The Shakshuka Testcase

Jeff Ooi, a Malaysian Blogger was elected to parliament after he succeeded to raise sufficient funds for his campaign through his blog. While being elected after a 12 day campaign is one of the greatest successes, in a scale that any class president has to work harder to be elected, one should compare his ability to raise funds to Barack Obama‘s success in generating internet donations, which was deemed Revolutional. If Obama was a revolution, what Ooi did was actually a Coup.

The problem began a day later, when the Malaysian government decided to censor political blogs as those were a real and eminent danger to its reign and they distort the traditional media of control. The requirement to censor the media is not different from the fact that YouTube and WordPress are the first Platforms to get blocked every time: what offers cheap and available speech is the first mean to be blocked as it goes against the apparatus deployed by the current regime.
Photo: Jeff Ooi, cc-by Joi.

During the last few days, Israel is facing a different apparatus of censorship: Miki Rosenthal, who produced The Shakshuka System alongside Ilan Abudi is trying to find a place to screen his film. The film tells the tale of the Ofer Brothers which bought a considerable amount of privatised assets from the government in funny prices and asks how was this done, as well as explains everything. However, lawsuit threats, even against the potential cinemas and even TV Channels that asserted interest just shows the absurd: the attempt to dictate political speech with lawsuits as we already learned, will lead only to one thing.

. It’s inevitable that the Shakshuka System will be available online soon, in full, without any advertising. The film will be available on the net when the viewers could purchase additional products like “I’ve already watched ‘The Shakshuka System’, and you?”, DVDs and signed box sets. What Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails already proved, that Money is an option and millions can be made off good art, even if it is given freely over the web, Rosenthal has to learn today.

While Reznor’s speech is artistic and cultural, Rosenthal’s film is important for many reasons. Even if everything said is not correct, and Rosenthal acted out of malice to hurt the Ofer Brothers, Rosenthal is willing to take responsibility. The Commercial interest around is what prevents the TV channels from screening it. De Facto, Censorship is deployed by private entities.

Apparatuses and their operators will do almost anything to prevent Consumers (which are not even “Customers” anymore) from going to different businesses and business models. NBC attempted to the best of its ability to make viewing the Olympic games through the web impossible and that people will stay to watch it over TV (even though on paper the numbers seem quite impressing). Alongside these actions, it (ab)used copyright in order to prevent others from watching the Olympics through video sharing sites. And still, dinosaurs limit technology (and the inherent use) because of money.

But is the right way to make a change through the internet is to censor the media? We all know that when the government limits access to information, it will be found on the net, and we all know that the Shakshuka System has the right demand already: there’s a Facebook Group, a website and public screening all over the country. But is Rosenthal’s ability to carry the viewers out of the passive TV to the active web will affect other independent producers?

Maybe we can see Guy and Neta Dimet as a test case, their documentary, “Lost in Tel-Aviv” tells the story of how they tried to sell their internet based wepisodes to big companies. But maybe Seth MacFarlane is right, and you need to create a web-based show and sell adspace. While it’s irrelevant who is actually right, we’re in dire need to stand with Miki Rosenthal in his struggle for free speech, and there’s still much to learn as to how we can change the Israeli Media, if not the whole media.

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