ART & CULTURE
VOICE OF ASIA 20
FRIDAY, February 9, 2018
Satirizing the news a challenge in the age of Trump Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor barely raises the bar for children’s films in Pakistan A by Thomas Urbain
Did Allahyar meet expectations of better-than-before animation from Pakistan?
bsurdity and exaggeration, the two key ingredients of political satire, are no longer as effective in the age of Donald Trump and ‘fake news’ -- something that is forcing comedians and talk show hosts to adapt their craft to get a laugh.
News parody outlets such as The Onion, The Flipside, The Borowitz Report and a whole slew of others have all made a name for themselves by twisting the news to give it a humorous edge, openly mocking reality. The formula worked as a counterpoint to real news, but with the advent of Trump’s Twitter account and the explosion of fake news sites, the lines have become blurred. “The absurdity of our reality has completely outpaced anything the imagination could come up with,” said Andy Borowitz, who has been writing The Borowitz Report since 2001. by Mehreen Hasan hat are our expectations from an animated children’s movie made in
Humera Ejaz); a rather entitled snow leopard, Chakku (Abdul Nabi Jamali); and the always amorous Hero (Azfar Jafri), who’s a chukar, i.e., a partridge native to north Pakistan.
That the film should spark the imag-
Allahyar may check the above boxes, yet leaves a fair bit to be desired.
“So it would be futile for me to outdo the absurdities of our current situation,” he added. “I’m really more or less transcribing what is happening. And perhaps giving a slightly more blunt or unvarnished view,” he said. For all that, the need for people to laugh is even more pronounced than ever because, he said, “the situation we find ourselves in is so dire.” However, he notes that under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, the work had been more challenging for satirists since “the economy was improving and we had didn’t have any
A Trump fortune teller booth (Phjoto: Daily Mail UK) scandal at the White House and we had a president who was widely respected around the world, and was improving America’s image around the world.” In the age of ‘fake news’, he makes sure his column -- which now runs on The New Yorker’s website -- is clearly labeled as satire and runs in the humor section, lest anyone mistake his jokes for actual reporting. “It’s very clear that we’re not trying to fool anybody. We’re not trying to commit a hoax,” he said. - ‘A kernel of truth’ That is not the case with Christopher Blair, the mysterious figure behind a series of satirical websites such as The Last Line of Defense (thelastlineofdefense.online), which have attracted a
lot of attention over the past year. He told AFP that his sites were clearly marked as satire, but a number of factchecking websites have disputed that claim, and some have criticized him for peddling fake news for financial gain. In March, one of his articles claiming that an arrest warrant had been issued for Obama was picked up by dozens of other sites which presented it as real news. Blair defends his position, maintaining that it is clear to most people, and that he has been seeking “to target specific topics that we know will draw the worst the right has to offer into the public,” so that they “find themselves humiliated in front of their families and friends.” (-Daily Mail)
Why Pakistan and India are inevitably linked by literature ...and other consequences of the fledgling state of Pakistan’s publishing industry ination of its young viewers? That its story should inspire them? That its visuals should look better than Commander Safeguard? In Allahyar and The Legend of Markhor (Allahyar), an unlikely group unites in the jungles of north Pakistan to stop a pair of poachers — Mani (Ali Noor) and his reluctant sidekick Babloo Chacha (Arieb Azhar) — from hunting down markhors on the mountaintop of Sia Koh. This group consists of our young hero, Allahyar (Anum Zaidi); his spirited markhor friend, Mehru (Natasha
What people will recall is the film’s funny moments, like Hero the chukar, whose amourous antics are hilarious (even though they may be normalising harassment for the film’s young audience!). It was welcome relief to connect with and look forward to a character, especially in the absence of an emotional connection with the two main charcaters, Allahyar and Mehru. Equally funny is the appearance of a pair of rabbits (played by Parchi stars Hareem Farooq and Ali Rehman Khan). Don’t miss out. (-Dawn)
After Putin-In-Bullets, Exiled Ukrainian Artists “Coin” Donald Trump
EW YORK | AFP - They shot to fame in 2015 with a portrait of Vladimir Putin made of bullet shells from the killing fields of eastern Ukraine. Now, the two Ukrainian artists are back with a portrait of Donald Trump made from coins and poker chips. Threats forced Daria Marchenko, 35, and Daniel Green, 34, to leave
“I thought, ‘oh my God, you are so cheap, how can you be American president’?” says Green. “At that moment, I thought coins is the best way to show his portrait.” The duo deliberately chose one cent and five-cent pieces, the smallest denominations of US currency, to illustrate their point, Green explains.
