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Old 10-05-2007, 02:01 PM   #16
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I guess I'm having trouble seeing how this is even analogous to the Danish cartoons situation. It isn't, if I understand it correctly, a question of indignation at 'sacred cows' being profaned, nor of a perception that the culture in general is being insulted. It's that enough Hazara and Pashtun might take the film literally to attack each other over it, with each seeing the other as having unforgivably insulted their honor. That was what happened with the Afghan actor who appeared in Kabul Express--he was run out of the country not because people saw him as an 'Uncle Tom' for collaborating with an insulting Indian portrayal of Afghans overall (hardly any Afghans saw the movie anyway), but because people equated him with the character they'd heard he played and said 'How dare you say such things about the Hazara'. Most Afghans have never seen a movie, and may not be familiar with the concept of narrative exploration of social tensions through 'representation.'

I'm not saying they shouldn't release the film--it sounds as though getting the child actors out of the country may be enough, and the rest is *probably* just worst-case-scenario fretting. But I don't know that it's appropriate to frame this as a question of 'free speech/no right to not be offended' issues. If that were the case then I'd think the worry would be Westerners in Afghanistan being attacked, not Afghans attacking each other.
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Old 10-05-2007, 02:10 PM   #17
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Originally posted by yolland
[B]Most Afghans have never seen a movie, and may not be familiar with the concept of narrative exploration of social tensions through 'representation.'


then let's not release the movie in Afghanistan.

you can't do the movie without the rape scene. it's absolutely integral to the plot.

and in reading other articles, it seems to me that the family is pushing this worst-case-scenario because they don't want their son to be embarassed on screen. the potential for violence between ethnic groups is just a smokescreen for the fact that they don't want their son getting raped on screen.

yes, i know people will roll their eyes, but this strikes me as little more than homophobia, akin to "there are no gays in Iran":



[q]"They didn't give me the script. They didn't give me the story of The Kite Runner. If I knew about the story, I wouldn't have participated as an actor in this film," he told the AP.

The father and son, backed by other Afghans on the set's location in China, argued with the filmmakers, and the boy refused to act out the scene.

Mahmidzada said the director told him: "'The film will be a mess without this part.'"

"But I told him 'I'm not thinking about your film. I'm thinking about myself,'" he said. "We are Afghan, and this is not acceptable to us at all."

When the filmmakers wanted his son to take off his pants for the shooting, Mahmidzada refused to let him do it. The scene was instead shot with Ahmad Khan wearing his pants.

The parents are concerned that Afghans will harass Ahmad Khan if they find out his character is raped.

"The people of Afghanistan do not understand that it's only acting or playing a role in a film. They think it has actually happened," Mahmidzada said.

Ahmad Khan worried that his schoolmates will make fun of him.

"It's not one or two people that I have to explain to," he said. "It's all of Afghanistan. How do I make them understand?"

If the film is screened in Afghanistan, Ahmad Khan said his family will lose its dignity. "We won't be able to walk in our neighborhood or in Afghanistan at all," the boy said.

Mahmidzada worries the story will stir ethnic tensions because it plays on stereotypes of Afghan ethnic groups, pitting a Pashtun bully against a lower-class Hazara boy.

Pashtuns, Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, and the Hazara minorities were among several ethnic-based factions that fought bitterly during the country's post-Soviet era civil war. Thousands of Hazaras were slain as the predominantly Pashtun Taliban seized power in the mid-1990s.

Ethnic violence has generally subsided since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, but Afghans fear any trigger that could revive tensions. Many Afghans were angered by the 2006 Indian film Kabul Express, which portrays Hazara militants as brutal and thuggish.

"There are ethnic problems in Afghanistan — between Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik and other ethnic groups," Mahmidzada said. "We don't want any problem between any ethnic group in Afghanistan. We want unity among all ethnic groups in Afghanistan."

Manizha Naderi, an Afghan-American working in Kabul, said that if the film gets a lot of publicity, the family has reason for concern.

"If people don't see it, then nobody knows, but if people see it, then ... they'll blame the family and say, 'You're giving Afghans a bad name,'" Naderi said.

Mahmidzada said the company has promised to take care of his family if anything happens to them as a result of the film.

"I'm afraid for the security of my son, and for the security of my family," he said. "I'm not only concerned about threats from my neighbors or relatives. I'm concerned about threats from all Afghan people."

Although he did not particularly like playing the rape scene, Ahmad Khan enjoyed shooting the film and wants to act more.

His suggestion to the film company? "They should take us out of Afghanistan."[/q]
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Old 10-05-2007, 02:38 PM   #18
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I doubt the reaction would be any different if it were a girl getting raped instead of a boy. And it's certainly not only the boy's family worrying about 'retributive' violence.

