May 06, 2004

DON'T GET HIM STARTED ON GREASE II

Maybe you've never heard of the 1979 movie Ashanti. Robert Fisk has; in fact, as Blue Octavo reveals, Fisk is obsessed by what Michael Caine describes as the "worst, most wretched film I ever made". Here's Fisk's latest column:

Even today, we still show the revolting Ashanti on our television stations, a feature film about the kidnapping of the wife of an English doctor by Arab slave--traders, which depicts Arabs as almost exclusively child--molesters, rapists, murderers, liars and thieves. It stars -- heaven spare us -- Michael Caine, Omar Sharif and Peter Ustinov and was made partly in Israel.

And in 1999:

I had just arrived in the Middle Fast, more than 20 years ago, when I first saw, on television, the movie Ashanti. It starred Omar Sharif and Roger Moore and portrayed Arabs as slave-traders, murderers, child-molesters and sadists. The film was, said the credits, partly made on location in Israel.

And again last year:

Why do they still show Ashanti, a potboiler about the Arab slave trade that portrays Arabs much as The Protocols portray Jews: as venal, child-molesting murderers? (We shall forget that the Lebanese-born actor Omar Sharif acts in this vile movie.)

But don't forget that Ashanti was partly made in Israel! Move on, Bob. Isnít it time you condemned Jamie Farr's shameful performance in Cannonball Run?

(Via Damian Penny)

Posted by Tim Blair at May 6, 2004 02:25 PM
Comments

There's something you guys might not know, part of it was made in Israel.

Gives you something to think about, eh?

Posted by: Aaron at May 6, 2004 at 02:43 PM

Robert Fist, Leftard at large.

Phuck 'im.

Posted by: Mr. Bowen at May 6, 2004 at 02:45 PM

I thought that movie was made while he was in Vietnam.

No, dang it, now I'm confused!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 6, 2004 at 03:00 PM

What about that disgraceful tit-flash scene in Ishtar? And remember, one-half of the dual lead was jewish.

Malkovich...Malkovich...Malkovich...Malkovich

Posted by: S.A. Smith at May 6, 2004 at 03:00 PM

This outrage should also be condemned!!

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 6, 2004 at 03:01 PM

Um - isnt the slave trade run almost exclusively by Arabs?

Or is it 'racist' to mention this documented fact?

Posted by: dee at May 6, 2004 at 03:10 PM

So, is it worth seeing? The fact that Fisk hates it is a good recommendation, but it could still be a lousy movie, even if I agree with the politics.

Posted by: Jim Miller at May 6, 2004 at 03:11 PM

It isn't too bad a flick. Certainly it was not one of Caine's better jobs, but not his worse.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 6, 2004 at 03:17 PM

CurrencyLad, what outrage? The use of black and white film with such colorful costumes?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 6, 2004 at 03:26 PM

So what you're saying is, Fisk has been right about *one thing* in his whole damn career and he's just beating it to death...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at May 6, 2004 at 03:26 PM

I heard it was partly made in Israel.

Posted by: Sterling at May 6, 2004 at 03:38 PM

Don't forget Caine was also in _Zulu_, which spread the vicious slander that Zulus run fast.

Posted by: Zanzibob at May 6, 2004 at 03:45 PM

"It starred Omar Sharif and Roger Moore and portrayed Arabs as slave-traders, murderers, child-molesters and sadists."

That's too funny. Roger Moore isn't in it. Fisk is perhaps confusing him with Rex Harrison?

Harrison, of course, starred in "My Fair Lady", which cast despicable slurs on the English working class.

Posted by: James at May 6, 2004 at 04:10 PM

I think Robert Fisk is making an important point.

Despite what you think, only white people were slave traders. In fact, white people invented slavery.

Arabs never did anything bad ever.

