Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blacklists & Boycotts Part I: Egypt

One of the less urgent stories out of Tahrir over the past month was that of Egyptian pop star and heartthrob Tamer Hosny. The hapless singer, already saddled with one-half of an aging autocrat's name, made a big mistake when he called in to an Egyptian talk show during the early days of the protests. Poor Tamer not only defended Mubarak, calling on protesters to return home, but sobbed audibly. Although I cannot confirm this - the audio quality on those youtube recordings is just poor enough to confuse me - many say he even referred to Mubarak as "Papa." Perhaps Tamer internalized the paternalistic rhetoric of Mubarak's regime.

When Tamer later attempted to apologize and speak to the crowd in Tahrir Square about his confusion and change of heart, the crowd not only booed him off the stage but kicked him out of the square entirely. Soon, another teary Tamer video appeared on the web.

Tamer's reception in Tahrir - and a flood of anti-Tamer tweets - prompted Khaled Said admin Wael Ghonim to remind the protesters that they should be understanding and forgiving to those who have had a change of heart. It was a noble statement from Ghonim, but probably did little to convince those who saw all of Tamer's tears - for or against Mubarak - as cynical PR moves.

In the meantime, websites and Facebook groups appeared to document which celebrities either maintained close relations with the Mubarak family or actively supported them during the "January 25 Revolution," as some are calling it. Other big names appear on those lists, such as the ubiquitous film actor Adel Imam, who has appeared in a number of controversial and critical movies over the years. It is hard to imagine an Egypt that truly turns its back on Adel Imam. One wonders if a revolutionary hard-liner would have any movies left to watch, particularly since a number of the names on these blacklists-in-progress belong to other prominent actors.

For now, the blacklists are not attached to any comprehensive calls to action. It is up to the individual to decide whether or not she can now stomach the crooning of a man who cried for Mubarak on national television.


Nabeel said...

The revolution is as good a reason as any to nudge Adel Imam toward retirement. There comes an age when slapstick comedy loses its charm. Will Smith realized that and moved on from the Fresh Price to serious roles. Adel Imam chose to follow the Eddie Murphy model until he was twice Eddie's age... here's to new beginnings!

Jessamy said...

Now, now...Adel Imam acts in every type of movie, not just comedies!
More seriously, though, I think an aging actor playing roles that rightfully belong to the next generation is as good a metaphor as any for the Mubarak regime, if not others. Maybe even a symptom of it...Adel Imam was/is not the only one. :-/