?

Log in

No account? Create an account
parrot_knight [userpic]

The Doctor in Dubai

January 16th, 2009 (05:37 pm)

It's looking increasingly official that Planet of the Dead, this year's Easter-if-we-finish-on-time Doctor Who special, will enjoy location filming in Dubai. The Guardian, however, find the choice of location morally dubious and out of keeping with the programme's philosophy...

Comments

Posted by: brewsternorth (brewsternorth)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
rassilon

O_O. I thought they were employing Lucasfilm's Tatooine set in Tunisia?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)

I've been reading Dubai more often in the past few weeks - I think it's cheaper than Tunisia.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
dalek

Oh good grief...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)

There's a lot of rigid liberal thinking in this article - I'd view Russell as a fifth columnist importing his 'equality agenda' into the UAE on the back of a (modest) BBC production budget, but that's not how some Guardianistas think...

Posted by: Naraht (emily_shore)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)

I'd view Russell as a fifth columnist importing his 'equality agenda' into the UAE on the back of a (modest) BBC production budget

How would you view him as doing that? Obviously the BBC will benefit from the inexpensive nature of the production, but I'm not sure that they'll go away having enriched the UAE other than monetarily. Or actually having acted to change any minds.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)

Conversation, presence, subsequent feedback... small acorns, but mighty trees grow from them.

Posted by: Naraht (emily_shore)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)

Conversation... with actors? With the government? With ordinary people? During filming? It seems to me that a film crew wouldn't have much interaction with locals unless they made a specific effort to do so.

Any efforts that they could make during the duration of the filming would be very tiny acorns indeed, given the sort of treatment that RTD could expect if he were a resident of the country.

Maybe I've been sensitized by the cultural appropriation discussion, but I still sympathize with the views expressed in the article. It does seem a case of benefiting from inequality and oppression without seriously engaging with the issues involved.

I mean, if you were RTD, what specific acorn-planting would you choose to do while there?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)

I think that I have more faith in the general benefits of conversation, investment and sheer presence than you do.

Posted by: Naraht (emily_shore)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)

I have a great deal of faith in the benefits of conversation, actually. Over the past year or two, for example, I've learned so much from the LJ-based conversations about race, painful though they may have been. I deeply admire the people who had the patience to go on explaining and explaining in an attempt to dispel some of the ignorance that still surrounds these topics.

At the same time, these conversations have also taught me how much depends on the other person's willingness to listen. Sometimes these dialogues can make you want to beat your head against a brick wall... even if the other participant avows a hatred of racism (or what have you) and thus agrees on the basic premise. The difficulty is that the elite in the UAE don't even seem to agree on the basic premise as regards human rights.

I take the point of solarflar3 that it is highly undesirable to divide the world into "civilised" and "uncivilised" countries and to view the UAE as somehow beyond help. Yet it seems to me equally wrong-headed to believe that westerners such as a BBC film crew can somehow diffuse tolerance and understanding simply by existing in the UAE for a week or two.

It is a difficult question because the oppressed groups in the UAE--migrant workers and gays, not to mention women--are in a position where it is very difficult for them to openly speak for themselves. Really they are the ones who have the right to say whether this would or would not be a helpful intervention in their struggle. Conversation and investment, in this sort of situation, are most helpful when they take place within a context that is defined by the minority groups themselves. One has to educate oneself before simply stepping into a situation and telling people what is best for them.

So that, in short, is why I'm not sanguine about the specific benefits of conversation in this scenario. I don't think they would be going to Dubai to converse in any case; I think they'd be going there for the cheap scenery.

Edited at 2009-01-17 04:01 am (UTC)

Posted by: a paleogeographic reconstruction (prof_pangaea)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 09:35 am (UTC)
it's a gas mask

*dropping in from who_daily*

just wanted to say: YES. and thanks.

Posted by: Naraht (emily_shore)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
dw-Where's Jack?

Thank you. Glad to hear someone agrees.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)

I think there is really a question of emphasis between us. On reflection I agree with your account of the details of what life is like in the UAE. The elite are trapped between their own power, love of western money and lifestyles, and the need to keep a strict Islamic code to maintain a certain level of credibility as well as subjugate some opponents of the ruling families. I continue to believe that continued involvement of outsiders in Dubai can only benefit free speech in the long term, at least in a society which is relatively more liberal and more open than, for example, Saudi Arabia next door.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
cyberleader

Guardianistas think?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
UK_politics

Yes, I'm sure they do...

Posted by: solarflar3 (solarflar3)
Posted at: January 16th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)

The way I look at it is that the UK and US, despite being 'known' as civilised countries, have nothing to shout about when it comes to treating everybody equally if you look at things closely.

If filming in the UAE causes even one person question how people are treated, then that is a good thing.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Eccleston

Your last point, particularly, is one with which I agree; and I don't think you even have to look too closely to see how far western countries have to go regarding equality.

Posted by: solarflar3 (solarflar3)
Posted at: January 17th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)

Pretty much. The saying 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' springs to mind here. We call ourselves civilised, yet just look at how we treat those that deviate in anyway from what we consider to be norm.

You know, one day, just maybe we will live in some kind of Utopia, but for now, we have a very long way to go and that makes me feel very sad.