An alternative opinion however:

"What these records show is that the modern slave trade flourished in the early middle ages, as early as 869, especially between Muslim traders and western African kingdoms. For moralists, the most important aspect of that trade is that Muslims were selling goods to the African kingdoms and the African kingdoms were paying with their own people. In many instances, no violence was necessary to obtain those slaves. Contrary to legends and novels and Hollywood movies, the white traders did not need to savagely kill entire tribes in order to exact their tribute in slaves. All they needed to do is bring goods that appealed to the kings of those tribes. The kings would gladly sell their own kins.
This explains why slavery became "black". Ancient slavery, e.g. under the Roman empire, would not discriminate: slaves were both white and black (so were Emperors and Popes). In the middle ages, all European countries outlawed slavery (of course, they retained countless "civilized" ways to enslave their citizens, but that's another story), whereas the African kingdoms happily continued in their trade. Therefore, only colored people could be slaves, and that is how the stereotype for African-american slavery was born. It was not based on an ancestral hatred of blacks, but simply on the fact that blacks were the only ones selling slaves, and they were selling their own kins.
Then the Muslim trade came to a stop when Arab domination was reduced by the Crusades."

Posted by: Bruce at May 6, 2004 at 05:01 PM

Hasn't Omar Sharif appeared recently in an Egyptian TV series remake of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", called "Knight without a Horse"? That would surely put him back into Fisk's good books.

Posted by: AC at May 6, 2004 at 06:00 PM

The Real JeffS wrote: "CurrencyLad, what outrage? The use of black and white film with such colorful costumes?"

Hope and Crosby's 'Road to Morrocco' (1942) relied on, and sent up, every cliche imaginable about Arab culture, people and settings. Hence the reference.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 6, 2004 at 06:05 PM

Just like all those awful war films.

The damn things always portray the
Germans losing.

Posted by: fred at May 6, 2004 at 06:23 PM

G'day Bruce,

You seem to be ignoring the taking of European slaves (or tribute) by muslim corsairs until the yanks stopped them in the early 1800s (even then they kept taking Slavs).

Black slavery didn't last much longer than white slavery.

Posted by: Russell at May 6, 2004 at 08:19 PM

Actually, black slavery continues, in Africa. But who cares about what goes on there, right? There are no Jews or Americans involved, so...

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 6, 2004 at 09:21 PM

Oops. Forgot my "sarcasm" tags.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 6, 2004 at 09:21 PM

Only Americans, Anglos and Jews are capable of evil Andrea, doncha know? Evil in Africa - slavery, mass murder, whatever - is more like a big, er, misunderstanding is all.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 6, 2004 at 09:52 PM

G'day Andrea,

Sorry, I was meaning the context of large scale international trafficking in bulk bodies - I did not mean to imply that slavery as an institution had come to an end. I was just attacking the peculiar, ahistoric idea that there was ever a time that slavery was just "a black thing."

While there are probably more black boys and girls being sold in Africa than white boys and girls being sold in the Balkans they both are an international disgrace.

Posted by: Russell at May 6, 2004 at 10:00 PM

"Rumble in the Bronx" was made in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is obviously part of the insidious Canadian plot to portray American cities as violence-ridden and so direct affluent immigrants to Canada.

There is one point on which Robert Fisk and I are in complete agreement: he thinks he deserved to be beaten to a pulp by an Afghan mob. I think he deserved to be beaten to a pulp by an Afghan mob, or for that matter, any other mob.

Posted by: Alex Bensky at May 6, 2004 at 11:55 PM
"...a feature film...which depicts Arabs as almost exclusively child--molesters, rapists, murderers, liars and thieves."
Yes, Mr. Fisk. And your point is? Posted by: Ernie G at May 7, 2004 at 12:32 AM

Famed WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle said pretty much the same things to say about the Arabs, too. Where there's smoke, etc.

Posted by: Latino at May 7, 2004 at 12:54 AM

Nice grammar there, Latino. Sheesh.

Posted by: Latino at May 7, 2004 at 12:55 AM

Cannonball Run kicked so much ass.

Posted by: Drake at May 7, 2004 at 01:34 AM

Excellent, is it out on DVD?

