn’t tolerate freedom of speech and arts. sounds better now? Naah, it’s a lost war!

Ranting About the Rants About “Much Loved”

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Even though I have been trying to keep my mouth shut on the topic, there was a time when I felt a need to have my say on Nabil Ayouch’s “Much Loved.” So, although I know that this post will probably get me more hatred and cynicism than respect and empathy, I just can’t resist the urge to voice my opinion on this matter.

If there’s anything my father taught me as a kid that I could never forget, it was the fact that we can’t judge a book by its cover. Now, what can be said about books can also be transferred to other areas where many people find it comforting to spit out their judgments before they even make informed opinions about those matters. Ask any university professor about the usefulness of making judgments and coming up with conclusions without carrying out any type of research, and you’d probably be asked to review your primary school materials!

With this in mind, I just can’t figure out why so many people are angry because of “Much Loved.” I find it very appalling that people from different walks of life are jumping to conclusions about a movie they haven’t even watched! Making judgments based on leaked out excerpts is the same as reading a few passages from a book and coming up with conclusions and judgments about the book and its writer. Just unbelievable!

In general terms, bashers of Nabil Ayouch’s movie base their opinions on many assumptions, the most recurrent of which are as follows:

  • The movie gives a bad image of Moroccan women
  • The movie encourages sex tourism
  • Nabil Ayouch is supporting and is supported by a foreigner agenda
  • The movie is a threat to our identity and religion
  • We should keep our problems to ourselves
  • etc.

None of these reasons are valid. If we’d find it odd that a movie that addresses education isn’t filmed within the confinements of educational settings, then why would we find it insulting that a movie about prostitution is filmed in casinos and whorehouses? The problem here is that most Moroccans are used to discourses where “la langue de bois” reigns. Thus, most people were shocked to see a film using the language that many Moroccans use on a daily basis. Oh, the irony!

Furthermore, what most critics fail to understand is that the movie is not representative of EVERY single Moroccan woman. The movie deals with prostitution and sex tourism, and it has, thus, limited itself to that particular context. However, people seem to forget that a movie, just like a novel, should be seen under the light of its context.

Taking these points into account, I don’t seem to agree with people who claim that the movie encourages sex tourism. It’s actually quite the opposite. “Much Loved” could be an eye-opener and a call for action so that we put an end to this phenomenon. Sweeping our problems under the rug and turning a blind eye doesn’t exempt us from our role in addressing these controversial issues.

As for those who claim that the movie represents a real threat to our religion and identity, I can’t but think that their identities and religious beliefs are weak already. If a movie succeeds to alter one’s beliefs, then the affected person didn’t really have any belief in the first place. Therefore, one has to be either ignorant or hypocritical to pretend that this can be regarded as an argument against the movie. Moreover, times change and it’s difficult for some people to embrace that change. For instance, in the recent past, men couldn’t accept the idea of women working outside. They saw that as a challenge to their status and presented arguments such as “a woman’s place is inside her house,” while others went to greater lengths by claiming that working women is the sign of the nearness of Doomsday! I think it’s all about NOVELTY. New things scare us, but shouldn’t we have learned from the past?

Finally, playing the “foreigner agenda” card has always bugged me. Most of us try to shift responsibility by putting the blame on other people and circumstances. Many of us justify failures by external factors that might, or might, not be responsible for those failures. On the other hand, very few of us face their problems and try to work them out the way they should.

To cut it short, prostitution, like many other social ills, is rampant in our country, and being in denial won’t do us any good because for a problem to be fixed, it, first, needs to be diagnosed and analyzed. If one has cancer but is in denial, the cancer doesn’t fade away, it just gets stronger and stronger.

PS: I know many will say that the cancer that needs to be eradicated is Ayouch and his likes. (Me included? I hope not! 🙂 )

Café/restaurant Les Artistes, Rabat.

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Les Artistes is a small but beautiful space in Rabat where you can enjoy food, photography and painting at the same time.

Reading Several Books At Once.

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STUCK!

“Stuck” is the word to use when all you can do to face your inability to cope with your several readings is goggle your eyes. Books of different shapes and languages are scattered around you, and they only accentuate your dilemmas about what to resume reading first. Is it this book in French by that very prominent sociologist, or is it this one in Arabic by this great Egyptian novelist, or maybe you should continue reading either one of those three English novels you started last week…

A Stuck Reader

Finally, you make up your mind and grab either one of those books. However, somehow, the words get blurry and the characters start jumping from one book into the other as if they were circus artists doing amazing confusing stunts! 

You might still want to focus. You’d probably start pondering about the merits of every book and author at hand for some minutes to make a final decision. But if you’re like me, you’d most probably just grab the remote and watch Mr. Bean, instead.

Is this really your idea of enjoying reading? If your answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing, and stop reading this post right now… NOW, I said. If your answer is no, then what follows might be helpful.

Hereafter are some pieces of advice you might want to consider:

                • Do not read several books at once:

Yes. I think that for people like myself, we just cannot commit to this kind of relationships. So my advice to you is to take it slow. One book at a time shall do you good.

What we need to understand is that we’re different, and so are our abilities. Reading several books at the same time is not a healthy practice for some people. Some others can do this but some others can’t. This doesn’t imply that my breed are stupid, or that people who can read many books at once are smarter, it just means that we have different skills and intelligences. So, don’t feel bad about it.

