By Mounir Beniche
By Mounir Beniche
Meknes – “Art does not reproduce what is visible; it makes things visible.” Paul Klee
In his outstanding article, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, the German cultural critic Walter Benjamin made an anatomy of the essence of artistic works and revealed how they lose their aura and originality through reproduction. The machine of reproduction is targeting the virginity of art; voiding it of its essence and introducing it as a commodity for consumption.
The commercialization of art and the commodification of culture are the landmarks that are characterizing the modern and the post-modern age. The process of globalization aims to devour all local cultures, regardless of their own specificities, which generates a lopsided view of a unique culture.
Such theoretical background is necessary to pave the way to a serious discussion about a local issue, which is Moroccan cinema. The latter, has known undeniable progress in quantity due to a well-framed policy of funding film production. However, is such policy successful and a genuine reflection of the expectations of Moroccans?
As a cinema freak and interested in film studies, I see that Moroccan cinema is still far away from addressing the real matters of Moroccan society. The produced films recently are no more than a reproduction and a commodification for marketing purposes. This is clearly notable in the major themes broached by film- makers.
The fashion now in Moroccan cinema is exaggerated nudity and vulgarity. It is a kind of revival of the Egyptian legacy and the pretended emblem that “people want this”. So, cinema should subdue to the market needs and the whims of its audience. However, is such a concept rational and right just because cinema is an industry that generates money and its ultimate goal is cultural consumerism?
Cinema, as a matter of fact, is a sublime art that aims to uplift the tastes of its viewers. It’s a tribune of creativity not a mere mimicry of reality. If we copy past reality pretending this is the practice of daily life and we have to be bold enough to display it as it is, where is creativity then which is the backbone of artistic works?
The Moroccan cinema, in the last decade, seems to go around a vicious circle of nudity and vulgarism unable to advance beyond such stigma and stereotyping. Such an approach has been the target of a bundle of criticism from many viewers and critics. The latter, express clearly that such portrayal of Morocco in this so-called Moroccan cinema is not a reflection of their expectations and hopes. They suggest, rather, that the budget spent on such films, which is public money, should be better spent targeting serious subjects and to give equal chance to other film-makers.
Nations all over the globe are proud of their historical backgrounds, and intellectuals and leaders who have done their best for them. They are grateful to them since they sacrificed themselves for their people and belonging. Hence, their local cinema serves as a platform to make such leaders known; they are role models and national icons that the coming generations should emulate. By the same token, is our Moroccan cinema offering that?
Moroccan leaders and intellectuals who have been inspiring many nations that are calling for independence and freedom are excluded and marginalized locally. Where are films about Abdlkrim Alkhattabi and Mouha Ou Hamou Zayani who have been real nationalists that fought colonialism and led Morocco to independence; what about politicians, activists and intellectuals whose traces are inevitable in modern Morocco. It is really a shame to read and hear about great Moroccans in Western media while in their native country they are “invisible’’.
Nation building is based on the collective memory that documents people’s history and roots since they are their symbolic legacy. Here comes the role of the national artistic works, namely cinema to celebrate the figures who shaped its glory. Moroccan people are now feed up with commercial cinema and waiting for a cinema of engagement and responsibility.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed