Sunday, June 29, 2008

Concerning Hollywood

One of my regular readers (Archtype) has asked a question in my chatbox. Lets give it a quick response. However, I'm curious, so by me answering this, I now expect you (Archtype) to tell me how you came across my blog in the first place. Heres the statement
hmm i just realised -the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time do not have any black actors in major starring or main roles. moral of the story ,if you want to make a blockbuster -dont hire black people .... MJ rebuttal? - Archtype
Firstly - This is not a rebuttal in the traditional sense - My aim is not to pick out flaws in the hypothesis but to provide my opinion on the statement. Secondly - there are two lists of the Highest grossing movies off all time - One that takes inflation into consideration and the other which doesn't - from your subsequent statements I see that you are referring to the second list (does not take inflation into consideration). Personally i believe the first list is a more accurate reflection but we as a generation prefer the second list for two reasons - the first is that we are familiar with more of the titles in there, and secondly we buy into the marketing.
Lets paste the top ten movies (not taking inflation into account) and take it from there (taken from Wikipedia)

1Titanic $1,848,813,795
10Jurassic Park $914,691,118
Ok - so apart from Eddie Murphy who provides the voice of Donkey in Shrek 2 ( I don't know why you are discrediting animation though) there are no Substantial African American roles in the top ten.
A question that might follow out of this debate is 'Is Hollywood racist?' But heres the thing - it isnt Hollywood that determines a movies popularity, but the consumer.
Before we go further, I want to make a note about demographics as this is very important. I strongly believe in a representative democracy (like what we have in South Africa) So for instance - Muslims make up two percent of the population in South Africa while Christians make up around 75 percent. With this in mind, we can see how the SABC caters for these two religions in terms of broadcasting time allocated - Christians get more time. I have no problem with this whatsoever because we still have Diversity and proportionate representation. In America 80 percent of the population is Caucasian. Only ten percent of the population is African American. I would argue that it actually seems like there are more African Americans than there really are due to the impressions given by American broadcasting. Heres another thing to note - Hollywood has no mandate (unlike the SABC) to provide any sense of diversity whatsoever - Hollywood is primarily motivated by an economic factor. We can also see parallels in the fashion Industry (Research shows that Black cover models lead to weaker sales of magazines - again - this is consumer driven)
In that regard, your hypothesis holds weight, i.e - to make a Blockbuster movie, don't have any African American leads. But is this a case of racism in Hollywood per se? I dont think so. The history of Hollywood cinema is peppered with movies that reflect the current era or that age. Look at Blaxpoitation Cinema as an example.
Now lets look at the top ten and take it from there.
There are only three movies that break the Billion dollar mark (In the unadjusted list)
I wouldn't expect Titanic to have a Black lead as that will be highly implausible. Firstly, it was set in 1912. Secondly, the ship set sail from England where there weren't many Blacks in the first place at that time. Finally - even though there were Inter racial romances back then. This was done in secret as any type of Public affection led to lynching etc. This subject is touchy today - can you imagine how it would have been 80 years ago. I mean, Even Rosa Parks was 40 years later.
2 and 7. LOTR - Return of the King/Two Towers - Again - hard to mess with the source material. Middle earth was envisaged by Tolkien as a surrogate for the lack of Anglican mythology (as opposed to Greek or Roman mythology) And before anyone comes up with the ridiculous idea that Orcs represent Black people, they aren't even the same species as Men.
3 and 5. Pirates of the Caribbean - Taking into account weaponry and the East Indian trading company (which is fictitious by the way) I'd place the trilogy at around 1810 or so. With this historical context we can see why it would be improbable to have a Black lead - Black Captains were rare those days. What you will probably see coming out of my crude research is the subordination and oppression of the Black Man throughout history (as opposed to throughout Hollywood specifically) Also, bear in mind that all positions of Authority were held by White Men - Elizabeths dad was the Governor of Jamaica etc
4 and 6. Harry Potter - again - sticking to the source material. Ask Rowling why none of her Lead characters are Black
8 - Star Wars Episode 1 - This is actually a prequel of the 1970s stuff and since the only major (I wouldnt even say major) Black role was that of Lando Calrissian (I stand to be corrected - my Star Wars knowledge isnt that strong) Star Wars Episode one couldnt really do much in this sense - I mean, you cant have Anakin having Black parents now could you? In Star Wars defense, they did cast Samuel L Jackson as a Jedi I think. Oh yeah - Vader isnt Black (for those who think he is)
9 Shrek 2 - Eddie Murphy plays the role of Donkey - high Five
10. Jurassic Park - Allahu Alam. Again - hard to mess around with Chrictons original (the novel). I googled Black Paleontologist - theres only a handful. So that rules out that. Also - Hammond is one wealthy mofo. Have a look at the Forbes 400 - No Black Billionaires prior to 2001 (When BETs founder Bob Johnson made the list) So it would have been unrealistic to cast a Black actor for that role. I can see the irony in saying this, especially since the movie itself deals with dinosaurs.
I can exhaust this topic further looking at other media like Video Games, comic books, cartoons etc but I'l stop now as I think have already typed too much. This has been a fun post, and is reminiscent of the type of questions my students ask me. I really enjoy answering stuff like this. So thanks Archtype. Anon 2- I havent forgotten about you - I will do a post on the Conference and the Fatwas this week as well.
Just to put World Cinema into perspective - The highest grossing Bollywood film 'Om Shanti Om' (unadjusted for inflation) made just 20 million dollars. And even if you took the adjusted list which places Sholay at the top - this movie made just 55 million dollars which is about a quarter of what it took to make Titanic!