I'm guessing you simply don't take the possibility of violence against the actors seriously, because otherwise this seems like a rather cold-blooded stance to adopt.
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Old 10-05-2007, 02:42 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
I doubt the reaction would be any different if it were a girl getting raped instead of a boy. And it's certainly not only the boy's family worrying about 'retributive' violence.



i do disagree. i think the rape of a boy by a boy is more culturally taboo, despite the fact that it probably happens more often in Afghanistan. as for the violence, what i've read, it seems that it's more the boy's family who's worried than any sort of widespread panic. the NYT story seems to have upped the ante in comparison to other stories on this topic. i suppose it's hard to know, really, until it happens. my guess is that it will be much ado about nothing.


Quote:
I'm guessing you simply don't take the possibility of violence against the actors seriously, because otherwise this seems like a rather cold-blooded stance to adopt.
it's hard to know. but something about all of this and the family's reaction seems quite opportunist to me.
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Old 10-05-2007, 02:54 PM   #20
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Originally posted by Irvine511
so, just thinking about this on the way to work, and i'm wondering what a filmmaker is supposed to do.

1. hire non-Afghan kids (was Dakota Fanning not available) and hire white kids and risk offending Afghans that way (like when Miss Saigon opened and Asian groups in the US and UK were upset that most of the leads were white including Jonathan Pryce as The Engineer).

2. cut out the potentially offensive material and neuter the story (like, say, what Spielberg did in "The Color Purple" when he cut out the lesbianism, probably so he could get a PG-13 rating instead of an R)

3. retain authenticity by hiring actual Afghans and keep the story true to the novel.








Quote:
The film’s director, Marc Forster, whose credits include Finding Neverland (2004), another film starring child actors, said he saw The Kite Runner as “giving a voice and a face to people who’ve been voiceless and faceless for the last 30 years.” Striving for authenticity, he said, he chose to make the film in Dari, an Afghan language,
this is good - I hate when they have them speaking English
I would rather read sub-titles
(the one thing Gibson did right in "passion")

Quote:
and his casting agent, Kate Dowd, held open calls in cities with sizable Afghan communities, including Fremont, Calif., Toronto and The Hague.
/\ there is the answer (period)
this suggest they were aware - imo



Quote:
But to no avail: Mr. Forster said he “just wasn’t connecting with anybody.” Finally, when Ms. Dowd went to Kabul in May 2006, she discovered her stars.

“There was such innocence to them, despite all they’d lived through,” she said.
“There was such innocence to them

This leads credence to the contention that they were taken advantage

The Humane Society no longer lets animals get harmed
and I am sure having real horses get mangled would add some authenticity
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:10 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep

“There was such innocence to them

This leads credence to the contention that they were taken advantage



you're right, directors shouldn't follow their artistic impulses and strive for compelling characters portrayed by actors who have whatever quality a director is searching for. there thousands of kids in Hollywood who have been giving line readings on the Disney Channel for at least 3 years, it should have gone to them.




Quote:
The Humane Society no longer lets animals get harmed and I am sure having real horses get mangled would add some authenticity
i think you've mixed some things here.

if you're worried about violence against the boy himself, as his parents are, then you might have a point.

if you're worried about widespread violence between ethnic groups, it doesn't matter if it's Dakota Fanning getting raped, so long as she's portraying a Hazara.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:18 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




then let's not release the movie in Afghanistan.

you can't do the movie without the rape scene. it's absolutely integral to the plot.


From reading these threads on this board I can really empathize with many of the members and understand how they have arrived at their beliefs.

You and I, my friends see eye to eye on many if not most things.


But, I do not think it is fair to look at this from our unique perspectives.


The world population is 6.7 billion people.
The U S is just over 300 million.

Our less than 5 % culture does not dictate or set norms in other cultures.


In India an actress would most likely lose her life for wearing a U S swim suit and kissing a man on screen.

We just can't tell over a billion Indians to just get over themselves.

The fact that there is blatant homophobia that puts people's lives at risk in probably over 1/2 the places on the planet
-is one the greatest crimes of our times.

Endangering these little Afghan boys is also wrong.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:27 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
you're right, directors shouldn't follow their artistic impulses and strive for compelling characters portrayed by actors who have whatever quality a director is searching for. there thousands of kids in Hollywood who have been giving line readings on the Disney Channel for at least 3 years, it should have gone to them.
I think
City of God
is a great film because they used real kids from the slums of Brazil.

But, I don't think it is an either / or

these kids
or Disney actors/ fanning in black face


I do believe there are Afghan children living in the West that would not be at risk.


Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i think you've mixed some things here.

if you're worried about violence against the boy himself, as his parents are, then you might have a point.

if you're worried about widespread violence between ethnic groups, it doesn't matter if it's Dakota Fanning getting raped, so long as she's portraying a Hazara.
I do get your point

that no actual animals or children were hurt while making this film


but to me it just seemed a given
that these children would be in as much danger as an Indian actress doing a nude screen and remaining in India
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:29 PM   #24
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Originally posted by deep

Endangering these little Afghan boys is also wrong.


i'm just not sensing as great a threat as you and others are. i could be wrong, but this is what my cursory attention to this topic has told me. it seems to me that the parents don't want their son to portray a "submissive" male lest it reflect poorly on him and them, and they'd like a ticket out of Kabul, please, probably to West Hollywood (not enough $$$ yet to move to Beverly Hills).

it also seems to me that, while there might have been concern before filming, i don't think it was as obviously predictable as the NYT seems to think.

and, no, i don't think an Indian actress would be killed. would some angry people burn down a video store? probably. but who would do that? would a billion Indians march en masse to put her head on a pike? no. it's not so much that 300m people don't riot when they see culturally objectionable things on the screen, but the fact that maybe 3,000 people in a country the size of Afghanistan (or India) will riot (or worse) when they see something they don't like. these people are minorities within their respective cultures and as such should not be dictating what does and does not get made.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:32 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep
but to me it just seemed a given
that these children would be in as much danger as an Indian actress doing a nude screen and remaining in India


as i mentioned in the previous post, 1bn indians aren't going to come after said actress with torches and pitchforks. it's a minority within a minority that would actually resort to violence even if a majority of the population would "condemn" such a film. and this violence is unacceptable and must not be pandered to, in the same way that we must not pander to those who find cartoons of Mohmmad objectionable (in fact, they're on more solid intellectual ground than those who'd harm these Afghan boys).

i just don't buy the story that the parents and the kid never knew that it would turn out like this. the rape scene is the critical moment in the novel; it sets up everything that is to follow. you cannot have the story without it. perhaps the parents should have been more diligent?
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:46 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i'm just not sensing as great a threat as you and others are. i could be wrong
I think you and I may just talk pass each other on this one issue

I don't disagree with much of what you are saying


If you and Memphis want to be courageous and honest and be who you are in parts of America where bigotry is more tolerated, I salute and admire you.


If somehow, you found yourself in one of these despicable countries I would hope you would not risk and very likely sacrifice your life on principle.


And I still don't understand how you read this book



-which reads like a novel based on true events, history and customs.
Where being a rape victim is the most shameful thing there is, so much so that a little boy commits suicide.
And then dismiss the danger.


With that in mind, when I heard they were making this film I expected it would not even be filmed in Afghanistan.


Quote:
Originally posted by deep

I do believe there are Afghan children living in the West that would not be at risk.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:55 PM   #27
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I do think the filmmakers took advantage of these kids and their families without knowing the possible consequences. I don't think it was malicious, but I do think it was callous and without much though given to cultural differences which might cause problems down the road for these children. The filmmakers wanted to make what they considered a good movie, which is great, but they should not do it by exploiting the child actors. While I don't think what the film makers did is inherently exploitative overall, I do think it is exploitative in this situation given the difference in cultures and the possible lack of sopistication of the child actors' families.
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Old 10-05-2007, 04:48 PM   #28
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Originally posted by Irvine511
i do disagree. i think the rape of a boy by a boy is more culturally taboo, despite the fact that it probably happens more often in Afghanistan.
I'm not sure about that. Acording to the UN, and going only by what actually gets reported, hundreds of Afghan girls and women per year are murdered by relatives in 'honor killings,' and while doubtless many of them are 'guilty' of what in fact was consensual sex, many others are murdered for having 'allowed' themselves to be flat-out raped, by our definition. I do appreciate the fact that homophobia is inevitably bound up in why for an Afghan man being raped is seen as profoundly shameful, and that in that cultural sphere the same terminology can offensively get applied both to being a consensual 'passive' partner and to being the (unwilling) victim of someone who seeks only to brutalize and humiliate (though the same is also true of women's sex 'crimes')--but surely what's depicted in the movie falls into the latter category, no? And this was a widespread fate of Hazara boys especially under the Taliban--many were taken from their families and used as sex slaves. It's an established means of collectively humiliating a particular tribe, clan or people in a way that it isn't in Western culture, where (historically) the men would more likely simply be killed, and the women raped or used as sex slaves instead.

