Zenga Zenga!


In his recent hour-long screech on a Tripoli balcony, Muammar Qaddafi vowed to hunt down his own rebellious people “inch by inch, house by house, room by room, alley by alley” and to wipe them out “to the last drop of blood”. An Israeli musician and journalist named Noy Alooshe — who is of Tunisian descent, by the way — caught the speech. He noted the rhythmic repetitions, the zany clothes, and the trippy way Qaddafi kept raising his fists, and said to himself: “Classic hit!”

Alooshe cranked up Auto-Tune and remixed Qaddafi’s speech as a mash-up with “Hey Baby,” a song by American rappers Pitbull and T-Pain. He overlaid the video with footage of a scantily-clad young woman apparently dancing to Qaddafi’s words, tossed it up on YouTube, and put the word out about it on Facebook and Twitter.

It went viral across the Arab world.

Some Arab viewers were put off to discover the video’s Israeli provenance, but the vast majority, it seems, think it’s terrific. In Libya in particular, young revolutionaries are loving it. Many of them contacted Alooshe to request a version minus the dancing girl so they could show the video to their parents (he quickly obliged). The New York Times says the video has become a “popular token” of the Libyan uprising. 

I don’t want to overstate the significance of this, but I can’t help but find it cheering. I love the thought of protesting Libyans getting a desperately needed laugh at Qaddafi’s expense — and that they’re not inhibited in their enjoyment by the fact that the joke was delivered by an Israeli. I love the publicity this little incident gives to what I believe is one of Israel’s most valuable strengths — the ability of so many of its people to take the sting out of something that looks unrelentingly grim, and in the process to diminish it and make it mentally manageable. That’s a talent that’s hard to explain to people abroad; this video is a perfect example of it. I love the characteristically Israeli, off-the-wall, impromptu creativity of the idea. Most of all, I love the thought of young Arabs and Jews uniting, however briefly and remotely, over two minutes of ridiculous trance music. 

In this neighborhood, anything that gets us to see one another as human beings — particularly human beings with the same sense of humor — is pure gold. Kol hakavod, Mr. Alooshe. Well done.

There are 9 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive

    Good God! Have the youth of today lost all respect for their elders?

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Editor

    Hey! You beat me to it. I was just about to write the same thing, sort of.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive

    More like Jenga, Jenga! Can’t keep pulling pieces out of that tower ere its collapse.

    Is it just me, or does Arab Autotune sound different than US Autotune? Then again, I understand Turkish music from Mozart.

    This is a South Park thing, right?

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive

    People coming together to make fun of a bad guy and to lighten up for a bit is awesome. It reminds me of the “Bed Intruder” ditty which Emily posted about in December. Autotune The News guys produced a song out of the rant of a young man whose sister was the victim of assault. The video went viral and became a Youtube hit.

    One must be careful, however, about setting a villain‘s words to a catchy tune, since his anthem, no matter how ludicrous, is repeated and disseminated and could catch on. For example, The BIG IDEA company received concerned notes from parents when children began to imitate an antagonist in one of their Veggie Tales films who sang that he would not go to church or school.

    This could become yet another rallying cry for the bad guys. In the meantime, it’s just funny. Thanks for mentioning it.

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  5. Profile Photo Contributor

    Yes, Judith, this is definitely something to rejoice about. No matter how briefly. Now if Obama would actually DO something to stop the bloodshed to come…

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  6. Profile Photo Member

    Inaction may be the best response Obama is capable of.

    In the interim, a world that has safely heaped scorn on Uncle Sam for generations is now faced with an eruption of violence and revolution and little hope of American intervention. The resulting oil shock may well drive a world-wide depression, rolling black outs across America, and other useful crises for Obama to consider as he lounges in the Hamptons or on a Kennedy yacht or finally enjoys that Cuban holiday he has always dreamed off.

    He asked for the Muslim Brotherhood, he has given the all clear signal to the most heartless zelot thugs available.

    Sorry, Never much liked rap anyway.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member

    Perhaps ridicule can topple tyrants, but I quickly get uncomfortable when evil feels like it’s being trivialized. This goes as far as finding The Producers unacceptable. Oh well…

    Separately, can’t the Muslim world come up with its own product, why must they outsource to THE JOOS/ZIONISTS?

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  8. Profile Photo Member

    Love his headgear.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Contributor
    ParisParamus: Perhaps ridicule can topple tyrants…

    This was the tactic of the young Serbian revolutionaries known as Otpor. And it seems to have been largely successful.

    Otpor steered clear of the traditional opposition tactics of marches and rallies — partly out of necessity, because the group didn’t have enough people to pull them off. Instead of political parties’ gravity and bombast, Otpor adopted the sensibility of a TV show its leaders had grown up watching: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Its daily work consisted of street theater and pranks that made the government look silly and won coverage from opposition media…

    The most famous stunt involved an oil barrel painted with Milosevic’s picture. Otpor rolled it down a busy street, asking people to insert a coin in a slot for the privilege of whacking Milosevic with a bat. This was Otpor’s favorite kind of prank, a dilemma action: It left the regime damned either way. If the government had let the barrel roll, it would have looked weak. But when the police stepped in, the optics were no better…The country sniggered at these pranks — and signed up for Otpor.

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