Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street - hypocrite's cut

Great - a day off to nurse the well earned head courtesy of the 1,514th birthday of the Prophet so I took myself quietly to the cinema. Now here in Muscat there is usually worse than extremely bugger all on to watch unless you like loud noisy boom boom bang bang films aimed at excitable gangs of 12 year old boys brought up on inappropriate video games. Or maybe you have a penchant for loud and noisy Bollywood. If so, then Muscat is good place to be. As such, I've virtually stopped looking at the local film cinema guides as there has, for me in my philistine way,  been so little point.  However I recently heard tell that a new Scorcese film was in town so that had to be good. Moreover, it was a chance midweek to watch a film, The Wolf of Wall Street, away from the TV screen. All good.

The Muscat cinema experience is always er...fun but I have got used to the chomping, crunching, late arrivals, small children and the cursed use of phones. I can live with that. I can even tolerate the rancid cheap stench of nachos and glowing industrial cheese. I know that scenes of an ...er...adult nature are usually inexpertly cut and, but as I get older,  I often think that they do not add much to a decent narrative. What I was not expecting though was that Mummy had decided to cut all the swearing, although they did uselessly miss quite a few words to giggles. Fools.  At first I thought it might be some new smart Scorcese style editing but now realise that it was done to protect the sensitive ears from such terrible and offensive language. I am not sure who they were trying to protect as, in my experience, the youth of the world are pretty fluent at basic English / American swearing.

Yet, the Wise Ones who distribute the film to the oh so sensitive souls of the Gulf have deemed that the scenes involving boozing - those Martinis and red wines sure looked good - the drug taking - less good - those could stay. Completely haram and nasty to the average subject here, supposedly anyway. Yet those irreligious scenes were all left in but as the protagonist is a Jewish American Mummy, (or should it be Daddy?) may have thought that is was OK to leave in? I have since read in The National over in the noisy,  UAE that Daddy there was responsible for the cutting out of 45 mins  - 25% of the film. Why bother? It concerns the sort of glitz, classlessness and excess that has built that nation. Yet they also left in a telling scene in which cousin marriage, the norm in the region, was duly examined, laughed and sneered at by the di Caprio character to uncomfortable giggles among the audience.

So you know what you are getting. Not the original reasonably well-reviewed film but one which has been hacked, not well re-edited and qualitatively different to what you were supposed to be getting. Perhaps for the oh so super-sensitive children of the Gulf it should be retitled The Wolf of Wall Street - The Hypocrite's Cut?

Just a thought.

Monday, 6 January 2014

It's all god's will innit?

Road rage never had it - always other people - driving is driving is driving. I am of course the best driver going, never had an accident on car or motorbike and all the other blah in a 100 years of driving. I could take the rubbish driving of parts of Asia and most of the Arab world in which I have been with an amused and cheery wry smile - not least as they make good stories. Hereabouts, you can always throw in the Will of the Most Munificent but very angry local unknowable divinity back at folk who bemoan the death of a friend when he, for it is mostly a he,  almost certainly wasn't wearing a seat belt provided for by the same thoughtful one and given the freedom to drive a Very Big Car like a young teenage twat even though he maybe 30.

I digress - for the first time in my life I stopped my car mid-road nearly causing the work bus tailgating me at too high a speed down a homeward bound busy road. Usually you just ignore it as part of what goes on and carry on your merry way home singing along to your music. However, the foul fool had been flashing me for the previous mile or two desperate to be ahead of me in the busy line despite the lack of much movement or any open road or option for me to change lanes as there is only lane ill-discipline. I carried and stopped safely at the lights of course, which here are optional, and in Malcolm Tucker mode calmly strode out and I politely bashed on the driver's side door which he warily opened and gave a volley of fluent Spanish abuse which needed no translation. The cretin, head down,  didn't answer,  had lost face, the Bangladeshi semi-slave workers I suppose being taken back to their rotten quarters, were struggling to hide their sniggering a (a small victory in their exploited lives) for the beltless twatty driver had lost face to an obvious infidel (which must never happen) and worse still in front of them, the Derided, the Used,  the Exploited co-religionists. Best of all as culture dictates, said driver had to ever so humbly apologise which is better than getting the punch in the mouth I would have possibly got back home.

...and why launch the magnificent volley in Spanish? Well, on the Middle Eastern rumour circuit there are terrible tales, sometimes in the unreliable press,  of  folk being jailed for road rage finger giving and of course English swearing is one of our finer exports which can also land you in trouble with Plod whereas life threatening driving seems to gain respect. This is ungood, double plus ungood indeed and certainly a sign of something. There are plenty of clips of Drifting online which is a popular past time among bored youth here

The backed up traffic hadn't really noticed and it was all over before the lights changed. Road rage really isn't done, and rightly so, doing  it as a guest worker in a foreign country, albeit one with a gold  level passport, is just rude like being a bad guest in someone else's country like the many expats who regularly drink to excess and drive.  Driving like a tosser with the divine wind of a well-known deity behind you is an accepted part of the ...er....culture or so it seems. It is, I believe, the highest cause of death among the under 30s in the Gulf. So why did I allow my usual amused cool to be lost and become a rude and crass expat wanker? Pulling over was not possible - signalling and slowing down are not part of the macho compensating-for-a-little-dick road culture so worryingly I guess I saw red and allowed my inner- arrogant scumbag expat to emerge.