Concerning Kings 3

I'd like to call this blog - Photography of Saf. Saf is a great mate of MJ's and is talented in so many ways but photography isnt one of them. Its ok Saf, you still rock dude. The above pic cracks me up - Waseem looks like a night nurse handing Haamish some soup, Joe looks like shes playing solitaire, the guy in the background looks like he is part of Final Destination 4 and is about to get his head cleaved in with the tomahawk. I have no idea what i'm doing in the shot. All the shots are like this :) Abstract comes to mind :P

Friday, June 27, 2008

Concerning Oranges


I didn't have anything to do this Wednesday so I decided to take a drive and distribute some food (Usually I reserve this for Thursdays after my lectures or the weekend but campus is closed now so I have some free time) Just two things I want to mention about the Feeding Initiative
1 - I wasnt happy with the bunny Chows I was getting for 3 Rand (It was described as 'coloured bread') so what I want to do instead is pay the usual amount (4 rand each) but this way I can demand quality - I want to distribute food that I would eat myself and also - ive been thinking alot about this hadith
Narrated by Anas (RA): Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “No one of you becomes true believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The downside is that I have to cut down on a few bunnies a week, but I don't know - what are your thoughts?
2 - This type of initiative should have some sort of ripple effect on other sectors therefore I'm going to support street vendors and hawkers instead of the bigger franchises out there - again - there is a problem - I might get the stuff slightly cheaper at Fruit and Veg city (economies of scale etc) but I think we should help the little guy out. Again - I am open to suggestions.
Its the winter season now and we all need as much vitamin C as we can get - Oranges are a great source of vitamin C so with that in mind this week I distributed oranges amongst two communities (Two Informal settlements in Reservoir Hills)
140 oranges in Mjs boot :)
Distributed five bags (pockets?) at the first settlement. My intention was to give them all there but there were more oranges than people so I went to another settlement further up. This was a much more galvanising (I don't want to use the word satisfying because the last thing I want to do is distribute food with pride in my heart) experience as the settlement was very quiet - so I went door to door giving them out. We hardly appreciate the stuff we have until we see grown women scrambling for a few fruit. To me it was just an orange, something to juggle when I'm passing time, but to these people it was so much more. All in all, seven bags were distributed.

I'd like to thank all the bloggers who have contributed in some way to this initiative. I have approached some companies as well to help out - This has to be sustainable - I don't want it to be a once off thing. If you want to contribute - please e-mail me for my banking details.

Also - for those who are curious as to how this works - its really simple. I use whatever money I get to buy food and I personally distribute it so that way theres no middle man or admin costs or anything like that. Usually I buy thirty Bunny Chows a week, but if anyone would like to help with distribution or would like to sponsor food or something, let me know.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed in some way.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Concerning Yo Momma! (The Sequel)

I had a lot of fun a few months ago coming up with some Muslim Yo Momma Jokes so today I'm thinking - let me try something a bit different and have some new media Yo Momma jokes (what can I say - I love media studies) I haven't given this much thought - the idea just came to me so I'll add a few for now and think about it when I get home from supper tonight.
  • Yo Momma so fat, her Facebook profile pic takes a minute to load
  • Yo Momma so fat, her mouse is a Capyburra
  • Yo Momma so unpopular that when she logs onto mxit, The Info Bot puts up the 'Away' status
  • Yo Momma so ugly people keep sending her pic to
  • Yo Momma so dumb she thought ADSL was a sexually transmitted disease
  • Yo Momma so ugly, the MIRC group Islam had to open a new channel for her called Isyuck
  • Yo Momma so slutty that all her URLS automatically end with .org
  • Yo Momma so fat I crashed the Internet when I searched for her in Google Images
  • Yo Momma so dumb she thought Gtalk was how 50 Cent communicated with Eminem

I'm such a Media Geek :)

As always - you are welcome to come up with your own as long as you know that all this is just for fun and I'm not picking on anyones mum. The only condition is that it has to be New Media related.

