Dear MTV, Here’s What Insults Christianity

Lebanon + nurse + halloween + ban

PS: The Cross isn’t sold with this

I didn’t want to address anything related to that nun costume. It was culturally demeaning to even consider that nylon thing as something worthy of a discussion, which the country decided to have over the past few days.

Lebanese Christian victimhood takes front and center once again. Sometimes, the reason for the panic may be fathomable. Other times, such as this time, it’s completely silly to make a fuss out of it. I wasn’t going to say anything until I read this exquisite piece by MTV Lebanon about the outfits (here). I also did a good amount of research to check if the sexy nun outfit wasn’t some slutty Mexican folklore. You never know!

So dear MTV and the many Lebanese Christians who believe in what MTV said, please look at what really insults Christianity.

It’s a bigger insult to Christianity when you put a shroud of holiness around priests and nuns and monks who have done nothing to you in any way whatsoever except belong to the religion you believe in.

It’s a bigger insult to Christianity when you protect those people of the cloak beyond any form of doubt, despite it not making sense, because you believe they are of a higher moral order, because you believe they are above sins when Pope Francis shattered stereotypes by acknowledging that he was a man of sin.

It’s a bigger insult to Christianity to take insult to every single thing that infringes upon anything that is related in any way to the religion especially when the insult doesn’t even touch upon the Holy convictions championed by that religion. What would you have done had the outfit been a slutty virgin Mary? Now that is something I might fathom being upset about – but are we seriously getting insulted by a downright stereotypical outfit of a nun?

It’s an insult to Christianity that we keep going backwards as a society while everyone else goes forward. It’s an insult to Christianity that while the religion, with its new head, tries to find some footings in the 21st century, Lebanese Christians are firmly set in keeping it in the dark ages: what we don’t like even if hating it is way out there, the country doesn’t get. It’s as simple as that.

It’s an insult to my intellect, dear MTV, to assume that a Halloween outfit is of the same insult caliber as the desecration of Churches and Holy monuments in Syria and Egypt. It’s also an insult to my intellect to read a piece written in that impeccably constructed language. Was it translated from Arabic using Google? Anyway, seeing as my intellect resides in the body of a Christian person on paper, I must also consider this as an insult to Christianity because the logic might hold somehow.

Lebanese Christians, I beseech you (always wanted to use that word) to wake up and realize the following: You are entitled to believe in whatever you. You even have the right to take offense when your Holy figures are ridiculed and whatnot. And sometimes I’ll stand with you if the stance was worth it.  But being insulted by a Halloween costume is taking it too far.

MTV, you didn’t handle the priest scandal well. Why are you doing the same mistake again?

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Liquid Cocaine Isn’t Banned in Lebanon

 

Lebanon is anything but dull. If you thought you can have a week pass by without some form of mini scandal, you were definitely mistaken.

This week, Lebanon is all about liquid cocaine and sexy nuns. Pretty out of the box, isn’t it?

I have to admit that Liquid cocaine is one of the shots that I liked when I tried. What I didn’t get, however, was why people were actually worried that such a thing could remotely get banned in Lebanon. People, people have you seen other similar entities that our government tried to ban and failed miserably?

If you don’t remember, here’s a memory-pick-me-up: the smoking ban! Have you found yourself in a restaurant you thought was smoke free only to get surrounded by a smoke of nicotine and other carcinogens? Have no fear, there’s a law being broken right there.

If there’s anything to conclude about our country’s state, it’s that such “bans” never take hold because people choose to simply not abide and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. When it comes to this particular alcohol mix, however, there’s no reason to be afraid as the ministry of tourism has clarified that it pertains to a drink called “Cocaine,” whose picture you can find below, and which is not even sold in Lebanon.

Cocaine is the name for an American energy drink brand. Red Bull must be pretty happy about this. All in all, meh, this turned out to be so anti-climatic, don’t you say?

Cocaine Drink

Therefore, with the weekend coming up, have no fear. Your favorite shots are here to stay.

Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack” Banned in Lebanon

The Attack is that kind of movies that spring controversies without people even watching it. When I first blogged about it (link) back in December 2012, I asked the obvious question: will the movie having to do with Israel, being shot there and whatnot, deter it from being screened here?

For a while, it seemed the answered would be no – the movie had gotten its permit for screening approved back in September:

 

Ziad Doueiri The Attack Permit Lebanon

 

Then came Oscar time and the movie’s director made a big deal out of our ministry of culture refusing to have his movie represent Lebanon at the Oscars. People panicked: what an act of cultural terrorism, etc… I thought the ministry of culture’s decision was spot-on. It was simply choosing not to submit the movie for an award show, not banning people from watching it. Regardless of how excellent the movie is, does it represent Lebanon enough for it to be our submission for the Oscars? I hardly think so (link).

