Okay. So I finally saw the much-touted, much-promoted Nadine Labki film – ‘Where to now’. I thought it would be okay, possibly good.
It was superficial, offensive, sexist, and orientalist. It promoted dangerous ideas. Plus, it was blatantly emotionally manipulative. And filled with cliches.
(1) There is this village – idyllic – where Christians and Muslims live side by side. Problems erupt from the ‘outside’ – from outside this isolated village. Thus, the idea is: it is “their” fault. The crime begins from ‘out there.’
(2) There is no context, whatsoever, to conflict. No context. Violence erupts out of stupidity, a stupidity that is encouraged by ‘those outside’. End of story. Even though, in this village, Christians and Muslims live side by side, they erupt, like neurotic idiots, by the simplest potential ‘slight.’
(3) There is constant talk of “co-existence.” Discussion of “co-existence” emphasis that there is “an other” – that ‘you’ and ‘I’ are separate from each other, and thus not a real community. Rather, discussions of ‘co-existence’ presents the village (which is symbolic of our country) as two communities in one. A paradigm that has also been significantly promoted.
(4) Ignorance is promoted. Newspapers are burned. Knowledge of the outside could lead to more violence. Let’s not watch the news. Let’s learn nothing. Let’s dig our heads further into the sand and just hope everything will go away. Which leads us to point number 5.
(5) Problems are not solved. They are covered. Men act crazy, because of their inherence tendency to stupidity, because of their ever-ready, gun-ready nature. Want to solve the problem? You can’t. You must illude the men. Fool them. Either distract them with a false miracle. Or drug them. Or use sex.
(6) Sex. Women: don’t use your own sex. Don’t empower your own sexuality by refraining from sleeping with your violent-prone, irrational, stupid men. No. Why should you? Rather, bring in prostitutes to do the work. The film blatantly promoted prostitution. Excused prostitution. Excused the trafficking of women, and, yes, trafficking, the enforced slavery of women. Even in the film itself, the pimp for the Eastern European prostitutes told them they would not “get a dime” – they would not even be paid for their services. For a movie written and directed by a woman to excuse and promote prostitution is even more offensive. And inexcusable. All the more inexcusable since Lebanon is guilty of trafficking in women.
(7) Women are innocent. Yes, women committed no crimes. Wait: didn’t women, some women at least, take part in the civil war in Lebanon? Didn’t women, some women at least, carry guns and kill people? Yes. And aren’t these women also mothers, raising their sons? Yes. So, either women are innocent and impotent in raising their boys to be good men, or women are hypocritical. Either way, the paradigm is false. No gender has a monopoly on violence. Just as no gender has a monopoly on irrationality or stupidity.
(8) Men of cloth are innocent. Religious men are innocent. They stood up to stop violence (but were also impotent and thus had to resort to the games of women). Really? They were innocent? During the civil war, weren’t men, representing religions, both Christian and Muslim, support and endorse the violence? Didn’t they even promote it? And since, haven’t they promoted further sectarian divisions and further violence? Yes. Some of them are innocent. And some are quite damn guilty.
(9) The problem can never be solved. Despite all the games, despite all the drugs, sex, miracles, manipulations, etc, despite the Christians becoming Muslim and the Muslims becoming Christian (only superficially since they can’t determine how to bury the boy – in the Christian or Muslim gravesite), the problem can still not solved. The women — the intelligent voice of this village — still can’t come up with a solution. That’s how the film ends. We are inherently pathetic. Nothing can be done. Violence will remain cyclical.
(10) Why was this film so heavily promoted in Lebanon? So heavily promoted by Marcel Ghanem – who devoted more than 3 hours to the film on his talk show? Because it promotes the destructive paradigms. It further maintains the much-accepted concept: hayda nehna, hayda jawna. i.e. we have always been this way; it cannot be changed. So – keep those guns.
(11) Why is this film so loved in Europe? It promotes the very images of us that the Europeans already accept and love to hold dear. What images does the film promote? Stupid, violent-prone men. Women using sex – actually other women’s sex – to distract the men. Violence that is inherent to the region and cannot be solved but only temporarily covered. And: when you watch the film, made by those crazy, neurotic Lebanese/Arabs, you can get to feel better about yourself without feeling the teeniest bit racist.
Plus – in addition to those 11 points, the film was poorly made. It was littered with cliches. Dripping with superficial images, images designed to be emotionally manipulative.
Want more? Most of the ideas were stolen. Stolen from films – American and Iranian and Greek films. Yet another act of Lebanese plagiarism touted as genius.
Again: what is most offensive about this film is how much it has been liked – not just by some of the people in the theatre, but by so-called intellectuals. Quite sad. Quite problematic.