Screw you sideways, Vice magazine

People are sharing this* on Facebook without tearing the shit out of it. This is unacceptable.

Before we begin, let’s get two points out of the way.

1. Just like practically everywhere else in the world, there does exist a jet set crowd in Egypt who like to use their wealth to hold ostentatious parties in exclusive resorts, and some of them own yachts. Also, some of them are obnoxious.

2. Vice magazine has a successful formula of paying mediocre journalists to do or write controversial things in order to conceal the fact that it doesn’t seem able to attract good writers. There have been a few exceptions to this (its video about Shisha in Greece for example) but mostly it continues to churn this shit out because it pays the bills.

Now to Ian Moore and his offering.

Moore is a foreigner passing through Egypt who clearly knows zero to nothing about the country. This isn’t necessarily a problem; millions of tourists come to Egypt every year and cast aspersions about its culture and people based on the specialist knowledge they acquire while spending two weeks windsurfing in Dahab. Then they fuck off. The difference with Moore is that someone paid him to do a What I Did on My Holidays and then inflicted this on the world by publishing it online.

Sometimes this form of journalism works and a greenhorn dumped in the middle of something new is able to reflect on the trite quotidian with fresh eyes, produce nuances that are lost in their familiarity to more experienced writers.

Alas this was not the case here because such finesse is beyond the abilities of Moore and his shock and awe approach to writing.

Moore apparently thinks that in attending a rich people party in Gouna he went deep undercover and saw a side of Egypt nobody else in the world is aware exists.

In effect, Moore thinks he is being super punk and edgy and left field by attending Egypt’s not very interesting version of a Ibiza beach party. Still it is all wondrous and new to Moore, who did some research on the plane via the in-flight newspaper and shits out the statistic that 70% of Egyptians are in favour of Sharia and then moves on. The other 30% all live in Gouna and have cocaine-fuelled group sex on the aforementioned yachts, Ian dear.

There are the usual careless inaccuracies, including my bête noire, “Arabic” food. Then there is his exchange with a security guard who refers to himself as “the middle east’s 50 Cent” and who Moore confusingly refers to as a “huge north African man” as if all the other Egyptians there are from Australia.

Usefully, north African 50 Cent reels out some scary brown man religious soundbites in which he rails against the scantily dressed writhing female bodies surrounding him before allegedly pulling out a video of himself having sex with his girlfriend, which as we know is the holy grail of Vice journalism.

This little snippet sums up the binary on which Moore’s whole piece is predicated; Egyptians are either Sharia-loving crazies/full time revolutionaries or debauched, spoilt sybarites. Note both that the identities in the first half of this binary are those provided by the international media and that while all these categories do in fact exist in Egypt, the delineation between them isn’t in the black and white terms Moore presents. And this is why his little head explodes when he finds himself amongst partygoers who speak English and also describe themselves as Muslim, and it is why he feels compelled to declare that, “religion didn’t really play much of a role in this part of the country”. Because Egypt is the only country in the world whose beach parties don’t come with prayer rooms.

Let’s not get into the fact that Christians exist in Egypt and Gouna. That would send Moore over the edge.

Leaving aside for one moment Moore’s simplistic, trite “analysis” there is also the problem that he apparently makes shit up.

He alleges that the event promoter, Sherry, describes Arabic as a “retard language”, something she denies in the strongest terms here.

And then there is a comment on the article by Mohsen AbdelMohsen (in the comments section). He has rightfully taken umbrage at Vice’s unauthorised use of his photo with his sister and fiancée, particularly since it is captioned “two is better than one”. AbdelMohsen also adds that they don’t drink and don’t own a yacht. Moore is obsessed with yachts.

The most telling part of this article is this:

“I tipsily stumbled around among the pumped-up bros in pastel polo shirts and girls wearing outfits that would make my girlfriend’s Muslim family break down in sobs of despair”.

Moore knows a Muslim. Some of his best friends are Muslims. For Vice being in a relationship with a Muslim apparently renders one a PhD holder on Muslamic affairs.

My message to Ian Moore is this: if you must use your pocket money to buy a budget ticket to a brown people country and earn the money back by writing inane and probably falsified shite about it, do it with some flair, 7abeeby. My cat shits out turds of more eloquence than your juvenile, poorly expressed crap.

Zebby el magazy 3alayk ya ahbal. Ask the Middle East’s 50 Cent what it means.

Update: article was removed. Here is a cached version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Azu7wMYC_6c4J%3Awww.vice.com%2Fen_uk%2Fread%2Fsheik-it-like-a-polaroid-picture+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a

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33 Responses to Screw you sideways, Vice magazine

  1. Seif Nabhan says:

    THANK YOU!

  2. Hazem Amin says:

    Good effect on target. Excellent job.

  3. Nadia says:

    “There are the usual careless inaccuracies, including my bête noire, ‘Arabic’ food.” Mine too, but even the Guardian stands accused: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/may/17/dan-lepard-semolina-date-bars

  4. a.b.k. says:

    thank you well said

  5. Shahi says:

    Gamda ya Sarah lo :) fashakhti

  6. F says:

    It appears as if Vice has taken down the article…so, good work!

  7. Annika says:

    Loved it.

