July 10, 2007
Chanel and Shakira: Poor Alliteration and McDoomed Reporting
I have been meaning to write something about this for quite sometime but the bile clouded my judgement. In addition, part of me refused to give the article credence by commenting on it in any length while the rest of me seethed and wondered why this piece of frankly bordering on illiterate prose irked me so...I will try to be brief, as a dissection may spin out of control into an undignified meaningless diatribe.
The first lines read:
People often ask me how I can tie myself forever to Sudan, when I have covered the worst of this country in conflict zones like Darfur. I guess I finally understood the strength of love
Now, granted, as an outsider, it is always tough to find the right tone when commenting on your present reporting situ, without falling into the unbelievably obnoxious Tottenesque, humbled, came-to-investigate-but-stayed-to-cheer-voice; but give me a bloody break…
As far as I know, this can be a perfectly legitimate tone, one that gently attempts to highlight the misfortunes of a country but also shed light on its underlying cultural wealth and beauty, but I for one am sick of it. I’m sick of this breed of marginally articulate, Western educated matrons of ethnic extraction (that which gives them the right to be patronising and shallow) gallivanting across the world painting their light and shade portraits of beautiful but troubled lands.
Naïve reporting and flimsy alliteration I can stomach, but this, factually, is tripe…
We are both 29 and Muslim and shared a circle of friends for two years, but I was often on the road and we did not really become close until 2005. When we did, we came together in this rich mix of ancient Arab and African cultures, where no culture is dominant, despite the indoctrination policies of various governments...
No culture is dominant? In Sudan? Or at the wedding? Oh hold it, or was the wedding a metaphor?
I think we may be conflating ‘African’ and ‘Pharonic’. Pipe on about how you found love amidst the flies for as long as you want but please don’t, in your sing-song nursery rhyme excuse for a journalistic voice, claim that it’s not actually a land of conflict and that all cultures are indeed living in harmony fusing their wedding rituals in celebration of diversity while government after government is thwarted in its attempts to drive a wedge between naturally synergistic cultures.
Then the bride has to dance for the women in both families. Shake it like Shakira, I thought - great fun
Oh fuck off you facile numbskull, seriously.
I invited friends and family from around the world to my wedding - 2,000 people attended the white dress night at the Palace Hotel on the banks of the Nile in Khartoum - because I wanted them to see this, the other side to Sudan.
The side where there is no poverty and where you can hire 5 star hotels and entertain thousands of guests on the banks of the Nile? Don’t get me wrong, I’m as capitalist and consumerist as the next shallow girl but for the purposes of this particular ‘get to know the other Sudan exercise’ I think you would have done well not to highlight the whole rich/poor divide between the North and the rest of the country?
The 2.5 million people who suffer from the conflict there can only imagine the luxury of a beach honeymoon as they fester in miserable camps, too afraid to go home and dependent on handouts from aid workers.
Oh shit, too late.
My husband says he wants our children to be part of the generation that rebuilds Sudan as a more equal nation after so many years of civil war and faltering peace deals. I just hope it doesn't take that long.
I hope it doesn’t take that long for people to tire of this shamefully simplistic school of journalism, where those armed with little knowledge and even less intellect, are unleashed with their colouring crayons eager to paint their little neat pictures, all nice and coloured inside the lines.
I blame the audience, that which readily consumes this inanity and wishes the princess happiness as she returns to her African nest, both the demure Arabic virgin and the firebrand uncoventional bride dashing off to Darfur one last time. Well I for one think it's unadulterated shite, and if you don't like it you can stick up your arse and shake it like Shakira.
Posted by bint ash-shaitan at July 10, 2007 12:15 PM
Filed Under: Op-Ed
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"Tottenesque" should be in the dictionary.
Posted by: eerie at July 10, 2007 05:12 PM
What a pile of wank
Posted by: Meph at July 10, 2007 07:36 PM
Fluff, but harmless fluff.
Posted by: matthew hogan at July 10, 2007 09:13 PM
Speaking of finding love in unlikey places...
Posted by: Meph at July 11, 2007 03:56 AM
I remember that article having gotten ripped apart when it came out.
