Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life Imitates Art

(Or Marquez imitates Diaz.)

Comic genius Tracey Ullman was born to send up the rest of us, in particular the Americans who walk among us.

From her State of the Union series, Tracey does ditzy/effervescent (take your pick) actress Cameron Diaz:

Voiceover: At an independent film festival in Portland, Oregan, Cameron Diaz talks about her latest movie.
Compere: We're talking to Cameron Diaz who stars in a new movie, That Terrible Time of the Month, a film about female genital mutilation.
Diaz (skolling coke and repeatedly burping): I'm sorry... I can just do that!
-Cameron, welcome.
Diaz (burps again, laughing hysterically)
- Cameron, welcome. Thankyou for talking to us.
Diaz: Hello, thankyou, thankyou.
-So what got you interested in female genital mutilation?
Diaz: Well, I was buying these amazing jeans from Fred Segal and it got me thinking that, like, African girls they can't even wear jeans because of their painfully mutilated geni-als, and that's just so sad and amazing because this is really like... the... golden age of American blue jeans so...
-So is it true that rock star Bono made you into more of an activist [Diaz burps] on this cause?
Diaz (laughs hysterically, crushing coke can): Who told you this? [Throws crushed can on floor] Um, yeah. We were on Larry David's plane and Bono took me into the bathroom, which is like amazing, like surrounded by, like Tibetan prayer flags and stuff, and he showed me where they do the actual circumcision. [Opening legs wide] It's like in here and they just -tshh- take it all out and then it was really sad and amazing [laughs].
-Let's see a clip from That Terrible Time of the Month which is creating Oscar buzz.
Diaz: Oh no, just stop! Just stop.

Diaz, brandishing rifle, bursts into African mud hut, screaming at off camera clitorodectimist: Just stop right now! Drop that clitoris! OK, Togo, c'mon [African girl runs to her as Diaz backs out still training her rifle on off camera clitorodectimist] You are really sad [burps] and... not amazing [farts].

OK, that's the 'art', now here's 'life'. Tracey'd love it:

"While [US] Department of Defense... policies still restrict women from serving in combat units, the soldiers selected from this group [of female trainees] will serve alongside the Army's most elite units on the battlefield. The Army has never selected women to do a mission because of their sex, until now. It is recruiting female soldiers to work closely with Special Forces teams and Ranger units during raids. Because women and children are often held in a separate room while soldiers search the compound, these teams go into villages in Afghanistan to build rapport with women, as it is culturally inappropriate for male soldiers to talk with them... The teams are trained to have a deeper understanding of Afghan culture and to connect with women in the villages to gather information on enemy activities. The teams aim to create a dialogue between US forces and Afghan women, which can help in medical clinics or building governance...

"The Soldier Urban Reaction Facility (SURF) was created to focus on building rapport in a foreign culture. Using cameras, the instructors can watch how the soldiers might handle different worst-case scenarios, staged in each of the 4 rooms. Built out of wood with faux arches and a crescent hanging over the opening, it looked like a cheap, rundown amusement park, but it is intended to resemble the Middle East. Rugs covered the floors. Pillows lined the walls of one room. In the center of the third room was a low table covered by a maroon cloth.

"When the test started, [Sgt Janiece] Marquez knocked softly on the door and was greeted by 7 female soldiers posing as 'villagers'. 'How is everyone?' Marquez asked, taking a seat on the floor and laying her rifle nearby. The 'villagers' started speaking at once. Their husbands beat them. One said she didn't want to be a sex slave around only to make babies. The 'villagers' demanded education. Freedom. Equality. The pleas were lost in a shrill wall of sound. 'Ladies, I can only speak to one of you at a time', Marquez said calmly. But before the meeting could get going, two soldiers acting as husbands burst into the room. Screaming and waving an AK-47 rifle, the men chased their wives into a back room. Marquez, startled, jumped up and snatched her rifle. Holding it in both hands, she backed away from the men, who were huge, compared with her. 'Why are you in my house?' demanded Spc David Atkinson. 'Who let you in here? Which one?' As Atkinson yelled, his partner, Staff Sgt. Mike Ward, started hauling the women out. Holding the women by the hair and 'slapping' them, Ward screamed at Marquez. She raised her rifle and ordered the men to get on their knees. 'Are you here to execute us?' Atkinson screamed. 'Lay down', Marquez said, grabbing Atkinson's AK-47, which had been dropped in the commotion. The men acted stunned, but they complied. After kneeling and stretching their arms out across the table, they began to yell at Marquez. 'Why are you in my house?' 'I am here to listen to your concerns', Marquez said, her rifle still trained on them. 'This is how you help people?' Atkinson screamed. 'By coming into my house and making me get on the floor? You want to keep disrespecting us?' Her training as an interrogator kicked in. 'Right now, you're under an insurgency', she told them. 'We fear for not only you but your wives. I am here to help people'." (In a new elite army unit, women serve alongside Special Forces, but first they must make the cut, Kevin Maurer, The Washington Post, 28/10/11)

Oh, and 'saving' brown (Afghan) women from brown (Afghan) men doesn't come cheap: $444 billion in the past decade to be exact.

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