  8. Sherry the organizer says:

    Thank u haha added humor to the ridiculous subject

    Had the article removed :)

  9. Victoria says:

    Amazing!

  10. S says:

    Great job responding to the article bas mesh keda. Your writing is very aggressive, you could have said all this in a much more democratic way. I’m glad someone called Moore out on his article, but don’t make us all look bad by attacking him and swearing at him. It’s a little bit immature.

  11. wfeverv says:

    Egyptians please don’t hide the truth. What Vice showed us is the truth. I’m Egyptian and I am into the party scene. There is nothing wrong with what was uncovered. It’s our identity and we should be proud of it. Just go look at the photos on Cairozoom website and you will find evidence.

    • zed says:

      Don’t be a tool this is not an identity. How is your yacht by the way ? If that is your the identity that you aspire too im sorry for you. Similarly im sad to say you have a very poor understanding of the word decadence, word party for that matter . Get on a plane go to Ibiza or Mykonos or burning man or st tropez or Sardinia or any where else and then come back and claim that.

  12. Mohsen AbdelMohsen says:

    Thank you very much Sarah, well said!!

  13. Amr Abdelaal says:

    Despite the profanities, I must admit that I really enjoyed reading this critique. You’re obviously a tremendously gifted author who writes with passion and heart. Good job, keep tearing the ignorants apart.

  14. Serj says:

    Moore was just too excited..

  15. A. Bar2oo2 says:

    You’ve expressed my thoughts exactly as an Egyptian. Brilliant.

  16. FA says:

    You want a journalist to have some fun with. Google Robert Johnson, Business Insider. He’s like a parody of himself.

  17. Nihal Zaki says:

    Thank you Sarah for taking the time to ‘properly’ answer that guy… What I find rather amusing is that apparently Ian hasnt been to any of the real jet set parties/nightlife in Europe or the states (st Tropez, NYC, Milan, or even Prague to say the least…) kinda explains why he was blown away by our community. But then again he wouldnt be allowed into any of them i assume… The Egyptian take on partying is rather humble compared to the west but then again he wouldnt know, he never was nor will be ‘allowed’ into such an exclusive niche in Europe or the states given how amateur, naive, and idiotic a journalist he is… Bet he still did enjoy our courteous and generous crowd after all ;)

  18. zed says:

    Well put Sarah, I would have avoided the insults myself, but other than that spot on

  19. Shareen says:

    Well written.

  20. bla says:

    why are you so angry? vice does this everywhere and doesn’t get a fucking crazy blogger that cant take a joke flipping shit about it. calm down, its a joke, its funny.. gouna is fucking crazy….. i can’t believe you still can’t take a joke.

    • Linda says:

      What does “taking a joke” have to do with this? Vice presents itself as factual investigative journalism. It’s hardly the Onion, let’s face it. The author justifiably tore some amateur’s garbage article to shreds.

  21. Ismail says:

    It’s just amazing, probably the guy is scared to death by now :D

  22. Anonymous says:

    Its funny because you’re accusing them (Vice magazine) of being slanderous liars who carefully manipulate facts to their own advantage – when thats exactly what you did in that pointless revenge-post of yours. I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who thinks you’ve stood up for us or that you’ve made a valid point when basically all you did was blurt out a bunch of irrelevant arguments and overall act like an enraged teenage wanna-be internet warrior who just aimlessly criticizes “the opposing argument” with biased points, regardless of how immature and nonsensical your own arguments ended up sounding. I think its wrong you reacted this way considering that the guy (Ian something) wrote what he actually saw and experienced during the event, rather than his own opinion. Your reply was childish and spiteful, all it did was prove furthermore that when it comes to criticism Egyptians are opinionated, arrogant and stubborn.

  23. Karim. Hi. says:

    Didn’t mean for it to be Anonymous, meh.

  24. Rosecrucian says:

    So the guy was a little sensational. It’s not like VICE is considered to be the be all and end all in journalism. We party here, we do blow here, we have threesomes here. Just like anywhere else. Did he exaggerate a little..yeah, but he writes for a magazine who’s demographic is mostly hipsters and stoned college students. Who gives a shit? I think your reaction is a little overblown and extreme to be honest. Not getting why you are so outraged with what is clearly just drivel.

  25. Michelle R. says:

    Enjoyed this piece thoroughly along with everything you write. Despite what some of your detractors are claiming, your response isn’t “overblown” because this is bigger than Vice, whose latest fluff piece merely reflects the larger atmosphere of ignorance, sensationalism and unthinking orientalism that inflects most writing about MENA disseminated from the west. Critisizing Vice is always a good idea. Thanks again.

  26. Yosra says:

    Asalamu Alaykom,

    I’m really sorry that I can’t find the original article any more! It’s hard to read a critique about a phantom. However, you vent with such bitterness that I found myself enjoying it regardless. Yes, there’s a cattiness in your wordplay (or was that scattiness) but I don’t need every voice on the ‘net to sound like some dull dude. Women can have strong opinions too without anyone needing to deride them.

    My favorite line was, “brown people country,” which got a snort out of me in Giza.

    Keep finding ways to make sense of the nonsense. If you don’t do it, Sarah, then there’s a chance no one will.

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