by Faiqa Mansab
ublishing is a business. It’s all about numbers and if publishers can’t sell books, why would they invest in them? That is the story very briefly of publishing anywhere. In Pakistan, it gets worse. People who read in English for pleasure are snidely called ‘the elite’ because their numbers are abysmally low, not because everyone who reads in English is powerful and rich. English reading is distanced from the majority of readership culturally. Publishing in Urdu and regional languages is the only viable source for literary publishers because reading for pleasure constitutes a rather small section of the population and even smaller for books in English. Literary publishing in India, though, is leaps and bounds ahead of Pakistan, but encounters similar issues as far as distribution and reliable data gathering are concerned. Pakistan and India both have successful writers in English both homegrown and living in the UK or the US but most Pakistani writers are published abroad—in the UK and India and then the US and other English speaking countries—but Indian authors are being published in their own country as well as abroad. Their readership is much larger. The fact that Pakistani writers are not being published at home whereas Indian writers are, is often questioned and with the current mood of overt nationalism, it becomes a question of India versus Pakistan. Why did you publish in India? A question that seems absurd to Pakistani writers because there is hardly anyone to publish fiction written in English in Pakistan. Looking closer at Pakistan and India’s literary linkages
their homeland in November 2016. They now lead an itinerant life, traveling and exhibiting their work in the United States and Latin America. The Trump portrait, finished one month ago, is made of nearly 4,000 one cent and five-cent pieces. Poker chips are used for the US president’s shoulders. The artists are now searching for a place for a public unveiling. As with their “Face of War” portrait of the Russian leader, the Trump version, called “Face of Money” plays in the light revealing different expressions. Marchenko’s favorite? The one in which “he is very proud of himself,” she tells AFP in New York. They came up with the idea of the enormous portrait -- nearly eight foot by five foot (2.4 meters by 1.7 meters) -- last summer when Putin ordered the United States to reduce its diplomatic footprint in Russia by 755 employees. Trump responded by thanking Putin, saying it would allow the United States to cut down its payroll and “save a lot of money.”
Coins darkened with fire are used for the pupils, eyebrows and to emphasize the chin. The poker chips are a nod to the casinos the billionaire once ran in Atlantic City, New Jersey -- but also, in Green’s words, to his brand of international diplomacy. “He does international politics like he’s playing. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses big,” says the artist. - ‘Make waves’ Green singles out the US president’s announcement in December that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and preparing to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv. “When only eight countries follow you, it shows America has lost all power,” he says. Their next project is a portrait of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, even if that could complicate their return one day to Ukraine, Marchenko says.
Maniza Naqvi’s books written in English were published by the Oxford University Press Pakistan in 1998 and then in 2000, two of her novels were published by SAMA Press “which was started by the editors at OUP for my first and second novels,” according to Naqvi. However, all four are now out of print. Pakistan was an ‘obvious choice’ for Naqvi but there was no marketing by her publishers, books were not made widely available and were not reprinted once the stock ran out. When asked if anything had changed in the publishing industry of Pakistan, she said, “It hasn’t really changed much. But there are a lot of writers who should be published and are mostly getting published out of India with big publishing houses. And that’s a huge change.” With the current mood of overt nationalism, Pakistani writers are often asked: Why did you publish in India? A question that seems absurd to Pakistani writers because there is hardly anyone to publish fiction written in English in Pakistan. Indeed, it is, for writers who can now hope to be published and readers have access to more Pakistani writers in various genres. Mita Kapur, the CEO of Siyahi, one of the oldest and best-known literary agencies in In-
Writer Sarah Naveed recently completed her third novel. Will it find a publisher in Pakistan? (Photo courtesy: sarah naveed ‘s Facebook) dia, suggests that the Indian publishing industry is so popular with South Asian writers because it is connected to mainstream publishing globally and because it is well-structured. But why is Indian publishing attracted to Pakistani writers? Kapur says, “The voice and the multi-nuanced narratives are striking and compelling and are also representative of the concerns of the sub-continent.” Is Pakistan game for genre writing? So far so good. But there are other concerns as well. Genre writing is still not something that is widely accepted for publishing because readership is so small or these genres. Graphic novels, comics, science-fiction, fantasy and romance are not genres one expects to read from South Asian writers. “Marketability,” says Kapur, “counts when
decision making happens. If we have signed on a narrative and another book in the same sub-genre comes along, we do step back because we are careful about the commitments we make to our authors.” Sidra Sheikh with a copy of her scifi novel The Light Blue Jumper at a pop-up library in Lahore — Photograph courtesy Mongrel Books Sidra Sheikh with a copy of her scifi novel The Light Blue Jumper at a pop-up library in Lahore — Photograph courtesy Mongrel Books However, things are changing in Pakistani publishing. Sidra Sheikh was recently published by Mongrel Books, an indie publishing house started by Shandana Minhas, which publishes three books a year.
Fashion industry sets new guidelines to fight sexual misconduct
EW YORK | AFP - Ahead of New York Fashion Week the industry is unveiling new professional guidelines to combat the kind of sexual harassment and assault allegations plaguing some of the world’s most renowned fashion photographers.
The CFDA’s move ahead of Monday’s Fashion Week kick-off comes amid the #MeToo movement and the wave of sexual misconduct accusations that have accompanied it, targeting fashion figures including photographers Terry Richardson, Bruce Weber and Mario Testino.
Designers, show producers and photographers are asked to provide spaces “where models can change in privacy” at runway shows, according to recommendations sent by Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane von Furstenberg.
All three once widely celebrated photographers are now barred from collaborating with Vogue and Vanity Fair publisher Conde Nast.
The text, released Thursday, referred those who have “in any way felt threatened or unsafe” to resources compiled by the Model Alliance, which combats sexual harassment. “The current climate has been marked by brave women and men and their revelations about an unacceptable culture in politics, sports and entertainment, as well as in fashion,” von Furstenberg said in a message accompanying the guidelines.
Conde Nast recently unveiled a “Code of Conduct” that seeks to “safeguard the dignity and well-being” of workers. It has namely banned the use of unaccompanied models younger than 18, and all shoots involving nudity or sexually suggestive poses must be approved by the subject in advance. Alcohol and illegal drugs also have been barred. The group extended the policy to its entire stable of publications around the world.