When the television was invented back in the early 20th century, many people believed that they had finally found an effective method to eradicate ignorance all over the world. Enthusiasts believed that children would learn from their homes, and the public would become better informed about the issues that governed their lives. While most people have tried to realise that dream, Egyptians naturally responded with a resounding “challenge accepted”, and went ahead utilising it in every way it shouldn’t be, because God created Egyptians to ruin everything.
When watching current Egyptian television channels, private or public, one is not sure in which age he is living exactly, but it surely isn’t 2013. For westerners, it is post-911 US news channels on steroids and ketamine. For Egyptians, it’s an amalgamation of the worst and cheapest form of propaganda from the ‘90s and the ‘50s. It’s a brilliant time capsule to those who didn’t live in that era and it is broadcast daily on the different Egyptian private TV channels, especially CBC and ONTV. While one wouldn’t expect better from the CBC, it is ONTV that is really fascinating to watch. Not only was it the first channel to take the slogan “war on terrorism”, it is truly waging a war on… something… both locally and abroad… and it is actually terrifying to watch.
On the home front we have the unofficial leader of the national resistance , Brigadier General Amany “The She-wolf” AlKhayat, who has literally howled at the screen for about two hours every morning for the past two months, to the point that there is a national countdown now on when exactly she will pop a vein and die as the first victim of nonsensical TV patriotism. Ambitious as always, ONTV will not stop at just terrifying its local audience, nay, it believes it will be stalwart defender of Egypt against the evil international media, and is doing so in earnest by launching an English dubbed version of its local programming, to show the world and the international media how to do their jobs. Let’s ignore that this channel will reach all of 10 Egyptians who have ONTV in the US; it is the dubbing that is making this ambitious overture the train wreck it is. Whoever is doing the dubbing has an Egyptian public school 3rd grader’s level of English, combined with the linguistic accuracy of Google Translate being utilised to translate Egyptian colloquial speak. Watching Yusef ElHusseiny lips moving with a heavy Egyptian-accented squeaky English voice saying things like, “My love, my lovers, the world doesn’t walk this way,” is comedic genius and my latest guilty pleasure. It has certainly raised the bar that video of the disbursement of the Rabaa sit-in with the Rocky theme song playing in the background has set. Oh yeah.
Why are the new Tunisian owners of ONTV doing this? A question that will live in infamy amidst others such as “Where is Morsi” and “What exactly is Mortada Mansour and how do we return it to its natural habitat?” But ONTV is not alone, and the channels have been thoroughly competing at providing such programming, with Fox news suddenly becoming the only trusted American news source in Egypt (its segments are being shown all the time. No joke.)Things are so bad that people are back to watching state TV again, and believing it, because at this point, what’s the difference?
(Necessary plug: Hey rich patriotic Egyptians concerned with international public opinion, you know what is read by an international audience regarding Egypt? This news paper: DNE. You want to reach them, advertise with us. Our integrity is beyond reproach, but I am sure no one gave the management an enticing enough offer yet to sell out. You are welcome! Now back to the article.)
The government isn’t doing a much better job though. Inexplicably, their narrative of “if you don’t support us, then you are with the terrorists” hasn’t really been getting the success it once did during the Bush glory days. Their fantastic inability to do any kind of logical or coherent messaging or outreach is only compounded with the knowledge that they have the “Egyptian Information authority” with its 8000 employees and offices all over the globe and not one decent press release produced anywhere. They have so many resources and still no output, which makes their shortcomings much more epic.
In the midst of all of this, I find myself missing Gehad Al-Haddad, who has vanished off of the face of the earth (anyone knows where he is? Anyone? Tell him I miss his infuriating tweets, will ya?). Now that was a good propagandist. The boy, singlehandedly, did a better job articulating the MB propaganda than the Egyptian government and private sector combined. Sure, it helps to have infinite resources and the MB international media machine, but that’s like a machine gun in compared to the tank that is the Egyptian public and private state media. But I guess they are not interested in pursuing propaganda; they are after all here to inform the Egyptian public. God bless them.