I try to keep on top of current events. I’m one of the few people I know who still subscribes to a daily newspaper. I don’t read it every day – sometimes I’m too busy with other things – and I often skim the stories. As a result, I am sometimes clueless about what is going on in the outside world. Often, I won’t catch up on a story until Seth Myers pokes fun at it during his Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live. That’s the true bellwether of a newsworthy story, in my opinion – if it makes the SNL cut, then it’s worth investing in. Until Seth cracks a joke, I’m just not interested. The Chilean miners? Took me a good four or five days to realize there were a bunch of guys trapped underground. And then Seth made a comment about how his cat was trapped beneath his house and had to be heroically rescued, and suddenly I was all over the story.
So it should come as no surprise that two days after Seth interviewed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (portrayed by Fred Armisen) on Weekend Update, I figured it was time I learned what was really going on over in Egypt, since it’s been on the front page for a few days now. After all, my knowledge of Egypt is woefully inadequate – limited to just a few facts, really.
- It’s located in Africa. Up north somewheres.
- It’s home to a bunch of pyramids, which were either built by hard-working ancient Egyptians to serve as tombs and monuments for the dead, or by aliens for use as intergalactic beacons.
- King Tut once ruled the country a long time ago. He was not, as Steve Martin alleges, “born in Arizona,” nor did he get “a condo made of stone-a.” Factual inaccuracies continue – he wasn’t “buried in his jammies,” either. But he could’ve won a Grammy, I suppose, had such awards existed in ancient times, and assuming he had a pleasant singing voice.
- The Bangles wrote a song about walking like one of the country’s people, and demonstrated the technique on the accompanying music video. The song hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1986. “Slide your feet up the street bend your back, shift your arm then you pull it back.” That’s how it’s done.
- Angry women are always mockingly referring to the big river there when confronting their cheating husbands, or their friends whose husbands are cheating on them, by saying, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
And, that’s about it. Clearly, some research was in order, so I read up on the story this morning.
During the SNL sketch, the fake Mubarak attributed the unrest in Egypt to the fact that “the internet is down” and said he was taking steps to alleviate the situation by firing, and then rehiring, his Cabinet. Funny stuff – and, it turns out, not so far from the truth, after all. The people of Egypt – and across the Mideast – are ticked off over poor or banned internet service: they want access to websites and international cable channels. The government, which controls the media – and thus, the flow of information – apparently does not want its nation’s people watching funny cat videos on YouTube. Maybe because cats were revered as gods in ancient Egypt? Who knows. But to deny them the late-night pleasure of the ShamWow is just unconscionable. And ol’ Hosni really did try to pull a fast one by firing his Cabinet members, but then appointing two of those guys to new positions as Vice President and Prime Minister. Really, Mubarak? Did you think nobody would notice? Those aren’t exactly blend-into-the-background types of positions.
The chief source of concern in Egypt is the lack of jobs. Turns out the people are unhappy over the economic imbalances over there; they disdain the wealthy politicians because half the people in the country survive on less than $2.00 a day. There are 18 million people in Cairo, and many of them can’t find work or have to settle for something menial. So these people have taken to the streets en masse and are protesting. Hence the angry mobs and fighter jets. While once upon a time the average Egyptian youth might have been content with a harmless little prank like camel-tipping, such is not the case these days. Now they’ve got guns and sticks and are smashing up cars and robbing people and descending on the jails and freeing criminals and Muslim militants. It’s like they’re trying to create a new Australia! Yikes.
I feel silly complaining about the measly $360 a week in unemployment benefits I am currently receiving.
I understand their frustration. Our own country’s job situation is pretty bleak – I’m living proof of that. But instead of taking to the streets with a sawed-off broom handle and demanding the Ridgefield Rapist go free, I’m writing how-to articles at $15/pop and trying to grow this venture into a self-supporting success. There really is a huge disconnect between the Western world and the Mideast, huh?
At least now I feel all informed and stuff. And, you’re welcome for today’s current events lesson.
I hope Seth Myers mentions some funny tidbit involving Côte d’Ivoire next Saturday, because I’ve seen references to it in the news but have no idea what is going on or where the place even is…
- Fred Armisen As President Mubarak Of Egypt On SNL’s Weekend Update (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- U.S. wary of what’s next for Egypt (politico.com)