(What?… I heard that! And no, I’m not just comforting myself?)

After all, the only good thing about being able to read different books at once is that you can switch books if you get tired or bored. However, the cons of this practice outweigh this single advantage.

  • Do not mix languages:

If you’re going to read many books. Like, if you really really have to, make sure that they’re in the same language. Reading books in different languages at the same time is confusing, especially if you’re a fast reader in some language(s) but a slow reader in other language(s). You’ll make much more progress reading in the language(s) your fluent in, while you’d be lagging behind in the other language(s), which might stir some dissatisfaction and might, in some cases, lead to low self-esteem, depression and then, suicide. Just kidding, but you got the point!

  • Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it:

Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Choose the time of the day that fits you best and plan your readings accordingly. Some people prefer to read at nights, other people prefer to read upon waking up. Don’t forget to make use of your free time and weekends, too.

  • Prioritize:

Some things in life are more important than others, so are books. Start with the book which you have a strong and fresh desire to read, when you get tired of it, try the next book you’re looking forward to read. You should always have interest in what’s between your hands, otherwise, the reading experience would be ruined.

  •  “Prioritize” doesn’t mean ignore:

 If you leave a book for too long, you’d probably forget everything about it. Picking it up again would be kind of meaningless. Hence, if you feel that one of the books your reading isn’t as interesting as the others, leave it for another reading set, or just drop it altogether, but don’t feel compelled to finish it. This will only increase your anxiousness, and we don’t want that, do we? DO WE?

  • Use a timeline:

A notepad and a pencil would be very helpful. Track down the ideas, characters and events of the book. You can add your feelings, expectations and questions about the book. It’s also important to make sure to read your notes every time you want to resume reading, it’ll freshen up your memory and put you in the right mood for that particular reading.

  •  Read (a) whole chapter(s) every time:

Don’t stop in the middle of a chapter. If you do, you’d probably be lost when you resume reading. Think of this as watching a series, what would you rather do, stop watching at the end of the episode and wait for the new one, or stop in the middle of the current one?…There you go!

  • Real readers love challenges:

Eat you broccoli, finish your dish! If you start several books and don’t manage to complete anyone of them, the effect will be very counterproductive. So, go on and finish your books, at least some of them. The feeling is really satisfying, believe me. Remember that if you don’t, you’ll probably have a very low self-esteem, depression and might commit suicide. Just kidding again, but you got the point!

  • Join Goodreads.com

Goodreads is a great reading carrefour. People write reviews and send updates about their readings. You can set up an annual goal and work on achieving it. A little competition would never hurt.

This, dear bookworms, is what I can think of for the moment. I’m sure you can have many other ideas on how to accomplish this task. So, please feel free to share them in the comment section. 

Happy reading, everyone!

“Orientalism;” An Ongoing Discussion

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If there is anything I appreciate about the Internet it’s its power to eliminate distances. Fortunately, I could make use of this powerful treat offered by the Internet in one of my most valuable experiences. This unique experience is nothing but my amazing ongoing discussion of Edward Said‘s “Orientalism” with my American friend.

Edward Said

Even though we live in totally different places, my friend and I communicate on a daily basis and we always manage to discuss different stimulating topics. So we thought of taking our discussions to the next level and read a book together. Thus, I chose Edward Said’s “Orientalism.” This choice was partly because I’ve always heard of it and wanted to read it, and partly because I knew it contained very interesting and debatable topics that both my friend and I would enjoy.

Ok let’s face it, the writing style is obtuse. Also, It takes some knowledge in different fields to be able to fully understand Said’s words. He can hover over a variety of topics such as history, politics, culture, media, anthropology, literature, epistemology, etc. in one or two pages. Furthermore, sometimes, I feel as if Said takes it for granted that the reader is acquainted with some references and allusions, which can be an additional burden on the shoulder of the non-specialized reader.

On the other hand, what my friend and I are enjoying about this book is the fruits of our discussions. You can think of Orientalism as a “discussion stimulator,” and a thought-provoking starting point to our in-depth talks. Therefore, we always end up with very interesting discussions that help us better our understanding of the American as well as the Arab mindsets.

Our talks make us view issues from different perspectives. Therefore, many of our lingering questions have finally been answered. Many assumptions have been altered, and many fallacies corrected. Thus, I’m now starting to see how Americans REALLY view us, and vice versa.  I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have learnt more about America and Americans since I started reading and discussing this book than I had done in my entire life. My friend, too, made it clear that she has come see things from a different angle and from a fresh perspective, and that she has learnt a lot as well.

I think that what we appreciate about this ongoing discussion is that we both accept each other’s opinions and points of view no matter how distant our stands are. No one is claiming that their way of looking at things is the best, and no one is ridiculing the other’s views or opinions. It’s a friendly discussion with a special interest in mutual understanding.

I wish we all opted for dialog instead of surrendering to preconceived ideas and stereotypical views of the other. I think a lot of the world’s tragedies would have been avoided had those in power resorted to dialog. However, I believe that hope will still be glowing at the end of the tunnel as long as there are people willing to talk, discuss and open their minds.