Lebanon’s Government Wants To Ban “Wonder Woman” Because Lead Actress Gal Gadot Is Israeli

Oh look, just when you thought we couldn’t regress further as a country, some entity decides to take up the challenge. The latest is Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy deciding, at the very last minute, to start the procedure to ban this summer’s blockbuster movie “Wonder Woman” because its lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli.

As per a source, Wonder Woman has already passed all forms of regulations for it to get a screen date in Lebanon, which is this coming Thursday, including a very strict censorship bureau and other apparatuses who are more than willing to ax movies than to let them through. And yet, as in typical Lebanese fashion and because we definitely have our priorities in order, Lebanon’s government decided to rise up from its slumber and resist, even though the movie has been announced for over 3 years now.

Resist what? A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli or has served in the IDF or who is part of an apartheid state, but who’s not portraying ANYTHING related to her “country” in any way whatsoever. A movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Israel in any way, where Israel is not even mentioned or alluded to, and in which the lead actress does nothing to even propagate the idea of her homeland. And yet, her mere existence has some people triggered beyond belief.

You’d think if they want their ban to make the least of sense, they’d have done it a year ago when the movie’s first trailer was released, not in the week of its release after it’s been given a green light, handling massive financial losses to the Lebanese company that won its distribution rights.

In a statement issued today (link in Arabic), Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy – I don’t even know how it’s their job to decide some movies should be censored – said the following:

  • The ministry of Economy has already taken the necessary measures to make sure Gal Gadot’s previous movie, Batman v Superman, was not shown in Lebanese cinemas through a request to the General Directorate of Security dating 13/03/2016.
  • The ministry has also sent a request to the BDS office in Damascus to add Gal Gadot’s name to a blacklist for boycott.
  • On 21/04/2016, the Arab League issued a decree to ban any movie featuring Gal Gadot.
  • On 29/05/2017, the ministry has issued a decree to the General Directorate of Security to start the necessary procedures to ban the movie’s screening.

I don’t know where the people governing us have been living, but Batman v Superman was not banned. In fact, I watched it on a big fat Lebanese screen and many applauded when Gal Gadot’s character came on screen because her character, which also happens to be Wonder Woman in that movie, is badass and worthy of the applause.

Gal Gadot’s was also featured in the Fast and Furious series, multiple times, all of which were not banned as well. Probably because more than a few government official as well as some of those turned up about banning Wonder Woman wanted to see Vin Diesel make those cars roar.

Who knows, maybe their problem isn’t with Gal Gadot being Israeli and having served in the IDF, both of which have no bearing on the movie in question, but rather because the movie features strong independent female characters which our patriarchy cannot propagate?

And let’s not begin with even listening to what the Arab League deems appropriate or not. If we went by anything that lot wanted, we’d be living in the darker ages they’re all enjoying so happily.

What’s next, though? Banning every single movie that dares to be associated in any way with Israel? Banning every actor or actress who’s set foot in Israel? Deciding not to show any feature film that has any entity that remotely agrees with anything Israel does? Why don’t we just ban ourselves from everything commercial in the world and be done with it?

Natalie Portman was born in Israel. No one has a problem with her movies. I’m willing to be those same people calling for Wonder Woman’s ban were more than excited to see Portman in the Star Wars reboot, way back when.

The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it, having it banned for everyone else is what’s wrong, not the fact that the actress in it happens to come from an enemy country whose existence we don’t acknowledge. Simply don’t go watch it. Don’t give it the word of mouth it needs. Don’t give it your hard-earned money, call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.

The fact that, in the week of Wonder Woman’s release worldwide, the Lebanese media cycle is about the possibility of banning the movie as our government remembers that this movie features an actress we don’t approve of, is sad. Where do we draw the line at what should be banned in this country because of its association with Israel? Or are we going to keep on cherry picking at battles without knowing how to pick them?

Even if they ban Wonder Woman, our government and those who support its decision seem to have forgotten that in the age of the internet, no movie is further than a couple of clicks away. I’m not surprised that they’re not even aware how futile their censorship attempts will be at preventing the propagation of whatever it is they don’t want to propagate.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be making sure to watch Wonder Woman (if they keep her, and even if they don’t). Gal Gadot may be a shitty person and actress, but both are still not enough arguments to ban the movie. Just let me know, when you’re done with the hoopla, if you’ve freed Palestine by banning an irrelevant movie featuring an irrelevant actress with an irrelevant background to an irrelevant story, while Lebanon maintains its oppression of the Palestinians living here.

Advertisements

When A 63 Year Old Militia Member & Minister of Sports & “Youth” Bans MMA in Lebanon For Being “Too Violent”

lebanon-mma

I will never get how a politician whose background is education and who’s nearing the Lebanese legal retirement age has the qualifications to head the Lebanese department of Sports and Youth, but here we are – as usual – and that person is Mohammad Fneish.

The Lebanese minister of sports and youth is usually inconspicuous. They sponsor a few tournaments here and there, issue statements in support of our national teams every now and then, but the sports situation in the country is improving at a pace slower than a snail’s, the clearest indication our athletes not bringing in any medals at the Olympics and barely receiving governmental aid. In fact, those athletes had to pay for some of their expenses at the previous Olympics.

Today, Mohammad Fneish decided that MMA, which stands for mixed martial arts, would be banned in Lebanon and have all its licenses revoked, according to Sports-961. The resolution, which was published yesterday, says the following:

  • Article 1: Resolution 67/1/2016 on 10/4/2012 regarding MMA is annulled, and so the said game becomes one of the non-practiced sports in Lebanon.
  • Article 2: It is prohibited to any party, and under any title, to hold games, competitions and events of MMA or any similar sport in which a cage and violence are used, and that, under the risk of applying the laws in force.
  • Article 3: This resolution will be published and divulged where needed.

Before going into the benefits of a sports like MMA, I can’t but note the irony in anyone banning a sports in Lebanon because it’s too “violent.” Our basketball games have a tendency to break out in riot just because. Our football games have the same tendency as well. MMA is one of the few sports in the country that is not synonymous with “violence” at this point, but it’s the one that banned.

It was a few weeks ago that all hell broke loose between Homentmen and Riyadi because the latter team’s fans raised Turkish flags to tease the Armenian-Lebanese team. Riyadi and Sagesse basketball games have been held more frequently without fans than with them because of how disruptive and violent they tend to become. Football games featuring Al Nejmeh and Al Ansar have also often managed to turn violent. What’s next, should we ban sports altogether just because the actions of a few individuals taint the bigger picture?

The even bigger irony is that the politician banning MMA is member of a Lebanese militia whose ideological existence is mostly based on the premise of “resistance,” which is inherently violent. How often does Hezbollah brag about its missiles, about its power to stop its enemies in their track? How many times has that party threatened the Lebanese interior to get its way? How many times has that party, in the past decade, launched mini civil wars against fellow Lebanese to get its way? I guess violence is only as such when it’s between two consenting adults in proper gear, but never with tanks and brigades in neighboring countries.

If anything, Lebanon needs MMA for the many benefits it contains which would better our society. It’s a discipline that has been shown to grow the confidence of the person training in it. It teaches them self-defense and is a good medium for them to release pent-up energy. It boosts self-discipline and forms bonds of friendships between those who are training and is known to be a huge stress- relief.

If anything, MMA controls the violent tendencies that we all have inside us especially in a country where daily life serves to boost our anger. Punches and kicks are not “violent” when they’re performed in a controlled medium. It’s like they want people to be on edge all the time and not want them to find media in which they can release all the crap they have to deal with daily because of the inadequacy of our governance.

People can get hurt doing all kinds of sports. You’d think a minister of sports and youth would know that.

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?

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!