Monthly Archives: April 2010

Journalism school graduate

I sincerely had an enjoyable time for the majority of my 4 years studying journalism at Concordia University. Most of my professors were extremely informative while others gave the right feedback and knew when to speak up. Some spoke way too much, while one in particular implanted a natural impulse that every time I hear mention of grad school I get a kind of nauseous/sick/pukey feeling in my stomach (it only lasts a few seconds). Some professors had the practical experience, but didn’t really know how to teach a class (I had a soft spot for that guy). Regardless, I think I’ve learned a lot over university career even if I could name a few unnecessary (required) classes that I took.

This post isn’t to put don’t Concordia Journalism, because I think it’s a good program and I feel kind of privileged for having gone there. I want to show this short clip produced by Charlie Brooker from his television programme (why not? It’s from the UK.) Newswipe with Charlie Brooker. It’s a satirical news review program about the inner workings of news media and a general commentary on the news. It’s actually brilliant and for anyone a little sick of that way current events are handled in popular media, Charlie Brooker is for you. This short segment from the show can concisely explain how to produce a television news segment. I might not have gone to journalism school if I saw this 4 years ago (kidding… kinda).

The continuing saga of Team Coco / Bitter old me…

Before I begin this rant I have to make it very clear that I’ve always been a Conan O’Brien supporter. I loved In the Year 2000, Arnold interviewsthe Masturbating Bear, Pierre Bernard’s Recliner of Rage and If they Mated, to name a few. I truly enjoyed watching Late Night and honestly never really watched The Tonight Show, so I wasn’t really excited when it was announced that Conan would be taking Leno’s spot at 11:35. I just personally watch television a little later and never really caught The Tonight Show, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed Jay Leno (which I didn’t and still don’t). I know it’s a dream of many if not all comedians to host The Tonight Show, but I didn’t see Conan’s comedy working in an earlier time slot with an older crowd. I know everything at this point is in retrospect, so I won’t say I told you so – because I only said it to a select few people when it was announced several years ago.

Fact is, I’m not here to talk about Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show/Jay Leno. I want to discuss Conan’s current situation and how he has built a money making empire. After being upset for Conan and mad at Jay Leno, immediately following the announcement that he’d be leaving NBC, I think I came to my senses. O’Brien walked away with $45 million and embarked on “The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.”

From teamcoco.com

The tour, which Conan is current on, sees him stop in some major US cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Uncasville and Upper Darby. The tour also stops in 3 major Canadian cities – obviously Toronto, Vancouver and Enoch (a resort/casino on a native reserve in Alberta). Tickets for the tour range from about $58-$105 Canadian.

Now, I understand that Conan went on tour with his comedy/musical extravaganza because he was feeling the inch and needed something to do when this ended on a sour note with NBC, but I personally don’t deem it necessary to drive to New York or Toronto, spend a bunch of money and see a bitter multi-millionaire take everyone down with him. Yeah, I’m a little bitter. Things ended with NBC on a sour note, but take it easy. I know I’m going a little all over the place here with my argument, but hear me out. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the fact that Conan isn’t coming to Montreal on his tour (if he did, I might have went), but if this tour is his way to give back to the fans that have supported him and Team Coco over the past years he should be stopping in ever city with an audience and a reasonable population. Including stops in Canada and stops in cities like Upper Darby. Take a look for yourself… he skips over a bunch of states and what I would consider a bunch of major cities http://teamcoco.com/dates

I realize that it’s not easy booking a tour and traveling the country with a bunch of different people and things, but frankly, he had nothing else to do. He was legally prohibited from being on television, right? So be a sport and give back to ALL your fans. I hereby state that I WILL NOT WATCH CONAN O’BRIEN when his TBS show starts in November. That’s not being bitter, I just don’t have access to TBS, so I won’t be able to watch Conan being funny on television once again. So now I can’t pay to see him do his thing unless I want to travel and I won’t be able to see him for free because I don’t have TBS. Incredible!

