الأربعاء، 9 أبريل، 2014

The Children Support Mickey Mouse


By Basim Mohammed Habib Translated By Namir Shabibi 23 October 2008 Watching America مقال منشور في موقع  
Iraq - Kitabat - Original Article (Arabic)


Finally, Mickey Mouse has entered into the contest, this time on a stage far from cartoons and motion pictures. After tiring from using familiar themes
and sonorous slogans for our consumption, in the debate about cultural imitation, ideologues now have Mickey Mouse to use against one another. In fact, this is a necessary adjustment to keep up with the changing taste of the new generations. Yet this transformation is not always achieved and sometimes it necessarily obtains that those expectations or standards are confounded, thus accepting Mickey Mouse into the fray.

On the Arab front, Mickey Mouse�s personality was never an overpowering one comparable to the fame it enjoyed in America and globally. This is understandable, in view of the predominance of a political approach that opposes these sorts of productions which propagandise American values. The result was a careful handling of all varieties of Western productions, and American ones in particular. This approach has increased by way of its influence and the tightening of censorship, by means of limitations and standards imposed by the hegemonic ideological program. This program, which distances and rejects the visual Other, derives its motifs from the region�s cultural heritage.

Despite this, the situation is not unchanging. The intensity of American productions and global reach has imposed a certain arrangement, which permits it to penetrate the Arab sphere, on the condition that it doesn�t conflict with the existing political programs of the region�s countries or carry Western signs and values, or propagate the American way of life. It thus appears that Mickey Mouse was amongst these �demonic� productions or similar, to many Arab countries. Because of this, it was rarely screened on Arab channels, even on cartoon channels like Space Toon.

Yet the situation has changed, with the issuing of fatwas [religious decrees] against Mickey Mouse, and more so with the media clamour which follow them, in addition to campaigns of rejection and condemnation. These lead to a noticeable increase in the media presence of Mickey Mouse, in which he began to enjoy a level of sympathy that even real life characters do not enjoy! He has won both supporters and admirers, previously never thought winnable. It appears, then, that these religious decrees compensated for the forced absence of Mickey Mouse cartoons and his personality has gained an Arab following previously undreamed of.

In Iraq, for example, which continues to suffer from this kind of [cultural] extremism, sales of Mickey Mouse photos have increased, as have attempts to buy the scarce cartoons in order to make up for his absence caused by television stations� reluctance to air them. It is most likely that this phenomenon is not limited to Iraq, too, in light of a wave of condemnation, with the issuing of fatwas having spread to more than one Arab country. This means that the fatwas have seen the opposite of their intended effect, with the popularity of this cartoon figure having increased greatly. Despite this, the situation has not changed the media�s handling of the issue, though it might well support a new orientation in this respect, sooner or later. Indeed, the fatwas may well have played a role in [cultural] liberalization and breaking a cultural blockade which is no longer of benefit, nor does it offer any solutions for the region�s infirmity in face of the Other�s [cultural] penetration. This is because the fatwas have become ineffective and unable to address the current balance. And it might be that the use of fatwas against this imagined figure is the most notable example of a significant shift, a shift which is making seductive advances with the promise of something new.

Has Mickey Mouse achieved what many intellectuals and scientists have failed to, or has the conflict only just begun, whereby this cartoon personality becomes the headline of a new debate and another surprising uproar? At the same time, I hope that our children do not fall prey to this kind of dispute, nor should they fall victim to it because they are both innocent and impressionable.
http://watchingamerica.com/News/10250/the-children-support-mickey-mouse/

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