Remember the Mukhtan Mai case in a tribal region of Pakistan a few years back? It culminated in the gang rape of an unmarried young woman, but it started with her 12-year-old brother getting gang raped and beaten for amusement by thugs from the dominant clan in the area, and essentially she then became the means of punishing her (lower-ranking) family for daring to speak up about their son having been brutalized. It was reported in the West as yet another sensational horror story about the fate of women in that part of the world (which led to a lot of problems for Pakistani women's rights groups, as well as death threats and in-house arrest for Mukhtan Mai herself, unfortunately), and that's accurate enough as far as it goes--but in the fuller accounts as reported in Pakistan, it was clearly also a horror story about clan-based social hierarchies, their implications for the people (men and boys obviously included) at the bottom, and the brutality with which those hierarchies can be enforced.

I tend to suspect those kind of underlying dynamics are at work here as well. Maybe not, maybe it's all just a question of fundie parents freaking out at their son perhaps being perceived as 'gay,' but I'd be wary of projecting that interpretation onto them.
Quote:
Originally posted by deep
In India an actress would most likely lose her life for wearing a U S swim suit and kissing a man on screen.
Eh, I doubt it. Bikini swimsuits and passionate mouth-to-mouth aren't Bollywood staples yet, no, but nowadays it's quite common for Bollywood actresses to appear onscreen in clothing (e.g. skintight short dresses) that would've been seen as explosively scandalous 15 years ago. And there've been 'wet sari' films, as they call them, for decades--basically the Indian equivalent of softcore.

But this is different because India's (as opposed to Afghanistan's) is a very cinema-literate culture--Bollywood far outstrips Hollywood in output--where most people of most all backgrounds can safely be assumed to have seen many movies in their day. Yes, the approach to narrative is quite different from ours--most Indian films closely follow one of a dozen or so familiar and predictable plotline types, and there's little concept of the individual-filmmaker-as-artist with a 'statement' to make--but to the extent that there are Bollywood filmmakers like Mani Ratnam (or expat Indian filmmakers like Deepa Mehta) who push the envelope and occasionally get flak of the 'burn-down-the-video-store' type over it, there the issue really is one of anger at the filmmaker and his or her 'statements' : e.g., Ratnam's depiction of Hindu-Muslim violence (and Hindu-Muslim romance) in Bombay didn't cause actual Hindus and Muslims to attack each other, nor did anyone expect it to; rather, it led to protests and a few death threats against Ratnam himself from specific Hindu and Muslim political groups, of the 'Fuck-you-and-your-gratuitous-exploitation-of-our-pain' variety. (To which the majority of Indian moviegoers' response was indeed, 'Grow up and get the hell over it.')

I'm not at all sure it works to use what Indian audiences can 'tolerate' as predictors of how Afghan 'audiences' (not that many there will ever see this film; it's more of a hearsay issue, I think) can be expected to react, though.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:20 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

I'm not sure about that. Acording to the UN, and going only by what actually gets reported, hundreds of Afghan girls and women per year are murdered by relatives in 'honor killings,' and while doubtless many of them are 'guilty' of what in fact was consensual sex, many others are murdered for having 'allowed' themselves to be flat-out raped, by our definition. I do appreciate the fact that homophobia is inevitably bound up in why for an Afghan man being raped is seen as shameful, and that in that cultural sphere the same terminology can offensively get applied both to being a consensual 'passive' partner and to being the (unwilling) victim of someone who seeks only to brutalize and humiliate (though the same is also true of women's sex 'crimes')--but surely what's depicted in the movie falls into the latter category, no? And this was a widespread fate of Hazara boys especially under the Taliban--many were taken from their families and used as sex slaves. It's an established means of collectively humiliating a particular tribe, clan or people in a way that it isn't in Western culture, where (historically) the men would more likely simply be killed, and the women raped or used as sex slaves instead.


i would imagine statistics would be impossible to come by, but my understanding is that many, many young boys are sodomized (for lack of a better word) by older men, and boys will sodomize each other as part of a power play (like beating each other up) as is depicted in the book, and i assume the movie. since it's so hush-hush, so taboo, i would imagine that no one speaks of it, unless, say, you were a Russian soldier in the 80s and happened to be a POW. so, yes, i agree, it's about humiliation more than overt homophobia -- actually, it's more like pre-homophobia, which, again, is still sexism in drag -- but i would argue that, since women are under such lock-and-key in Afghanistan, more men/boys are raped than women.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:44 PM   #30
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but i would argue that, since women are under such lock-and-key in Afghanistan, more men/boys are raped than women.
I'd absolutely disagree.

Because your lock-and-key concept completely ignores the women being raped by their husbands, and those numbers, in a society like Afghanistan, could be astounding.
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