Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Part III: The return of the Jedi

Few things are more difficult than procuring a thrid installment of asmash hit - to know how difficult it is just ask any Hollywood mogul, not about the thrid part of an original hit but simply about the immediate sequel.

And yet, in its third installment, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) still nails it on the head. It is our assumption that the work is the brainchild of Sami Saab but sadly cannot confirm or deny that. The ads have been displayed recently and are a follow up to General Michel Aoun's return from Doha - Qatar where he participated withother Lebanese leaders in a conference to end the political deadlock which was paralysing the country. Aoun was instrumental in getting a much fairer election law to the Christians and in building coalitions with the Shiites and getting them the veto power inside the government.This political background is important to understand the ads. Another important aspect is the graffiti art direction reminiscent of the days when Aoun supporters would spray things on the wall when he was exiled in France after a lost military battle with the Syrians which culminated on October 13th 1990 with the Syrians taking over Baabda palace.

In the aftermath, slogans would appear in the middle of the night"Aoun rajeh" (Meaning "Aoun will come back"), when the whole political climate in Lebanon changed after the death of PM Hariri and Aoun waseventually to come back (Which he did in May 2005) an ad campaign ran that said "Aoun rejeh" (Which means "Aoun is back" - the trick naturally was to change one letter from the word). Now part III: "Aoun rajjah" ("Aoun has brought back" again simply by emphasizing a letterin the word with what's known in the Arabic language as "chadda") -the rest of the message (And there are two of them) goes: Rajjah elhak la ashabo (Has brought back what's only just to the people who are right) and rajjah el charake lel watan (Has brought back the partnership to the country). The latter is also an inner wink to a previous ad which said "Al watan charake" (With the letter A scartched to give "El watan cherke"). It means, "the country is a partnership not a corporation" as an implicit critique of the right-wing government which was treating the country as a company more than anything else - an ad which the FPM ran also some time back.

I have heard critiques of the ad, from people who said "they are milking the joke" - but let's face it, it is easy to be jealous when someone pulls such a neat truck from up his sleeve.
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