Love and Peace


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Concerning Blue Scarves

I really like this post by Waseem , and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (I prefer it to the first Narnia) I'm a little keen about the media (just a little), and what has always fascinated me is how we engage with a text. There is the intended message (preferred meaning) but since we all bring our own experiences into the equation, our interpretations are unique. There might be similar experiences (which is what the industry aims for anyway) but no two people have the same exact experience. Consider this piece to be both a homage to the Great One as well as an example of how even though the text (In media terms, any piece of data is called a text and this includes but is not limited to movies, games, newspaper articles, radio broadcasts etc) is the same, the interpretation is different.

Caspian (looking to his left)- Lets get this revolt over with quickly - Bakri Eid is coming up and I feel it'll get awkward

Caspian - Come on Lads - its not too late to cash in on the LOTR craze - Fellowship pose everyone. Perfect everyone, perfect. Peter and Edmund - Stop looking like two Griffindor rejects and stand properly. Suzie, you're on Legolas duty so stand next to the dwarf. Perfect - Now all we need are some warrior trees and we're good to go.

King Miraz - what you think of the resistance Saddam?

Saddam Hussein - I don't know why but that Centaur is giving me a bulge

King Miraz - This feels familiar. Captain, keep an eye out for Ghosts and Giant Elephants

Eighty Kilos...of Body.... Armour... cant lift arm... higher...

King Miraz (out of breath) Whoooh. I cant take it anymore - Take all this shit off me, what do I look like to you huh? Iron Man?

Caspian - Avert ye Eyes you Perv. Stop staring at my Hilt

(MJ's side note - this pic is just so so wrong!)

Doctor Cornelius - You know, I could have been the next Dumbledore, but instead I get caught in this silly parody!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Concerning Cookies

One of my pet peeves is when we are told by Ulema that we cannot do something merely because it is 'Tashabbuh bil kuffar' (imitating the West) This is a blog on its own so I wont go into details here, suffice to say - No one told me it is wrong to imitate the East, so with that in mind - Lets take Fortune cookies and make them 'halal'. I think If I had a fortune cookie company, my cookies will look something like this

Firstly, The prophecy is always right, and secondly - you can apply it to any question. I originally had Arabic but I feel the transliteration gives it a wider appeal. Did I mention that my cookies will not be Sanha approved. That'l eat into my profits son. On a more serious note, Fortune Cookies with hadith does seem like a good idea - none of the hardcore stuff like anything from Sahih Bukhari book 82 about chopping off hands (Take it in context). Stuff anyone can apply immediately, like 'Even a smile is Charity'.

Or maybe we can go a little extreme - Instead of calling it Fortune Cookies we can call it Fatwa cookies. Ive come across websites that have a widget and when you click it you get a random Fatwa. Who knows - it might benefit someone.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Concerning Celluloid

Had this discussion with a friend

From all the movies you've seen, which character firstly, embodies all that you like to be, and secondly, which character is most like you?

Think about it. I'm still trying to figure out who I am. Any suggestions for Mj?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Concerning Facebook

Following The Great Ones List, Here are ten things I hate about facebook. I was guilty of at least one before (Back in May last year when it was just starting to take off) but I have since repented (Not in a religious sense now) I'm not judging anyone. This, like everythig else on my blog are merely my concerns.

1. Invites for stupid Applications

I worked out that Facebook has about 28000 applications. The vast majority of which suck. Yet I am constantly being invited for dumb applications, most of which dont even make sense. I mean 'Take this quiz to see what colour eyes you have'. Have you heard of a mirror? No need to take a quiz for that one sunshine. Heres another one - 'what type of crap are you?' Seriously now. There are probably ten apps that add something to the experience, thats it.

2. Random Invites

If there is one thing that Facebook can be blamed for is totally destroying the concept of 'friends'. I get invites from someone in America, so I ask them, 'do we know each other?' and they're like 'Well, our surnames are the same so I thought I'd invite you. Do you know how often I get this! My surname is Khan, thats a pretty common surname, but sharing a surname isnt what I'd call 'common interests'. In that case I should accept invitations from people who wear size ten shoes as well. Hey hey - isnt that something we share in common as well? Yes, I have many friends who I have met over the internet, and I'm always keen for new friends but you cant just go about randomly inviting people. Create a Rapport or something first and take it from there.

3. People who think their friend list is an indication of actual Popularity

This chap was boasting to me that his friend list is sitting at 1200 people. Popular guy you would think, maybe he should run for president. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt until I got few messages from my friends asking 'who the hell is this guy who just invited me?' Random Invite Alert - You cant just go around inviting every single person on someones lists. When did opposable thumbs become a dealmaker? Whats the use of having scores of facebook friends if you cant find four to carry your janaaza when you drop dead from the sheer weight of Indifference. Funny how it works hey - In real life these people would just be strangers, but all we need these days is an Internet connection.

