No more new episodes of LOST this Thursday

April 9, 2008 § Leave a comment

So, that means you can come listen to a talk from Iraqi poet and activist Sinan Antoon on the University of Texas campus. The talk is titled “Debris and Diaspora: Iraqi Culture Now.” Here’s a quote from an interview he did with Democracy Now in 2007:

AMY GOODMAN: And your response to proposals like those of Senator Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, to divide Iraq up, forget trying to keep it together, let there be a place of the Shia, a place of the Sunni, a Kurdistan?

SINAN ANTOON: I even wrote an article about that. First of all, it is not up to Senator Biden or any other senator to tell Iraqis how they should live their lives or divide their country. That’s number one.

Number two is the problem of this perspective of Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. It’s been repeated ad nauseum so that now it seems real. The fact is, these categories are not functioning categories, as well. And these are the product of the United States’ imperialist look upon Iraq. Sadly, since the invasion and because of the political system that Bremer put in place, he turned these ethno-religious identities into political identities, because they put the quota system in the governing council. But ten or fifteen years ago, people did not define themselves primarily as Sunni or Shiite and Kurds, you know. There were other kinds of identifications.

But, about LOST. The Washington Post did a “March Madness”-type bracket to determine the audience’s favorite character. Out of 64 characters, it came down to a battle between the Scottish character Desmond and the “Iraqi” character Sayid.

Of course, ABC did not choose an Arab to play the Arab character. They chose British-born (possible Indian roots) Naveen Andrews, as seen here in the English Patient:

And here, looking all sweaty and torturey on the beaches of LOST:

Sayid did not win the LOST bracket, but he did have some impressive victories over some other popular characters which at least shows that Sayid is not only a central character in LOST, but he is also well-liked. Besides the ultimate cop-out of ABC hiring an Indian actor to play an Iraqi, Sayid is an attractive character because he possesses some of the most admirable characteristics: He is loyal; He has useful skills; And he is courageous.

I fell into ABC’s trap, but there are still major issues I have with Sayid’s character. One, in his non-island life, he was a “torturer” for the Republican Guard. He tortured hundreds of people and then, on the island, he tortured some more people. He is the only character with a military background and there are repeated references to Sayid being a “torturer.” I don’t think this takes away from his affability, but it is a well-trodded stereotype.

I’m sure there is much more to be said about this, but I’ll just leave you with this photo of Sawyer from his pre-LOST days. He was the guy that stole Alicia Silverstone’s purse in the Cryin’ Aerosmith video! Thanks to this person for the find.

EVENT INFO

“Debris and Diaspora: Iraqi Culture Now” Thursday, April 10 at 7PM in the Pharmacy Building (PHR) 2.114
“الشيوعي العراقي الاخير” Friday, April 11 at 11AM in the Chicano Culture Room in the Texas Union.


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