What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you like the Middle East?

I saw a movie over the week-end that could be somewhat relevant to this blog, so I'm dropping here a few words about it. Body of Lies, directed by Ridley Scott, was a film I had high expectations of (right, I didn't bother watching trailers or reading reviews before going to see it). It was extremely disappointing. I just now realise that the novel that served as the basis for the screenplay came from David Ignatius. I don't know how loyal the adaptation was, so I'll just say the plot (and not only that) was stupid - saying so without assigning blame to anyone in particular for this.
There's one interesting dialogue towards the end. No spoilers here, just a (very) rough transcript of the thing:
"I will live here from now on"
"No way, buddy, nobody likes the Middle East."
"Maybe that's a problem, huh?"
This is seriously very bad. For one thing, there are enough people who do actually like the Middle East, and being Arab or Muslim does not have to be a co-inciding quality of theirs. For another, the movie presents Leonardo di Caprio's character as that of an area specialist CIA operator, speaking impeccable Arabic. Yet he never says more than a few words in Arabic, even when he is trying to win the heart of a Jordanian girl. Now, what message does that want to send? That Americans in general are not ready to speak Arabic, even if they could? Or that the film was made mostly for American movie-goers and so why make them read subtitles once all Jordanian characters/actors can speak acceptable English?
Maybe that's a problem.
For some fun, here is a video relevant to the issue of subtitles and the necessity of speaking good English. It's an old one.

1 comment:

Patton said...

Wow, that video's almost like Middle East Monty Python.