While I am all for presenting the region in all its variety & multifacetness (multifaceticity? multi-facetiousness?), this article is just like those "look, it's not all bad" videos that ABC's Diane Sawyer did in Syria & Iran a few months ago.
The best part was when she sat with a bunch of Syrian women, one of them Buthayna Sha'baan (a.k.a. "Mrs. Ba'th"), and used that staged meeting to show how freely Syrians can talk & how "just like us" they all are.
I do wonder if there's a kind of Stockholm-Syndrom-like process going on with a lot of outsiders coming here ("here" being the Middle East, as I am writing these lines in Beirut). Robert Fisk would be a good example ...
Back to Sudan & that wedding: The article is written so poorly that it won't do much damage, so when I saw it for the first time I just rolled my eyes & moved on. People will continue to read her pieces on Darfur (if her husband['s family] lets her continue - or maybe she's now enchanted by "living like a real Sudanese housewife"?) and otherwise ignore her.
Posted by: MSK at July 11, 2007 05:38 AM
Interesting guest list
"Guyanese-born Opheera - an award-winning journalist with the Reuters news agency, a woman used to arguing with ministers and rebel leaders, followed behind - shielding her face in a traditional display of shyness and submission."
"The master of ceremonies at the mosque was one of Sudan's foremost religious leaders turned political celebrity - Hassan al-Turabi. A close associate of Osama Bin Laden during his time in Sudan and through most of the 1990s, he was the ideological driving force of Khartoum's Islamist government."
"The guest list was a "Who's Who" of Khartoum society - President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, former rebel leaders, even war-crimes suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court."
BBC's the Wedding of the Year
And, being 29 and in love, in the traditional display of exhibitionism she prepared a personal home page for her wedding, Ati & Opheera
Posted by: Rude Awakening at July 11, 2007 01:15 PM
Well, well, well ...
That puts a whole new spin on her reporting. Having Hassan al-Turabi marry you ... and then dashing off to Darfur to report on the atrocities engineered by the very people who were guests of honor at your wedding ...
Posted by: MSK at July 13, 2007 02:04 AM
I'm sorely disappointed nobody linked to this or something like it.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at July 13, 2007 06:04 AM
It's too sad a story.
Posted by: MSK at July 13, 2007 06:28 AM
The comments on the article are none too praise-filled either.
Honest to god though, "Opheera McDoom"?
I genuinely find it hard to take someone seriously who has a name like that and doesn't use a pen name. I don't care how proud people are of their family names, if my name was "Celestielle McCoffin" or "Iphigenia FitzGrimreaper" I would fucking well find something less bizarre to use as a professional byline.
As for wedding websites, is anything more loathesome? Check out this Dubai example.
Posted by: secretdubai at July 20, 2007 06:42 PM
Perhaps it's my estrogen deficiency, but I am missing a) why a wedding website is interesting (other than for getting directions on how to get there), or b) why it could ever generate offense.
It's like freaking out over a doyly.
Posted by: matthew hogan at July 20, 2007 11:03 PM
Because they are odiously ostentatious.
A private wedding information site, with the password given just to invited guests, is fine.
Anything else is just vile.
Posted by: secretdubai at July 21, 2007 04:52 AM
Speechless at the Dubai site
Posted by: Bint at July 21, 2007 06:08 AM
Have to say that I find that wedding site quite boring. It's not overly ostentatious. And ... call me jaded, but the existence of those (public) sites doesn't surprise me at all. Of course they exist. BFD.
What did surprise me is that the woman's not that beautiful. Oh well - De gustibus non est disputandum.
Posted by: MSK at July 21, 2007 06:38 AM
Passwords for a personal wedding site sound like a lot more logistical trouble than they are worth. Besides, for an average person's wedding, who besides close friends and family is even likely to stumble across the site accidentally?
One of my cousins had a wedding site - as almost all the guests were not from the bride's hometown, it was very handy for logistical info, and to see the photos afterwards (and for those who couldn't make it to the wedding to see the photos). Even if you wouldn't do it yourself, I just don't understand why one would take offense at something like that.