That’s the last thing, he’s going to be on TBS starting in November. He’ll have a show at 11pm, bumping George Lopez from that spot to midnight (don’t worry, there’s no controversy there – George called up Conan and asked him to join the lineup). I’m sure it’ll be a great show and I do wish him the best of luck as he continue to build a cult following as well as a Coco empire. I’m sure he”ll need it. I mean he’ll end up with a ridiculous amount of money, but his last late night show didn’t work out so well for him. Stay tuned!

I honestly just wish he was still on NBC at 12:35am. Those were the days!!

Tiger, Earl and the commercial heard around the world

On the day the follows Phil Mickelson‘s wonderful and emotion win at Augusta, my thoughts are still with Tiger Woods. Tiger had a tremendous comeback to the PGA, finishing five strokes back of Phil. I was also surprised with how well KJ Choi performed, being paired up with Tiger for the entire tournament and having an abnormal amount of media coverage. Regardless of the Masters, I wanted to discuss Tiger Woods and his most recent Nike commercial that tries to steer him away from the infidelity controversy that his followed him over the past six months. The ad features a rather still shot of Tiger sporting a couple Nike swooshes, while the voice of his late father Earl narrates his words of wisdom directed towards his son. Before I continue, here’s the commercial…

Earl Woods says, “Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I wanna find out what your feelings are…and did you learn anything?”

I don’t necessarily have any major issues with the commercial, but fact of the matter is, I can’t be the only one who’s a little creeped out by it. Tiger’s late father basically puts a spin on the situation and asks his son if he was able to learn anything from his (14?) mistakes. I believe that people should be forgiven for their mistakes and I honestly feel that people can change when faced with self-inflicted adversity. Tiger, however, didn’t cheat on his wife once or even a handful of times, he slept around more than a dozen times. He clearly needed to be caught in order to learn his lesson and understand that nobody is invincible. He would have continued living his secret life if his life and reputation weren’t in the balance. I just don’t believe that Nike or Tiger should have dragged his father into the picture. Regardless and Earl Woods’ reputation when it comes to infidelity, nobody knows whether or not Earl would have participated in the Nike ad if he were alive. Although what Tiger’s father says in the commercial metaphorically addresses the situation, it can’t directly address the controversy because Earl died before this all came to light. All I’m trying to say is that, Tiger and Nike used Earl Woods to benefit them without thinking about how it could have an effect on Earl’s legacy. I’m sure he would have been supportive of his son, but I don’t know if he would have publicly been the voice of reason begging for the public’s forgiveness.

I think it’s a nice commercial, but a very questionable move on the behaves of Tiger and Nike. It’ll be an ad for the ages, that will be spoken about for years to come, but if Tiger messes around again I think he takes his dad’s reputation and legacy down with him. Maybe dragging his father into it will allow him to realize that his action affect a whole range of people and not only himself…. Example OneExample TwoExample Three… to name a few.

An old link about Jews in Iran

What’s up? I know it’s been quite a while. I’ve been busy with things, I guess. Now that school’s coming to an end and I’m going to have a freakish amount of time on my hands I’ll write more. I promise, I really do. Until then, here’s a piece that was originally published in The Link on March 20 2007. It’s the first feature article that I wrote and I haven’t looked at it in a while. So it might be a little rough around the edges, but it’s a nice story. Hope you enjoy.

Far From Home – ‘Jews of Iran’ filmmaker Ramin Farahani talks about the country                                                        he both loves and hates.

Imagine a teenager on a motorbike driving through the countryside of Iran, seeking happiness during the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war of the late 1980s. A flyer advertising a film and a photography course ignites his soul, so he sells his bike to buy a camera and falls in love with it.

For Iranian filmmaker Ramin Farahani, the love of photography was a way to “escape the emptiness of those years.”

The first photographs that he took were of bombarded houses in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, and since then Farahani hasn’t steered clear of documenting the issues that truly matter.

