Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Michael Singh's Valentino's Ghost

Michael Singh is a Hollywood-based documentary maker and producer. Born in India to a Sikh father and an American mother, Singh has spent his professional life documenting and working on stories that illustrate the human condition and challenge established narratives. He examined how American media has helped shape an anti-Arab/Middle Eastern narrative and how U.S. political interests and its policy towards Israel benefit from that narrative in a documentary “Valentino’s Ghost.”
Singh, who has worked in Hollywood for almost 30 years, said he first became aware of anti-Arab sentiment in the media when working on a documentary about prophecies for two Israeli filmmakers.
The popular media in the West is fully dominated by pro-Israelis, and it is difficult to challenge those narratives by them. Even a public run TV station like the PBS won't show his documentary. He ran into trouble with David Fanning, the man who has served as the Executive Director of Frontline since the program’s inception in 1983 before retiring recently. Here below is the transcript of their discussion on his project (as posted in the by Thomas S. Harrington, a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released  Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies).
FANNING: I agree with your premise and your arguments, but I will do everything I can to block the broadcast of your film on WGBH or in fact any other PBS affiliate in the country.
SINGH: Why is that?
FANNING: Because it’ll piss off my rich Jewish friends.
SINGH: So this huge subject will remain under the rug.
FANNING: It’s not a huge subject. You can cover your premise in about four minutes. What will you do for the next 50 minutes?
SINGH: I actually have enough material for a three-hour miniseries.
FANNING: How are you going to fund that?
SINGH: I don’t know. Get grants.
FANNING: And if you get Arab money, I’m going to find you out.
SINGH: What about Holocaust films made with Israeli money?
FANNING: That’s okay. Not a problem.
SINGH: That’s a double standard.
FANNING: Yup. It’s a double standard, and you’re going to have to get used to it.
SINGH: That’s hypocritical.
FANNING: Well, he who pays the piper calls the tune.
SINGH: That’s the exact opposite of PBS’s mission. In fact, it is a violation of their charter for the money people to influence filmmakers editorially.
FANNING: That’s the way it is, and if you quote me, I’ll deny it.
You can read about Singh's documentary by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. I recently commented on this subject on Mondoweiss, and here is an excerpt:

    : [T]he Israeli and Israel Lobby [have] capture[d] .... America's establishment media. For example, witness the suppression, censorship, hypocricy and double standard inherent in the Public Broadcasting System (PBS)'s actions reported in the Mondoweiss post on "Valentino's Ghost":

    I have complained to PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), asking for an investigation by PBS and CPB of PBS's programming practices, and requesting corrective and remedial measures.

    In my letter to PBS and CPB, I state that the issue is whether PBS's Frontline and it's then Executive Producer:

    "improperly censored a documentary film and prejudicially favored special interests, including PBS funding sources, thus violating standards of journalistic integrity and ethics. These standards, which the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS claim to uphold, include “[ing] diversity of perspectives, strengthen[ing] the democratic and cultural health of the U.S. and the highest commitment to excellence, professionalism, intellectual honesty and transparency."

    David Plimpton