Today someone in my timeline tweeted a link to an incredibly sharp, satirical video parody of the Middle East uprisings. You might be excused for suspecting the author of this brilliant sendup was inspired by my tweet. The video was uploaded by egorzhgun on Mar 28, 2011 and is at the bottom of this post. View and enjoy, its hilarious. I guess we must be on the same wavelength!
Oh for those who don’t know, Angry Birds is the bestselling smartphone game app that millions are addicted to, including myself. I quote from an Economist article on the phenomenon:
The chances are that you have either played it, or seen someone else playing it or been invited to play it. But if not, the basic idea is that you use your mobile phone touch-screen to lob a preordained series of coloured birds, one after another, towards precarious buildings containing one or more circular green pigs. There is some kind of plot that explains all this, but nobody I know has ever bothered to pay attention to it, because that would delay the arrival of the next level.
The idea is to kill all the pigs by getting things to fall on them, knocking them to the ground or blowing them up (the colour-coded birds have different abilities). This usually requires multiple attempts as you try different demolition strategies. Once you’ve finished a level, another slightly harder one appears, and another, and another. It is life-stealingly addictive and hugely popular: about 30m copies of the game have been downloaded in the past year. But “Angry Birds” is more than just another mobile-phone game. It epitomises gaming in 2010 in three ways. First, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and by both casual and hardcore gamers. Each attempt at a level takes just a few seconds, which is great when you’re standing in a queue or on a train platform. But it can be played for hours on end. It’s simple enough to pick up quickly, yet also has depth and replay value for the more obsessive gamer. This is a circle that game publishers everywhere are suddenly trying to square.
A selection of tweets i favourited in the 24 hours leading up 11.2.11 Egypt’s day of reckoning….
So the Egyptians got their Friday of Departure after all–congratulations to them! This is a heady moment for all of us, Egyptian or not–
What a rollercoaster of a few days! 11.2.11 has proved to be unforgettable for all Egyptians except one: ex-President Hosni Mobarak who probably wants to erase all memories of Jan 25 and its ineluctable aftermath.
I found Pioneer editor Kanchan Gupta’s analysis of the tumultuous events in the Middle East to be comprehensive and useful (though i don’t share his fear of a Muslim alliance):
…As Egypt burst into celebrations, a bitter realisation began to sink in: If the US could abandon Mubarak, it could also say goodbye to others without allowing friendships of the past to weigh too heavily on its conscience.
Ironically, it is this perceived callous indifference of the US towards a beleaguered Mubarak in his last days in office that has left many flummoxed in Arabia. Egypt under the Mubarak dispensation, backed by the Army, was the best bet for peace in the region, especially in regard to Israel. It was also the best defence against the rise of radical Islamism whose practitioners see themselves as the alternative to incumbent Arab regimes. With Mubarak gone, the Muslim Brotherhood is preparing to make a dramatic appearance either through collaboration or alone in Egyptian politics; through Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamists have seized power in Gaza; in Lebanon, the Hizbullah, which has toppled the Hariri Government and put into place a regime controlled by Islamists, increasingly and frighteningly calls the shots; in Tunisia, dormant Islamism has come alive after the long-exiled leader of the till recently outlawed Islamist party Ennahdha, Rachid Ghanouchi, made a triumphant return home; in Jordan, the Friday street protests are being led by Islamists sustained by the Ikhwan’s ideology; in Yemen, Islamists are waiting for the palace to fall under their assault; in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, a deep undercurrent of radical Islamism is waiting to burst forth.
A gleeful Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the Egyptian uprising as the unleashing of an “Islamic wave”. His protégé and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the Egyptian uprising and the collapse of the Mubarak regime exactly 32 years to the day of the fall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi on February 11, 1979, as the “emergence of a new Middle East that will doom Israel and break free of American interference”.
On the subject of social media’s role in the recent ‘revolutions’ I found Global Voices Online co-founder Ethan Zuckerman’s comments thought-provoking:
– While there’s been extensive debate about whether social media helped organize or promote the protests in Egypt, I think the interesting story to watch will be whether social media can help Egypt in the transition to democracy. Power now rests with a council of military leaders, and there have been suggestions that this group could be complemented by a council of civilian “wise men”, giving a seat at the table to figures like Mohamed El-Baradei.
In lieu of having anything compelling to say myself I’ve decided to put up tweets I ‘favourited’ it in the last 24 hours or so (Twitter’s ‘favourite’ feature is a phenomenal tool which i use with abandon). Some of them reference Egyptian events and some don’t, but for what they’re worth here they are…with the most recent ones from this morning leading…
The boy who danced and sang his way into countless hearts from all cultures anywhere is no more. Michael Jackson.
There’s a yawning MJ-shaped chasm in the universe at this post-Jacksonian moment. Michael’s death wrenched the spotlight away from Iran and refocused it on a lost boy who was led astray everytime he tried to find his way home. Now he never will. I think the pressure of having to prove he was human to a world that suddenly seemed to turn hostile and scornful proved too much for this extraordinary boy-man to bear.
PROVE YOU’RE HUMAN demand the spambot busters when you try to leave a comment on blogposts or Facebook discussions. You then have to correctly type two distorted-looking words into a box, an action that apparently will instantly expose a spambot (which pretend to be users but actually want to harvest your email and other useful info about you) incapable of deciphering the letters.