Posted by: Sarah at May 7, 2004 at 02:02 AM

"Hasn't Omar Sharif appeared recently in an Egyptian TV series remake of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

On the contrary, the most recent thing you could see him in (besides Hidalgo) is a French film called Monsieur Ibrahim, about the friendship between a Turkish restaurant owner and a Jewish boy in Paris. A pet project of Sharif, who is the very model of the worldly, tolerant Arab citizen we would all like to see more of. (Go to Npr.org and listen to the Fresh Air interview he recently did. He sounds like a great guy, in a 60s skirt-chasing movie star kind of a way.)

Posted by: Mike G at May 7, 2004 at 02:20 AM

I think Dubya should invite Fisk and Teddy Kennedy to a private screening of "Ashanti" at the White House, get them drunk, and film the results for his eventual library exhibits.

Posted by: geezer at May 7, 2004 at 05:14 AM

CurrencyLad, sorry, I should have inserted my "on/off sarcasm" tags.

I remember the show quite well. My father thought it was hilarious....and he served in North Africa during WWII.

Hmmmmm, now that I think about it, Dad never spoke badly of the Arab population, but he couldn't stand the French living there at the time.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 7, 2004 at 05:17 AM

God, geezer, I almost sprayed soda over my screen! LOL!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 7, 2004 at 05:19 AM

I guarantee you won't see it on GoreTV, either... of which Ace Of Spades has a new top ten list on.

Posted by: geezer at May 7, 2004 at 06:31 AM

Apparently Mr. Caine has forgotten he was in Jaws IV.

Posted by: Andrew at May 7, 2004 at 09:19 AM

Not to mention Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.

Posted by: Mike G at May 7, 2004 at 09:52 AM

Oooh! And The Swarm!

Posted by: Mike G at May 7, 2004 at 09:53 AM

Perhaps he has mercifully forgotten those films. Even I, deep in the midst of a Richard Chamberlain* crush in my youth, could not bring myself to watch The Swarm when it was shown on television (back in the days before videotape machines and cable).

*Yes, I figured out that he was gay quite some time ago, well before his autobiography was published, thank you ahead of time.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 7, 2004 at 10:38 AM

Real JeffS: Copy that. M Dad was in the Pacific and luckily managed to avoid any Frenchmen. I absorbed his love for Hope/Crosby watching Sunday afternoon re-runs.

Should have included some kind of "on/off obscure reference" tags.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 7, 2004 at 11:28 AM

The slave trade is still going on today. The Sudanese Arabs raid villages, kill the men, and take the women and children into slavery and sell them. Some of them survive the trip to the slave markets, but not all. The whole thing is open, and I hear that some of the victims are being sold into other Arab countries now.

The slave trade was put down in the 19th century by the British. I suspect it was one of the reasons for the Mahdi's revolt in the Sudan, the nasty Brits were interfering with the Arabs' Allah-given right to enslave the kaffirs. In a book called "The British Empire As a Superpower" which is a history of the Empire during the period between the wars, the author states that Royal Navy gunboats were still picking up slave dhows in the Red Sea during the mid-1920s.

Now the Arabs are at it again. I suspect the trade casts its net wider than Africa. Not long ago MEMRI had a piece about a classified ad in a Saudi newspaper. The guy who inserted the ad wanted to trade his 1991 car for a "servant girl", preferably not from Africa but from Sri Lanka. And, he noted, he would prefer she be "unused".

Posted by: Michael Lonie at May 7, 2004 at 12:43 PM

What film producer in their right mind would shoot anywhere else in the Middle East, especially in 1979?

Come on Fisk, you can figure this out. As you've reminded us several times, you have over 20 years of experience in the region...

Posted by: dr_dog at May 7, 2004 at 02:55 PM

>Move on, Bob. Isnít it time you condemned Jamie Farr's shameful performance in Cannonball Run?

Someone told me that Robert Fisk was actually Captain Chaos.

Posted by: JohnFNWayne at May 7, 2004 at 09:41 PM