4. People who create stupid groups

You could probably pleasure your neighbours dog, I mean, you are equipped for it, but just because you can do something doesn't mean you have to. You can stick your finger into a blender as well, but I dont recommend it. Similarly, while you can create a group for just about anything, why would you want to? Maybe i'm being harsh - if it makes you happy, create a bunch off dumb groups - but dont invite me to them. I dont care if you think Goldfish make better lovers than Guppies or any bullshit like that - they are frikkin fish dammit.

5. People with Constant Lovey Dovey/ Suicidal Status Messages

Jesus Christ - have you heard of subtlety? I might be jaded, but I doubt i'm the only one who doesn't like this? Notice I put a backslash between the two types. Both are irritating. The occasional Goth/emo status update is cool - we all go through moments like that, but to have nothing but morbidness in your status updates screams 'Attention seeker'.

6. People who Invite Celebrities as facebook Friends

Heres another thing I dont get - unless you have met the Celebrity, or have had some type of correspondence with them (Autographed Pics dont count) They arent your friend. And having them on your List doesnt make you cooler. Rowan Atkinson doesn't give a crap about you. Inviting Celebrities to raise your coolness is gay. Dont be Gay!

7. Getting tagged in pics without your consent

Here's something that baffles me. If I want to tag myself in someones pic I have to wait for their permission before the tag is allowed, but anyone uploading a pic can tag me in it and it'l appear on all the mini feeds before Ive even seen it. Thats bullshit.

8. Funwalls and Superwalls

This is the same shit you get in Forwarded messages and spam. Why would you want it at all.

9. Facebook makes stalking easier

We've all done this at one point or the other- Spied on our Significant Other or checked up on our ex to see who they flirt with. Paranoia will eat you up inside. If you broke up - Let it go. I doubt anything you read is going to cheer you up, unless you notice that they've joined a Church somewhere, taking vows of celibacy and do nothing but pine for you. And if they did - what are they doing on Facebook?

10. People whose Profile Pages slow down South Africas Internet

Heres a tip - if you are one of the offenders, trim some of the bullshit apps that you have on your profile. Facebook eats bandwidth like an Mj eats buffalo wings, and the last thing I want is my cap being blown as I wait three minutes for your page to load. And thats not all, because after it loads, I have to navigate through all the shit to find your wall. Treat these apps like Pubic hair - keep it to a bare minimum because no one is interested in that part anyway.

I did a post last year on Indians on facebook. Here is the link for any new readers who might be interested

Monday, June 02, 2008

Concerning Spaghetti

The Electrifying, The Great and The Concerned - Mesmerised by the power of Apple.

I think we as bloggers are a very close-knit community (The S.A muslim bloggers at least) and there are some that stand out like constellations. Saaleha is one of them. She is one of those bloggers that leave their mark on you. You know the type i'm talking about - they have a unique way of writing, and you can tell that they have passion for this lore. Remember the old song - Video killed the radio star? Well, in a sense facebook killed the blogging star in that blogging lost its novelty value for some. As such, they stopped blogging altogether (Others got married but I guess we'l forgive them:P).

I had the pleasure of meeting Saaleha on Saturday. It was mostly just Saaleha, The Great One and MJ but it was tremendous fun. Luckily, you dont need numbers to have a good time. We popped into the Apple store to buy something for her hubby and we fooled around with the Mac and got a whole lot of hilarious pics. Good memories. Good Times.

Yesterdays Muslim fair was alot of fun. I accidentally kicked a ball into a guys face while I was on stage, but apart from that it was awesome. I got to buy some red Chinese Peaches. I remember Gunston 2006, I gave this really pretty chick some peaches, and she gave me this weird look, like 'What the hell man'. I guess pretty girls expect roses or something.

Finally, I want to get into the T Shirt Business. Ive designed a few t-shirts already (with Haseena helping out with the hardcore graphic design - I wish I knew how to use photoshop - The graphic design guys always get more attention that the copywriters it seems) And I have a new supplier who will take care of printing. What I wanna know is - do you think there will be a market for it? Ive done some Muslim Inspired Tees, so i'm thinking of selling them at a fair or something. Also did a few controversial ones. Like my SANHA T Shirt - Its got the SANHA logo on it, but instead of halaal in arabic its Haraam and instead of South African Halaal Authority, it says 'Selling and Negotiating Halaal Accreditation'. I know that someone has already changed Sanha to Satan or something like that, but I really want my t shirts to have some sort of social commentary. Kind of like the laugh out loud tops.

Also did a Gandhi T shirt that i think folks might like, as well as some Tops for campus students. I'm thinking of selling them at Fifty Rand each. Not a career change or anything - Just something I want to try. At the very least, I'l have extra tops to sleep in so its all good.


Dont forget - fill your days with random acts of kindness. Dont expect anything back. The reward is there. Its always there.