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    Nasrallah’s World Premiere: Is That It?

    So much ink (real and virtual) has been spilled on analyzing Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s press conference on August 9th 2010 that I thought I would briefly look at the event from a stylistic/visual perspective, which I frankly think is more interesting than the political analysis (when are we ever going to stop the never-ending national obsession with scenarios, plots, conspiracies, etc?).

    Well, the conference was a bit like watching George Lucas’ original 1977 Star Wars movie (which at the time was a major special effects achievement) after you’ve watched Avatar: modern audiences whether in Lebanon, India or France expect, or rather demand, top quality audiovisual effects, especially when the film-maker (in this case Nasrallah) heavily promoted his film (the press conference). Thus in terms of visuals and audio, the end-product was underwhelming; the Carmina Burana-style music which accompanied the individual videos was hopelessly kitschy and an obvious (but failed) attempt to enhance the impact of the ‘evidence’ presented. The segments on Israeli spies were straight out of Prison Break or other U.S. cop shows; an unflattering picture of the person and bulleted information on him; almost as if the dramatic music and presentation style is itself meant to convey their guilt without further information or appeal to our logic. Whether Hezbollah likes it or not, when it comes to audiovisual presentation, Hollywood is Nasrallah’s competitor and not the STL.

    The press conference/world premiere moreover revealed hidden socio-cultural implications other than the obvious political analysis.
    First of all, it showed a Nasrallah and by extension a Hezbollah out of touch with the world, or at least out of step with modern audiences of the 21st century. As noted above, the intercepted Israeli videos from drones, the segments on Israeli spies in Lebanon, and even the filmed confession by a spy, are all things we’ve already seen countless times on TV or at the cinema (just watch any recent James Bond film). Thus in visual terms the ‘evidence’ was not satisfying or convincing; when we watch movies we’re in a willing suspension of belief, but when the same scenes are presented to us as real life, we tend to disbelieve them, or say: is that it?

    Second, with the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Google Earth, Blackberry, Ipad, etc. we’re in the Post-Privacy Age: if Nasrallah intended to shock us that Israel is spying on all our moves, then he more or less failed. Most people have no problem parading the most intimate details of their lives on Facebook so the fact that we’re being spied on is not a major revelation to us.

    The shortcomings of living underground and getting only second-hand information on the world above from Hezbollah cadres were obvious on Monday night. The attempted joke on Jbeil (apparently most people who sit in cafes in Jbeil are March 14), the fake drum-roll moments, as well as everything noted above all backfired.

    In short, audiences (and I use the word audiences intentionally and not citizens) will not accept anything other than conclusive audiovisually convincing evidence. Nasrallah failed this test; we can only hope that the STL is able to pass it.

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