Arabs Got (No) Talent: Is It Really About Animal Abuse?

This past Saturday I found myself watching Arabs Got Talent with a friend because we seemingly had nothing else to do. Yes, I’m not the type to go bar-hopping. While going through that Lebanese-Russian bland ballerina, to that pianist who played backwards I daresay I was unimpressed.

A creepy looking Saudi man named Ahmad el Doussary then emerges and starts eating burning charcoal. He then proceeds to eat a scorpion. Then he figures it’s great to bite off the head of a snake and eat it. Everyone and their mother has talked about his act so far and it’s so horrendous that I refuse to link the video. The female judge, Najwa Karam, was appalled. The men, macho as they are, figured he was decent enough to make it to the next round and they buzzed him through.

Perhaps the definition of Arabs in Urban Dictionary should be amended to the following: people who consider eating snakes and scorpions a talent.

Ahmad el Doussary will not be doing an act on animals in whatever next round of Arabs Got Talent is, according to Gino. I have no idea what other “talent” he has up his sleeve but I daresay eating glass is so passé. The discussion about el Doussary has mainly revolved around the fact that what was broadcast on television was animal abuse and how this act will promote such behavior in the general Arab populace later on.

I disagree.

I am an animal abuser in a way or another because I fully do not intend to become a vegetarian or vegan anytime soon, if ever. I come from small town Lebanon. I’ve had distant relatives who operate local butcher shops and I’ve seen how they handle their cattle. They say it’s a painless process but I don’t believe it. I still eat the meat anyway.

I’m also fully aware of what goes on in Lebanese slaughterhouses. We’re not a country where regulations are liked and I don’t expect such places to follow protocol in the least. Yet do we really have a problem in having roast beef or chicken for our Sunday lunches? How many people, for instance, will look upon the upcoming Adha sheep slaughter as animal abuse?

Do you want to know who also skins and eats snakes for show? The Lebanese Army. Many of us have had some army personnel hosted in our hometowns for them to showcase some of their skills. The grand finale usually involves them grabbing a full-grown snake that can stretch for a few meters, have a few men hold it and start chewing on it. The mere memory of it turns my insides out. There are YouTube videos everywhere of that and I refuse to post any of them here.

In my opinion, the basic problem isn’t with Ahmad el Doussary only, it’s with the notion that there are people out there who believe that what Ahmad el Doussary did and what those army personnel do over and over again is entertainment. They decided that this kind of entertainment can be labeled as a talent in Doussary’s case. They decided it was the kind of entertainment they should air or get us all to see.

As people of this region, we are quite used to seeing horrendous stuff on TV. It was only a few weeks ago that our news broadcasts were full of pictures of dead Syrian Children. Our media have no compass to guide their sense of what should be aired or not. But the truth is that our media stems from us and we are a people who don’t mind the shock factor that our media love to use over and over again. Yes, what Ahmad el Doussary did sickens me but it will happen again if we don’t say that all the other disgusting stuff we get exposed to are not acceptable as well. I don’t see that happening anytime soon because, haven’t you heard? Someone ate a snake on Arabs Got (No) Talent and it was disgusting… now go check it.

When An American Nails An Arab Talent Show

Jennifer Grout is an American who doesn’t know a word of Arabic. Yet she still managed to nail the song “Ba’id Annak” by Um-Kulthum, all while playing the oud.

Many of us have American relatives and we all know exactly how difficult it is for them to learn Arabic. More often than not, their attempts at pronouncing some letters turn into pure entertainment, which makes Jennifer’s achievement even more impressive.

At a time when our TV stations are littered with contestants vying to become stars, Jennifer Grout manages to make a dent. I’m very intrigued as to what she will do next. Even over here, Americans got talent.

Middle Eastern Talent Show Overdose: Star Academy Is Back

Star Academy Arabia

Just when you thought saturation was reached with Arabs Got Talent, The Voice, X Factor Arabia and Arab Idol, Star Academy decides to return to the singing show scene after a two year hiatus, fully-rebranded as Star Academy Arabia.

Casting for the show has started in Jordan and will continue across countries of the region. Lebanon will have its share next week at Monroe Hotel. And to re-assert itself as the most popular of the bunch, its Facebook page – started less than a month ago – already has north of 50,000 likes (link).

A source has told me the show will start this coming October on a yet-to-be-chosen TV station although I think we can assume it won’t be MBC who should have its hands (and schedule) full with both The Voice and Arab Idol. Dutch company Endemol is currently at the helm.

Toni Qahwaji has been tipped off to direct the show. He was a regular when the show aired on LBC in 2011 and earlier.

So in case the other twenty three talent shows weren’t enough to satisfy this apparently incessant need among the public, another one will be launching yet another “winner” to forget about.

I, for one, had thought Star Academy decided to call it off – similar to what happened to the French version – after its last lackluster season. I figured people may have gotten tired of it. It seems I was extrapolating based on what I felt towards these shows now that I’m not thirteen anymore.

I bet these shows have lost track of the participants they can’t wait to make millions off then forget about the moment the season wraps.  I don’t know about you but I’ve lost track after Joseph Attieh.

The Voice is Coming To The Middle East: The Voice Arabia

I spotted the following poster while walking in Gemmayzé yesterday.

Yes! Another talent show imported to the region for insatiable crazed fans.

The Voice, originally a Dutch TV show, was taken up by the US and then many other countries followed suite. Now it’s the Middle East’s turn.

Because between Star Academy, Arab Idol, Arabs Got Talent and many other talent shows that I haven’t heard of, we still have a shortage.

The concept of the TV show from what I gathered is the following: it starts with blind auditions whereby candidates sing to judges who have their backs turned to them. If only one of the judges likes a candidate, he would choose for this candidate to be on his or her team. So each judge builds a team and then the teams go head to head against each other while people vote, obviously.

I have mentioned The Voice on my blog before when I spoke about a Lebanese contestant on the French version of the show. He ended up losing around the quarter finals.

Will you be watching this? Because I surely don’t have time for it.

Lord Gaga X Does It Again

Provide a hilarious show without intending to, that is.

To those who watched the show, did he advance to the next stage?

If they let him through, then it’s beyond any doubt a gimmick to bring in viewers. How many tuned in to Arabs Got Talent only to see what he had up his sleeve?

Now imagine him winning and becoming the symbol of what talent the Arabs have. That would be quite awesome.

If I were in his shoes and after the week his country (Syria) had, I would have shown a little more consideration.