October 08, 2006

Hurry up, he's dead.

That's the name of a hit program on Baghdad's Sharkia television, which has taken Iraq's current troubles and used them for laughs in a way not unlike Jon Stewart's Daily Show.

According to the show's premise, it's 2017 and US troops still haven't left Iraq. Only one Iraqi man, Saaed, is still alive, and he's the anchor of a television news show.

Actor Saaed Khalifa, playing the last Iraqi man left alive in 2017

Actor Saaed Khalifa, host of Baghdad TV's Hurry Up, He's Dead.
[Photographer unknown]

With seemingly no sacred cows, [Hurry Up, He's Dead] provides insight into how Iraqis see their country's problems, lampooning the Americans, the Iraqi government, the militias, and the head of Iraq's state-owned media company.

Even the show's name is a joke. The title first appears on the screen as The Government, but then the word is split in half, producing an Iraqi slang phrase that means "Hurry up! He's dead."  [...]

During one episode last week, Saaed announced that the minister of culture would print and distribute 200 copies of "Leila and the Wolf," the Arabic version of "Little Red Riding Hood." But in these copies, Leila is the Iraqi people and the American forces are the wolf. The books will help children learn about occupation, Saaed explained.

In the next day's episode, Saaed joyfully announces that the Americans are finally leaving Iraq. Referring to the U.S. secretary of defense, Saaed, sitting behind his news desk, says: "Rums bin Feld said the American forces are leaving on 1/1," referring to Jan. 1.

He's giddy, raising his arms. Then he realizes he has made a mistake. The soldiers are leaving one by one, not on 1/1. He computes in his head what leaving one by one means and announces that the soldiers will be gone in 694 years. He starts to cry; Iraqis watching the show howl.

The show is written by Talib al-Sudani, a Baghdadi poet and writer. In a sign of the times, al-Sudani sometimes had to ask the producers to delete scenes from his script because he has said something far too dangerous to come from the pen of someone who still lives in Iraq. (Al-Sudani lives in Baghdad's Sadr City district.) In another sign of the times, the program itself is being produced in Dubai instead of at Sharkia TV's state-of-the-art studios because conditions in Baghdad are too dangerous and chaotic.

Via Seattle Times and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Posted by Magpie at October 8, 2006 01:58 AM | Media | Technorati links |

694 years? That'd make me cry, too.

Posted by: natasha at October 9, 2006 01:04 AM