tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Classic Qaddafi on YouTube: 1991 interview on Channer TV

YouTube was made for a man like Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi, whether it's that time he pitched a Bedouin tent inside the Kremlin, or that time he showed up in the Ukraine with an all-female bodyguard corps, or that time he was offering his exegesis on the Holy Books when he randomly threw in the line: "...in Scandinavia, women are naked."

But one of the best finds is this one: A full hour devoted to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, recorded back in the summer of 1991, and broadcast on Channer TV, the DIY news show by Harold Hudson Channer, the Larry King of lefty public access television. (Obviously if Larry King were a lefty, he'd be on public access too.)

And now, to save you having to watch the full hour, the Tuque Souq happily presents a blow-by-blow rundown of this "Conversation with Channer."

Channer's laborious introduction of the program, the country of Libya, and just what is meant by "Jamahuriyya." The host starts to betray his man-crush on Qaddafi.

Channer introduces Qaddafi, who sits in a tent in the Libyan desert with his hands between his legs, unsure if he's supposed to respond. Hudson asks his first question, and Qaddafi with seemingly unfocused attention listens to his translator.

The guy dubbing Qaddafi's voice into English definitely flunked out of comedy school. Qaddafi starts explaining his theory of the 3 natural stages of government, the last and most glorious of which is the jamahuriyya -- the rule of the masses by the masses for the masses, in a participatory democracy rather than a representative democracy. The Colonel is just a wee bit fidgety on his chair (his ADHD is acting up), and the word "people" is used in hilarious excess.

Channer looks star-struck as he asks Qaddafi if the latter has trouble elucidating his theory of perfect government for a Western audience. Qaddafi's body language insists that he could care less about the topic of conversation, though the topic has turned to his entire revolutionary ethos - his Green Book. Quintessential Muammar: his manner suggests "Meh, whatever, let's get high in this tent and I'll show you my collection of naughty playing cards."

The broadcast returns to the cringingly arid Channer alone in his studio explaining the last bit of the interview, where he also talks briefly about the "Qaddafi Prize of Human Rights," and for some reason this section is spliced with stills of American Indian rights posters. Channer compares the lure of Qaddafi and his theory of participatory government with the so-called Town Hall style of American political organization, the kind which helped propel H. Ross Perot into the 1992 U.S. presidential election.

Okay, Channer is by now fully in love with Qaddafi. Even in his dry narrating style, his inflection starts to rise. To Channer Qaddafi is like a cross between Vlad Lenin and John Lennon.

Back to Qaddafi in the tent. First question to the Colonel: "Are you optimistic concerning the human prospect?" In his answer, Qaddafi quotes Jesus, and makes Star Wars-like references to the never-ending battle between Good and Evil. We've now fully tipped the comedy scale, yet Qaddafi has started to slouch in his chair as he talks about the necessary downfall of capitalism at the expense of perhaps millions of lives.

Qaddafi's attention span is starting to wane as he's forced to answer a question about the machine of capitalism being oiled by the blood of the workers (or something). He inexplicably laughs after overstating the U.S. population, and then interviewer and interviewee cordially agree that there's not much time left for the Revolution to spread across the globe. But Channer is getting more esoteric, and Qaddafi looks like he has to pee.

Whoa, the camera angle suddenly changes, and we see a silhouetted Qaddafi from the side, staring out into the vastness of the Libyan desert. The Colonel tries to bring the conversation to a close by saying that if everyone just reads his Green Book, the Revolution will work quite harmoniously. Channer is practically itching to bow and wash Qaddafi's feet, he worships him so much. Then Channer, his hands curled like claws, lays this one-liner: "This time is existential." Qaddafi is nodding.

Qaddafi decides that we need to foment a cultural revolution amongst the young people of the world. Channer is just feeding his own ideas about reforming America to Qaddafi, and Qaddafi is very agreeable that America must change. "These ideas must get to the people."

Qaddafi abruptly announces: "I think we've had enough for now" and cuts off the interview, stretching his arms behind his head. "But you're most welcome to come back another time if you wish." As they leave the tent and walk into the desert, Channer clearly wants to hug the Colonel. The camera pans away from the two men - perhaps they embrace? Actually, Channer continues to talk but the translator is no longer around, and Qaddafi stares over Channer's head and pretends to care what this funny little bald American disciple is saying about Chinese food or something.

A nearly breathless Channer closes with a final, ten-minute panegryic to Qaddafi's Libya, and directs the audience to where they can order their own copy of the Green Book.

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