However, things have taken yet another turn. The permit shown above was asked to be returned by relevant authorities because minister Marwan Charbel decided to ban “The Attack” from being shown in Lebanese theaters. The justification for that was exactly the initial question I had asked way back when: part of the movie was shot in Israel.

Now the decision to ban the movie is downright unacceptable:

  1. Lebanon has had Palestinian movies released in it, some of which have had parts of them shot in Israel. Paradise Now anyone?
  2. The movie is not an Israeli movie for us to maybe fathom banning it. There are Israeli actors in it but that doesn’t mean the movie is funded by the Israeli government.
  3. How about we start banning all movies with parts that may have been shot in Tel Aviv? I can think of many American movies with Israel-centric scenes. Or do we just panic when it’s a Lebanese filmmaker?
  4. What’s the point really of banning a movie with a sequence shot in Israel? It doesn’t end the occupation, it doesn’t serve a higher moral purpose and there’s no point to it at all.
  5. Shouldn’t the ministry of interior affairs have more serious things at hand? For instance, shouldn’t they be working on an electoral law? How about working on all the racist municipalities issuing curfews against Syrians? Or better yet, why not work on the deteriorating security situation in the country? Oh wait, movie shot in Israel trumps all of those anytime of the day.

We have reached a time where our government doesn’t even know that I can download whatever movie they ban with a few clicks (and a 24 hour waiting time given our internet). The moment “The Attack” becomes available online is the moment I get to watch it. And I’ll see that Tel Aviv scene and I won’t panic nor will I become a traitor nor will some feeling inside me move towards our Southern enemy. Who’s the only entity hurting from such archaic and irrelevant bans? The filmmaker who’s hurting financially and Lebanon’s reputation as a country for freedom, being dragged daily towards the abyss by minds still stuck in 1864.

Good job Marwan Charbel. One day you sign a civil marriage contract, the other you ban a movie – because keeping a good streak is too mainstream.

(Source).

Alternatives To The Viber Ban in Lebanon

In case you didn’t know, Alfa has blocked Viber on its 3G network and MTC will follow suit later on seeing as the demand to stop Viber came from the ministry of telecommunications.

I don’t want to go into speculation as to the reason of the ban and I have asked the minister on twitter about that but he didn’t reply. It seems this whole #ProtectPrivacy balderdash only works when it’s aimed at your political opponents. This is proof that what I said is true – the ministry doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your freedom except when it serves them politically.

Incidentally, Lebanese Twitter and Facebook users were not up in a fit about this as they were about #ProtectPrivacy thing. Guess it only works when they’re driven by some politician. It feels good to be right.

Anyway, seeing as Viber is not the only VoIP app available on Apple’s AppStore and Google Play – or whatever that store is called, I figured I’d make a list of other apps that you can use and which haven’t been blocked yet. The VPN fix requires you to pay for a subscription eventually. Hopefully by the time they block all other viber-like apps, some Lebanese would have seen through all the ministry’s bullshit and decided to call them up on it.

1 – SideCar (iOS/Android):

This is a whatsapp alternative that also allows you to call those that have activated it on their numbers. It’s also free.

2 – Vonage (iOS/Android):

This app allows you to call US and Canada numbers for free and most importantly, it lets you call other people who have Vonage.

3 – Tango (iOS/Android):

Has the same components as Viber and then some more such as video chats.

4 – Fring (iOS/Android):

Allows free calls, video calls and free group calls to those who have it activated on their number.

My Last Valentine in Beirut To Be Banned?

Leave it to Lebanese movies to reveal inherent complexes among some strata in our society. I have yet to watch My Last Valentine in Beirut and seeing as it’s already been released, I figured it must have passed through the fangs of censorship and landed safely on our screens. But that was too good to last apparently.

No, the problem isn’t with the supposed sex in it. It’s not with the main character being a prostitute. It’s not with the use of “foul” language that might be offensive to some as if people don’t hear the word “sharmou*a” day in day out. The problem with My Last Valentine in Beirut seems to be more clothes-related.

The syndicate of nursing in Lebanon is filing a lawsuit against My Last Valentine in Beirut for using a nurse’s outfit seductively in the movie. The sultry portrayal of nurses in the movie is, according to the syndicate, a violation of the sanctity of their profession. I guess they haven’t played doctor before.

If the demands of the syndicate are met, the movie will be either withdrawn from cinemas or edited to remove these “offensive” scenes. Lebanese filmmakers, regardless of how horrible their movies might be, apparently need to bring in portions from every single part of society for early screenings. You never know what might be in their movies that might be offensive to someone whose mental capacities seem to be limited at best because it seems that lately anyone finds something offensive in absolutely anything and cannot get past it.

You’d think the Lebanese Nursing syndicate would be fighting for the rights of Lebanon’s nurses. You’d think they’d be demanding better wages, better working hours, more benefits. Instead they throw their efforts at My Last Valentine in Beirut because they know that if they make a big enough fuss, someone out there in Lebanon’s narrow-minded censorship bureau will respond. And it’s not like the “sexy nurse” attire in movies hasn’t been overly overdone but feeling empowered only happens when it comes to local productions.

