Shoot your TV

It’s that time of the Islamic year again… Ramadan, the most sacred of Islamic months, the most spiritual, and the single most important month of the Islamic calendar, it sets the spiritual mood of the coming year, by the process of renewal and religious rejuvenation, while giving the chance to atone for the past one.

Therefore the Observance of Ramadan through fasting, prayers and other religious and charitable deeds, is a crucial tradition for any practicing Muslim.

Yet, each and every year, the wide range of national and international TV channels are steadily and more furiously, targeting the Islamic world with a wide and gigantic array of TV shows, sitcoms, dramatic TV series, absurd soap operas, and talk shows, mostly all with no relation to religion whatsoever, if not at odds with it! And it gets worse, much worse in fact, with each passing year.

A quick look at the TV channels promos and ads would reveal that there are 50+ TV series scheduled for the holy month each ranging from 40 minutes to an hour per episode (+at least 20 minutes of consumer ads).

A full 24 hours day is not even enough, if one were to follow just half those TV series, not to mention the rest of the sitcoms and TV shows, and the WORKS!

So how and why this enormous amalgamation of TV material in this holiest of all months? And does it have to do with the spirit of the month?

Ramadan once the month of piety and repentance, has turned out to be THE month of entertainment and TV, and as we all now by now, entertainment is the close kin of consumerism, and consumerism is the illegal parent of advertising… so it comes as no surprise that advertisers and advertising agencies get into a hysterical frenzy during Ramadan. Entertainment on TV screens in Ramadan is a completion and a race because the revenues of advertising rise like no other time of the year, promoting things that we don’t need, or already have, even though we are supposed to consume much less than any other time of the year!

Television has become, quite simply, the greatest tool of mass manipulation and thought control civilization has ever seen, an incarnation of the myriad of myths, fables, fictions, story telling, theologies and all other forms of ‘bread and circus’. And it is through this holy month, where TV is supposed to be less relevant, that TV works even more efficiently as the sole controller of the Muslim masses. Ironic isn’t it?

In 1844 Karl Marx said that “Religion is the opium of the people,” and seemed to suggest that its abolition would bring true happiness.

His statement is often phrased in English as “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” implying that it is meant somehow for the common people, the lower and middle classes.

I don’t believe that this idea was ever true, at least not in the sense of true religion, but I do think that societies seem to find their own “opiates,” illusory dreams that distract us away from reality, holding us back, and preventing from our true purpose and capacity.

In this day and age, Mass media, in the form of TV, sports, movie industry and internet have most efficiently become the true opiate of the masses.

And it is through Ramadan that this addictive opiate seeks to control us the most.

So I invite you this Ramadan to: Switch off your TV… Shut it down… or just Shoot it!

As impossible as this may seem to a lot of you, I’m inviting you to give it a try, get rid of your addiction…

Switch your TV off… and boycott it!!! as well as any other distracting addictive entrainment utility!

And use the internet as least as possible…

Devote this month to Allah..

To yourselves… and to your families…

Live Ramadan as it was supposed to be…

A month of repentance and peace and tranquility…

Just give it a try… and I promise you will not regret it…

Ramadan Kareem to all of you

Quotes:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
– Edward Bernays

“The role of the media in manufacturing consent is very well documented. The phrase, incidentally, is not mine. It is taken from the essays on democracy by Walter Lippmann, the leading American public intellectual of the 20th century. Walter Lippmann described the “manufacture of consent” as an innovation in the “art of democracy”. He recommended manufactured consent to control the “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders” — the general population — whose “function” in a democracy is to be “spectators”, not “participants” in making and implementing decisions. That is a standard theme among elite intellectuals from widely varying sociopolitical systems.”

– Noam Chomsky

Governor, Please… Bring the billboards down

The Billboard at Maadi Kornish Entrance

The Billboard at Maadi Kornish Entrance

Overnight, and while the residents of Maadi were sleeping unaware, the first of the symptoms of the Helwan take over appeared so grotesquely all over Maadi’s urban landscape.

At all the districts’ entrances, which are considered the urban gateways of Maadi; suddenly and out of the blue, these humongous billboards sprung out, as if made overnight by some evil work of demons (or orcs!!!).
These billboards are intolerable and dangerous, aesthetically and functionally, for many reasons.

Aesthetic these horrid billboards ruin the rather elegant and harmonious urban landscape of maadi, a suburban district that enjoyed since it’s initial planning and establishment in 1904, a unique and quiet vicinity, and managed to retain this distinctive characteristic against the continuous urban expansion of the adjacent districts.

Furthermore, these hideous billboards spoil the gateways of Maadi and leave a lasting impression on the residents and visitors.

The Billboard at Maadi Autostrad Entrance

The Billboard at Maadi Autostrad Entrance

Now, functionally speaking, these billboards distract drivers approaching the busy entrances of Maadi and may cause traffic jams if not accidents. In addition, and more hazardously, I don’t think that these billboards are the safest structures, judging by it shape. I don’t claim to be a structural expert, but my limited structural knowledge, and my observation of the shady Egyptian means of construction, would make me worried driving under these billboards daily!

All the above have derived me to form a facebook group , which advocates for bringing these outrageous monstrosities down and the implementation of  strict outdoor advertising regulations. And going further in calling on the banning of the construction of new billboards in all Cairo suburbs and regulating the use of the billboards that already exist in a way that would protect the visual environment of Cairo.

We request that the government would issue a more strict building code regulating billboards all over the capital and form a Legislative and Regulatory Center to control outdoor advertising.

Bans on billboards exist in various parts of the world—even America. Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska all prohibit them, as do some 1,500 towns.

In the UK, billboards are controlled as part of the planning system. To display such an advert is a criminal offence with a fine of up to £2500 per offence (per poster). In Europe, the Norwegian city of Bergen does the same and many others are imposing severe restrictions on billboards: the mayor of Moscow, for example, is about to introduce regulation to reduce their number and size.

We’ve raised this issue before in Zed mag’s October issue; But this is far more precarious, explicit and dangerous.

If you are concerned for Maadi, and Cairo raise awareness and raise your voice. We are preparing an email template to be sent to all relevant governmental offices and institutions and media outlets. We will email the media, talk about it in talk shows (radio and TV) and voice out our objection.

Join the facebook group and invite your friends to stop the blight of billboards that is plaguing our city.