Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Slaughter and forgetting

Only the political amnesia of Hollywood films about the Muslim world lets them be hits in the west

Lakshmi Chaudhry
Wednesday January 2, 2008
The Guardian

".....The release of The Kite Runner at the height of the holiday movie season no doubt showed a certain amount of chutzpah on the part of Hollywood, given its unfestive subject and cast of unknown Afghan and Iranian actors. Sadly, such marketing brio isn't matched by the movie itself, which is yet another dismal example of Hollywood's predilection for historical amnesia and political pandering, especially when it comes to stories about the Muslim world.....

The "story", however, is more than a little suspect. Both the novel and its faithful cinematic adaptation rely on a carefully edited version of political reality that enables western - or, more specifically, American - empathy with the other by absolving the self of all responsibility.

It isn't a coincidence that at a time when most Americans feel tremendous anxiety and uncertainty about our relationship with the Muslim world, the publishing industry has witnessed a boom in Islam-themed books that shift the attention away from "us" to "them". Books like The Kite Runner, The Bookseller of Kabul and Reading Lolita in Tehran painstakingly recreate details of native culture and history, and yet conveniently omit a long history of US involvement and intervention.....

Denial may be bad for the soul, but it's undeniably good for business."

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