And how about that horrible XXL ad? Doesn’t it have “sexy nurses” for them to sue?

I don’t know if My Last Valentine in Beirut is a good enough movie or not. But I find a request to censor a movie based on what a character wore in it is ridiculous. How silly is it for anyone to find what a character wears in a movie offensive enough to call for the banning or the censoring of said movie? I’m sure even less open countries of the region haven’t had such problems with their productions. And when will people learn that asking to ban anything only brings attention to the thing you want to ban? It happened recently with Tannoura Maxi, which seems to be winning well at international film festivals.

There’s a fine line between fighting for your rights and being absolutely obnoxious. Lebanon’s nursing syndicate is sitting firmly in the nauseating camp. And some wonder where some nurses get their attitude!

 

Lebanese Restaurants Violating The Smoking Ban: 3enab, Gemmayze

I went to 3enab yesterday for the first time and I thought it was a very cool restaurant. I really liked the old-fashioned Lebanese architectural aspect of it. The food was good as well – after all, you can’t go terribly wrong with Lebanese food, which is the absolute best, and that is a fact.

As my friends and I settled down, a waiter came to us and asked if we wanted an arguile. I promptly asked him: isn’t smoking banned? He then replied: we’ll open this window:

Never mind that the window was tiny but apparently that’s enough to consider the room an “open space” – whatever that means. Soon enough, a couple coming for dinner ordered an arguile. The man was also smoking cigar.

As we finished having dinner and turned around to leave, we were surprised to find the entire restaurant filled with arguiles, even in sections of the restaurant without windows to open. A friend noted as we exited the door: it felt like shisha cafe for a moment there.

 

Ironically, this is the sign they had at their main door:

As soon as I left, I called 1735 and reported the place. They took my contact info and said they’ll look into it. But as I was made to realize: infringing the law this obviously in an area where tourism police is constantly on the prowl, seeing it was a Friday night, means 3enab probably has some under the table dealings with those making sure the law is carried out. Anything for that extra arguile revenue.

I’m pretty sure those against the smoking ban are elated right now.

The Lebanese Issue With Fetih 1453

Fetih 1453 is a Turkish movie that was briefly released in Lebanese cinemas last week before meeting outrage from Greek Orthodox Christians due to its “historically incorrect” and defamatory content.

The movie has since, of course, been banned.

I won’t go endlessly about the uselessness of bans and how I’m officially against banning anything, etc, bla bla bla. You don’t want to waste your time reading it and I’m frankly tired of sounding like a broken record with this happening frequently lately.

Having said that, I do have an issue with Fetih 1453. Let’s call it the Lebanese Turkish obsession.

I don’t like Lebanese people watching Syrian-dubbed Turkish endless dramas. It was “funny” to see the Nour craze (this still makes me cringe). But when it started moving towards twenty five series per second on every single channel on TV, it became frankly nauseating.

And yet those series still find an audience. So I figured housewives and school children must be bored. The former don’t get access or can’t read Fifty Shades of Grey and the latter haven’t discovered porn yet. And it’s fine – it’s just something free and silly for them to watch.

However, I have to ask: Why did a Turkish movie get a wide release and such intensive publicity in Lebanon to begin with?

It’s not because the movie is a foreign movie. The world has about 200 countries, many of which produce cinema. I don’t see Latvian movies getting wide releases here.

It’s not because Turkey is a nearby country. I’m pretty sure Greece has movie offerings as well and we don’t get those.

It’s not because the cinema in Turkey is such an attraction. If anything, why not bring Bollywood movies? For the record, please don’t.

We don’t know the Turkish language. Most of us (I’d say all but who knows) don’t want to learn the language. Many other cinematic offerings by other more cinematically “significant” countries never see the light of day at our cinemas. And yet someone decided that this Turkish movie was such a cinematic jewel that we couldn’t live without it.

A Separation,” a movie that by all accounts is near a masterpiece, didn’t even get a wide release here. Let alone all the billboards announcing it. And that movie is Iranian, so another neighbor whose number we don’t understand and who’s politically involved with us.

Do Lebanese movies get the same treatment in Turkey? Our movies don’t even get the same reception in Egypt that Egyptian movies get over here.

Moreover, didn’t anyone stop for a second and think what would the Lebanese Armenians think about a Turkish movie being released in Lebanon? Why don’t we bring Armenian movies to Lebanon instead? At least there are people here who’d go watch them without needing the subtitles.

It would have been much better for Fetih 1453 to be incorporated in one of the many movie festivals we get over here. Lebanese movie distributors should either be fair in bringing movies here or just keep the regular formula that honestly seems to work: bring the American and French. Leave out the rest. Sprinkle some Lebanese Nadine Labaki occasional seasoning on top. And that’s it.