…Is a very bright orange. I’m not sure drinks here are allowed to be such a vibrant-not-found-in-nature shade of orange anymore.
Of course being British I don’t say soda, I say pop and this post is about some of the pop culture I saw in Syria.
No need to say there was a soap about a man called Mohammed and a woman called Nour. Even though it’s finished, the merchandise is still everywhere and there’s a big rush to translate new Turkish dramas. I saw one (forget the name, it’s about a woman who is terminally ill and trying to find a new mother figure for her children), very glossy, very secular Turkey. Interestingly, there are now lots of adverts of Turkish holiday homes too.
To make a big generalisation, Syrian dramas are set in one of two time periods 1)Now 2)When under french colonial rule. The moustache count is much higher in the latter. The same actors appear in many different shows, regardless of their scenery gargling. One man in particular must either have friends in high places or know the terrible secrets of friends in high places as he’s in almost everything, despite no discernible acting talent whatsoever.
Syria, like many other countries uses soap as a vehicle for discussing social issues. The perils of black magic was the theme of the very campy “Layl wa Rajal” (Night of Men) and one drama even tackled the issue of living with H.I.V. Sadly it featured a scene where the little boy brushes his teeth with his H.I.V positive father’s toothbrush. His granny sees him and fearing he might have become infected, she proceeds to run about in the street in her nightie for a bit (while screaming) and then tries to stab herself in front of the aforementioned grandson and assorted family members. One hopes that this was follows by a piece of exposition explaining that no, you cannot catch H.I.V from sharing a toothbrush, but sadly I wasn’t able to watch any further.
Unfortunately there is still some pretty hideous racial caricatures being shown (I saw blackface AND yellowface) and equally disturbing, women being hit and this not being viewed as domestic violence. Sorry, but even if the character has murdered her own step daughter, she should not be shown getting slapped about.
After prolonged exposure during a long car journey, I sadly have to conclude that Arab pop = crap. By mere mathematical rules, some of it must be good. I guess I just didn’t get to hear it. No wonder Fayrouz is still viewed with such reverence. Plus she still has her own nose, which is an increasing rarity in some circles.
English language films with subtitles are shown a lot. Amusingly, any swearing is not translated but it’s not bleeped out either, no matter what time the film is shown. I think I inadvertently watched what was possibly one of the worst films ever made. Called Doppleganger with Drew Barrymore in the lead role (who must be eternally thankful that you can make such awful films and not end up working in McDonalds), it was so bad, I was expecting to see the shadow of a man flanked by two robots (now there’s a show they should bring back).
As far as televisual beauty goes, long, long, straight black hair and plum lipstick with matching eyeshadow, appears to be a popular choice and this make up is to be worn on screen at all times, even in bed. T.V men tend to favour a lot of hair gel. The pillow cases used on tv soaps must get absolutely filthy. Women do look like they are allowed to chew, swallow and naturally digest their food, which is definitely a big difference from U.K and especially U.S tv. I hope it lasts.