War, Nostalgia, and YouTube
It all started when Mansour sent me that old Lebanese song.. I have always heard my mother singing it and thought it was her own invention, nothing that ever really existed, “Do you love me? Do you? Do you?” on a traditional Lebanese tune.. but there they were clad youth of the 70's on the coast of Lebanon in a mawal about the “guys who caused all the trouble” not knowing what they were doing. It seems the looming war brought all the nostalgia out, taking me back to the time of my childhood. So I searched, and there they were, Georgette Sayegh, then Walid Tawfic with the lovely Sabah Al-Jazaeeri, and Sami Clark too, with Huweida dancing on the beach.
The nostalgia has touched others too it seems.. Grendizer is popular again in Lebanon. Friends are putting the cartoon's theme song as their mobile phone ring tone & playing it at parties, and the newly opened café, T Marbouta, is organizing daily screenings. You can watch it too.. it is all on YouTube.. over a hundred videos, where you can see Dayski going through the tunnel, riding into Grendizer, and flying out through the waterfalls. Obviously, war nostalgia would take us less to Zeina and Nahoul, which has only its theme song on the web.
All of the above were added in the past four or five months. I searched further, hoping it has nothing to do with nostalgia and more to do with the videos being recently digitized.
I soon started to wander around.. what better to look for than the lovely Googoosh of Iran? Another war is waiting for our not so distant neighbours.. and there she was, with hundreds of clips, lovely, soft, and evocative of a pre-Islamic-Republic Iran. The comments on the clips where many.. I will quote one made by "Turbobro9":
“Its so interesting, this footage was probably shot in the 70's. But compared to current Iran, it seems so modern. Its astonishing how religious extremism can totally destroy a countries progression and hinder it from reaching its full potential, specially the great potential of Iran. Persians are good people, its unfortunate Iran met this faith.”
Nostalgia again, to a time he never witnessed, the 26 year old Turbobro9.
These are for sure not the only videos you would watch if you searched for Iran or Lebanon on the site. Khomeini, and of course Ahmadi Najad are there, and most surely as much as there are Shah defendants there are the ones who say, like “AbouHaidar” that “the Revolution of the Great Imam Khoumeini will live forever”. For Lebanon, needless to say that the you in YouTube includes those of the 8th and that of the 14th of March.
While the remarks rage between the pro and the against, I watch the videos one after the other. Enjoying them, the old much more than the new. These are opportunities that would have been very rare in the past.. it took me thirty some years to get a glimpse of the song my mum always sang and know it was for real. YouTube is now my personal archive, a Lebanese collective one, a regional one.. and definitely more. This was a space (regardless of what I think of YouTube the company) that had both imagery of my childhood and the everyday culture my parents lived in, all bottled up in short downloadable videos. Very few spaces seem to afford us that luxury, as we slip from one amnesia into the other.