Farahani later studied cinema at Tehran University. He then settled in the Netherlands and studied at the Dutch Television and Film Academy in Amsterdam after leaving Iran during the nineties due to what he referred to as “cultural and political pressure.”

With a reform movement during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005, Farahani returned to Iran to film his groundbreaking documentary Jews of Iran that “illuminates the vast discrimination of Jews in Iran, while simultaneously revealing the rich and passionate culture of a community, their strong relationship to their country, and their hopes for the future.”

He has since moved back to the Netherlands due to what he calls the “return of cultural depression since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government took power.”

As an Iranian in the Netherlands, Farahani lived as a minority and thrived to make documentary films on minorities living in is native Iran. He wished to make films following the lives on Iranian Christians as well as Zoroastrians, who follow the Persian prophet Zoroaster, in Iran. His efforts were flooded with the difficulties of making a film about the Jewish minorities in Iran and concentrated fully on Iran’s Jewish minority.

Since making his documentary about the Jews in Iran, Farahani hasn’t been able to make a new film in Iran. Farahani said that nobody dared to make a film about the Jewish minority in Iran because it’s a very sensitive subject throughout the country. He said that “twenty-eight years of active anti-Israel policies [in Iran] has given the word Jew or Jewish evil implications and every filmmaker should avoid such a project to save their future.”

Ramin Farahani understood the possible consequences about making Jews of Iran and understood that other filmmakers would avoid the subject in order to evade negative attention from the government, but he also prospered with the idea because he understood the importance of making such a film.

Farahani stated that “because there has been no media access into Iran’s Jewish community for the past thirty years, this film opens a window to their daily lives and allows people to see how Jews live [in Iran]; it makes Iranian Jew visible.”

Photo courtesy of Ramin Farahani

Negative government attention was only one aspect that made the documentary so difficult to compose. Ramin said that “Iranians are not always open toward the camera, because it can be dangerous for them if they express themselves critically against the situation [in Iran] or against the regime.”

According to Farahani, “the self-censorship is a problem for many citizens of Iran and is even worse among the minorities, especially the Jews. Leaders also try to protect their communities by banning or controlling any media access. Add the controlling role of the government and one can see how impossible it is to get good coverage of Jews or other minorities in Iran.”

Jews of Iran has been getting a lot of positive feedback especially in the United States where many people didn’t realize that Jewish life even existed in Iran. The film has been getting positive and emotional feedback from Jews, in particularly Iranian Jews, living in the Diaspora.

Ramin Farahani also has a particular opinion about the current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the resulting “cultural depression.”

“Ahmadinejad is not the truly elected president of Iran because the elections were corrupt and not confirmed by main reformist figures in Iran.” He also credits Ahmadinejad as being the mastermind behind the “psychological attack of denying the Holocaust as an answer to US and Israeli threats.”

Farahani’s distaste for the current Iranian president and his government is apparent in the fact that he opted to leave Iran as Ahmadinejad replaced the reform government’s in 2005. Although he knows the government’s current position, he hopes to one day have the ability to screen Jews of Iran in his native country.

“Screening [the film] depends on Iranian authorities, because you need their approval for public screenings, but nowadays they wouldn’t allow such a film, although my film is not too critical and could even create more understanding within the country.”

Roya Hakakian, author of Journey from the Land of No, is an Iranian Jew who moved from Iran to the United States twenty years ago. Although skeptical at first about a portrayal of Jews in Farahani’s documentary, she truly loved it after she saw it. Hakakian didn’t expect the film to be “so well done and so well investigated” and sincerely felt “the curiosity” of Farahani portrayed through the film. She said that by creating Jews of Iran Farahani has formed “an alternate of Iranian history, compared to what the regime is expressing and what the world is led to believe [about Iran].”

“[Farahani]’s film does justice to the fact that the regime is far more radical than the public, with cases of anti-Semitic statements, and the Iranian public doesn’t embrace it.”

Ramin Farahani has recently worked on a fiction piece for television in the Netherlands and has “no concrete plans for [filming in] Iran yet, because of the ongoing situation.”