Could MJ possibly have realized just how many fans and well-wishers he has all over the world? Michael Jackson dies and nearly takes internet with him announced one headline referring to the volume of cybertraffic trying to verify his death on the afternoon of June 25th, resulting in an overload which nearly crashed the Net the day he died. The media, snarling and vicious only a few years ago has been obsessively adulating him in death.
looklikemoney09 crazy how this nigga #michaeljackson got respect when he died an aint have none when he was alive was how one tweep roughly and eloquently summed it up. A commenter (sharon p) on a blog called Can’t Stop Won’t Stop poignantly asked: “how will i remember him? as the person who bought the elephant man’s bones just so he could bury them. who will he remind me of? Zora Neale Hurston, who was also accused of child molestation in 1948 — an accusation that caused her to leave the “community” she had dedicated her life to.”
The accusations of child molestation made against MJ in 2005 and the resulting media frenzy must have left a malingering but fatal wound on his already bruised and battered psyche. We seem to overlook the fact that everything Michael did was a scream for help.MJ enacted on his body the aggression he faced from his father & by extension society, and he flaunted his wounds in our face– that etiolated Geisha mask and his mutilated nose were pleas for the unconditional love he always desired.
Yet the media demanded that Michael act ‘normal’ and policed his departures from the norm with a vengeance that verged on violence. Hyena-like they were expressing the deep violence that underlies the social contract, a violence that had also consumed his erstwhile friend Diana, Princess of Wales, a decade or so ago.
Well, the mainstream media has limited credibility for me now, particularly in the wake of the Iraq War which they triumphantly and confidently led us into. If i’m going to believe anyone on the Michael Jackson saga it will be his close friends and family (see Deepak Chopra in the Huffington Post) who all testify to his innate goodness and compassion and not some journalist riding a moral high horse and instructing me on what is normal and what isn’t. For a good article on the subject i recommend Andrew Sullivan’s Thinking about Michael.
Jackson’s profound influence on global popular culture can be measured in the numerous song-and-dance routines of Bollywood films. Indian choreographers have yet to recover from the Thriller effect, which informs a good three quarters of all Bollywood dance numbers. Jai ho MJ said AR Rahman in his tribute. In the Caribbean the Jackson Brothers came to both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Mark Lyndersay has written a memorable account in the Trinidad Guardian of his encounter with MJ on that 1978 visit. Here he describes accompanying MJ to Laventille:
The lanky young black man, his hair a massive puff that swayed in the evening breeze, walked along the road, waving, shaking hands and chatting with surprised people relaxing in their verandahs on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon. I photographed the entire encounter for what I was told were his scrapbooks, memoirs he gathered of his travels.
Another area Michael may have been surprised to know he impacted on was the Middle East. In an article called “He meant so much to Arabs” the author detailed the region’s love affair with the singer:
As most of his admirers in the Middle East got pirated or smuggled copies of his music in the 1980s and 1990s, I don’t think MJ knew just how much his music shaped a whole generation of Arabs, just how many fans he had here and just how devoted they remained throughout his ordeals.
We might not have heard of the Beatles or Elvis Presley, but we sure knew Michael Jackson
There was just something about him and his songs that rang true. When we were teenagers, we would often smuggle music by MJ into our school in Saudi Arabia and share it among us by putting the cassettes into generic plastic covers to hide the fact that we were listening to his music.
There were fears among the religious police about his “influence” on the young mind, particularly as songs such as Bad and Beat It were copied and sung, and even dubbed into Arabic, by the young and the rebellious.
We didn’t care about his personal life, it didn’t matter. What was important were the songs. We identified with the themes of loneliness and rejection in his lyrics.
After the first Gulf War, the young in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait listened to his songs for strength and inspiration. I know I did – even if I didn’t understand all of the words back then.
In many ways – and despite reservations about Washington’s recent foreign policy – he was a symbol of America as a land of opportunity, especially for a generation of Arabs that had grown up in conflict.
People named their cars after him, not to mention their pets – my own white-and-black cat is called MJ.
The 1985 song We are the World, which MJ co-wrote, is a regular at school parties. Even his more recent albums strike a chord with his Middle Eastern fans, while a song like Scream, for example, is often played among young groupings who feel frustrated, pressurised, and suppressed by the establishment, whether it be official or cultural.
MJ performing live in Bucharest
As #Michaeljackson replaced #iranelection overnight as the top trending subject on Twitter a bitter Iranelection tweep reflected on the rapid shift in the public’s attention: “amazing how quickly interests shift from the plight of an entire country and its people to the death of a washed up pedophile #iranelection”. I wondered if this person so contemptuously dismissing Jackson realized that, just as in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East, it was probably this ‘washed-up pedophile’ who was responsible for exposing Iranian youth to the seductive, permissive culture of the West and indirectly to the rebellious spirit we saw erupt in Tehran last week. And for a great deconstruction of how news systems work the death of ‘famous persons’ have a look at this cartoon from the Stereotypist (a comic written and poorly drawn by john campbell. updated entirely without warning. e-mail wtfwjd ‘at’ gmail dot com) below. In the meantime i prefer to think of Michael as a friend on Facebook visualized him:
Sonjah Stanley NiaahMJ: The moonwalker who dwelled on earth for a while and left a luminous musical legacy!