Friday, July 20, 2007

The are two cliches here

Covering the News in the Middle East comes down to two stereotyped cliches. You have two choices when it comes down to it.

Cliche 1 , All stories start with the Natural Sound of the "Call to Prayer" Allah Ackbar and a lot wailing over a montage of shots with slow dissolves naturally distinguishing the setting as not out the front of middle class surburbia, the usual is then to follow follow up with shots of masked men carrying guns and firing into the air. It does not matter if it is a wedding or a funeral, masked gunmen firing into the air makes good television.

Now my theory is that the "Masked Gunmen" wear masks not because they are wanted but probably because they are Bank Tellars and Accountants in the real world and putting on the Mask transforms them into raging Militants to be feared by all, when in fact they have to be home before ten because there Mum will worry.

So there is Cliche 1 , now what happens if you do not have a Mosque nearby and no one is wearing a mask or carrying gun. Yes Dorothy there are places here where neither exist in the West Bank. Gaza well that is another matter.

Anyway this morning saw the release of 256 Palestinian Prisoners from Israeli jails back to their families in the West Bank and it was a near media feeding frenzy. Every TV Network from around the world was there and each one of them seemed to have decided to cover the same family that we had supposedly lined up, Asaad our talent, should of had an agent trying to set up a book deal.

His wife had been in an Israeli Prison for 3 and half years and Asaad had been raising his five children and they all came out and stood in the sun with us and waited and were filmed by at least ten other Networks, from Italy to Canada Asaad and the kids were asked the same questions just in different languages translated by local fixers and producers.

Eventually the buses came through and the families and the media did what is natural in such events, by this I mean we all tried to get run over by the buses and the released Prisoners hung out of the window and celebrated as they were taken up to meet the President.

I mean these Prisoners were not released for good behaviour, they were released by the Israelis who along with the rest of the world are trying to bolster the image of Palestinian President Abbas after the debacle of his supporters in Gaza last month losing power and anyone with any power fleeing like rats up a drainpipe.

Thus todays token release of Prisoners makes Abbas look like a man of power, the fact that thousands more languish in Israeli jails, roadbloacks and checkpoints make it impossible to travel between towns and villages and Israel holds onto all tax money that belongs to the Authority. The bottom line is that Israel will probably arrest more than they released today in the next few days just to get the numbers back up to the status quo.

Anyway Asaad was happy and managed to throw his two smallest children through the bus window to his with so she could share some quality time, I fear the two small children were totally terrified of this woman screaming and clutching them in this bus being mobbed.

So we get back to the bureau and face the dilemna of the classic cliche start to the package. No Mosque, no call to prayer, no masked bank tellars.

Have no fear enter Middle East cliche 2

The Warbling Women , yes the Arabic Woman dressed in National Costume coming up to the camera and warbling with there tongue olllllaaaaa ollllaaaa [well hard to translate warble] then after a couple of warbles up come the hands and holding there face and staring down the camera ala woe is me.

So when the masked bank tellars and mullahs in minarets are not available , have no fear the warbling grandmothers are ready to step up and solve the medias cliche conundrum.


21stCenturyMom said...

I thought that was called 'ululating'. Or is it only ululating at funerals?

I hope those kids are okay!

Anonymous said...


I think the start of the Apocolypse may be signaled by the warbling women replacing the muzzein, thus completeing the prophetic combination of Cliche 1 and Cliche 2.

Safe travels,


Anonymous said...

Not exactly a Paris Hilton prison release Mal..but interesting. I will have a whole new perspective on hooded men now but have to say..the warbling women at best are irritating. Have they no better means of expressing themselves, Mal? Can't imagine greeting a man when he comes home from a hard days work as a bank teller with worbling. No wonder they are always shooting AKs in the air. Looks like they seek out ways to make a bad situation....worse. Your interesting story seems to indicate that all things remain the same no matter what the story you gigantic steps forward and power and leadership spurious. I'd say you have a heck of a job of editing your film, Mr. James. You are an expert at getting the essense of the scene. Reality is your game, recording it your fame. I get the picture. Your great sense of humor and your two bad habits must keep you going. I am surprised you only have two bad habits.
grateful for your blog,
Annie in Arizona

turdpolisher said...

I hit the cliche tri-fecta when editing for the late news. Call to prayer, warbling women, and shooting in the air. It was a good day.