Perspective: The State of Local Filmmaking in the Arab Gulf
If I mention regional television shows and music videos, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? In my case, let’s just say that I feel that regional television shows and music videos are simply a big cliché. Some may beg to differ, and yet most of the time, it seems to be the same recurring images over and over again; TV shows with women’s face caked in makeup, and music videos with the most awkward dance routines. There seems to be a certain trend in every plot line, peculiar story lines that are utterly depressing or boring. When it really comes down to it, it is the same old story.
Let’s take it one step at a time. Frankly speaking, most regional music videos make me cringe, leave me concerned, and make me wish someone would stab me in the face with a fork if this is what has become of us. If you find yourself with free time on your hands, compare our regional music videos with Western video clips from the late 80s and 90s. Trust me, you will find so many tacky similarities. Maybe at that time it was considered cool, but fortunately for us, we live in the twenty-first century so how about we try to keep it classy?
When comparing regional music videos with recent rap and R&B videos, I personally see a link when it comes to dancing women. I do not think they understand the term “Less Is More,” but instead choose to take an over the top approach. It may be appealing to some viewers, but I do not see the point in watching regional music videos, much less television shows. Another recurring theme is men being surrounded by dozens of women, or a woman chasing a guy. The problem here is that with all the things happening in the video, you become too distracted from actually listening to the song. You’re just too shocked by what is happening right in front of you!
I want to see something painfully unique; I want to see a different approach. I want to get so immersed with the video clip and feel that my brain cells have been somewhat perked up by the images before me. Now that is not to say I think all regional music videos are horrible; there are some music videos that are reasonable and somewhat amusing, and some that are well produced. Though I must admit they’re few and far between.
Moving on to television shows. First, I want to congratulate the current rise in attention towards shows, programming, screenplays, and filmmaking in the region. A number of enthusiasts are following their passion and are studying the history behind filmmaking by taking courses and attending film schools to learn more about the industry. More and more young individuals are going into creative fields, and thus I deem the future of television and film in the region to be bright and will be taking a turn towards the bigger and better.
That being said, we are still experiencing the same phenomenon with regional television shows. They are ridiculously dramatic and sometimes horrifying! I do not know about you, but sometimes I watch these shows and think if people like that really existed within twenty or even a hundred km radius from me, I would probably lock myself up in my room all day.
Kudos to the shows that highlight underlying social issues that the general population is too worried to address, and to the shows that highlight the magnificence of the region’s history, civilization, and development. There are so many interesting topics and storytelling angles that can be emphasized in our television shows, so why aren’t they using them?
I believe that the melodramatic, depressing TV shows need to come to an end. We know misery loves company, but what if we are done with wanting to see misery and depression? Those negative images and connotations that many of the TV shows carry are not healthy for us, or for our future generations, let alone the dishonest portrayal of our countries to those not living in them. Images transmitted by television shows can have an impact on people, their thought process and more importantly, their children. There are a number of scholarly research documents that support this issue. Television shows do have the ability to affect real life behavior.
I would like to keep encouraging the young and the upcoming filmmakers of our time to start transmitting messages of happiness and positivity; to create shows on how we can make this an ideal place to live in; to teach us messages of love, forgiveness and compassion and how important these things are. Instead of always portraying women as victimized or evil, let us portray women as pillars of society, voices of the future.
Let us try to Inspire, motivate and encourage. A happier populace is a more progressive one.
– Sharifa Al-Badi
Illustration by Aysha Al-Houli
This article first appeared in the July/Aug/Sep 2012 Entertainment Issue. To view or order the print issue, visit our MagCloud page.