Friday, October 26, 2007

'Rage Boy' and other Photogenic Fundies

For those of you who don’t know, 'Rage Boy' is the alter ego of an otherwise mild mannered ex Kashmiri militant called Shakeel Bhat. Mr. Bhat has acquired the status of a cult figure on the internet, evidenced by the fact that you can actually obtain mouse pads, coffee mugs and T-Shirts with Rage Boy's rage face on them. Rage Boy's fame stems from his efforts to merrily validate stereotypes about Muslims by making the face below:

Making that face, Rage Boy has appeared at least a dozen times in various 'defence of Islam' themed protests, including the ones against the Indian Army, Israel, the Danish cartoons, the Pope's comment about Islam and Salman Rushdie. actually compiled a complete gallery of all the protests this guy has stuck his face into. I have pasted some of their pictures below:

Pictured here protesting the Pope, asking idiotically why Muslims have a bad reputation.

Pictured here with different outfit and hairdo (and facial variant), protesting the Jewish Lobby and Israel with regard to Al Aqsa.

Pictured here, screaming over a copy of the Holy Quran,

And here, getting his rage on with respect to the danish cartoons.

What is undeniably entertaining about Mr Bhat is twofold:
1. Mr Bhat's face itself
2. The fact that this is his stock face (much like "Blue Steel" from Zoolander).It is the sheer disingenuousness of pretending to be that intensely pissed off for the cameras on so many occasions that makes it brilliant. Of course, it is also pissing off that the press is so keen for pictures of angry Muslims that they repeatedly and quite shamelessly go back to this idiot.

I had initially thought (and posted) that Rage Boy had made the cover of Newsweek as shown in the photograph below, which is still strangely boy band like in its composition. However RH Potfry very kindly informed me that in fact it is not Rage Boy, but rather someone who looks like him and who is coincidentally in a similiar state of rage.

There are however two sides to this web cult, and the Rage Boy web content inevitably strays into areas which are incredibly bigoted. Take for example the satirical Rage Boy agony aunt column, which is titled "Ask Islamic Rage Boy".

I have pasted an excerpt from the question asked:

"Dear Islamic Rage Boy,I am a faithful Wahhabist living in the satanic pit of America and have recently found it necessary to burn my wife at the stake for her insolence. My problem is threefold. First, the cost of gasoline has risen to such a price that it almost makes me question my sentence of a “painful, fiery death.”

Here was the response given:

"Dear Pyrotechnically-challenged,
Whoa. Slow down my friend. You have asked me many questions, but you have left out a great deal of critical information. First of all, I cannot be sure that death by fire is the proper response to your wife’s infraction. Perhaps the situation merely calls for a severe beating of the uvula or a vigorous genital caning. Please be more specific next time. However, for the sake of argument we must err on the side of severity. Let’s just say that your wife exposed her left temple while in public and thus is deserving of a flame-laden, blistering death. "

And so on. This is pretty much where Mr Bhat’s ignorant rage meets its Western counterpart and stops being funny. You can read about Rage Boys reaction to his fame here.

Surprisingly, whilst photographs of Rage Boy have validated negative stereotypes abroad, photographs of the Taliban have dismantled them. Pakistanis have always been aware (and have often joked) about the homoerotic strains in Pashtun society and tradition, but for foreigners, its news. The video below from Slate V relates to a whole bunch of fruity pictures that the Taliban and other Afghans took of themselves during a period where images of living creatures were banned. They are entirely endearing.


RH Potfry said...

Thanks for keeping the Rage Boy flame burning.

Just a quick correction-- that Newsweek photo IS NOT Shakeel Bhat. I'm afraid I've been looking at the man so much that I've become a bit of an expert. Maybe it's the curl of the lip-- but I just know.

Ahsan said...

didnt know about this fellow but i agree with rhp. it's not the same dude.

i also loved the fact that the taliban chopped off the head of the figures on traffic signs. they are truly brilliant.

NB said...

Thanks rh potfry for the correction! I have amended the original post accordingly. I still cant tell them apart, but I trust your expert eye.

Man they painted over the head of a donkey on a traffic sign. Just insane.