1990s-style slackerdom is sweeping the Islamic world! There's a movie called Slackistan, which is exactly what it sounds like, and Kabul has its own indie-rock band. Together, we're convinced our best defense against radical Islam is withdrawn, aimless, self-involved sloth.
Okay, maybe that's putting it too strongly. But in the past 24 hours we've learned two strange and delightful things about the cradle of the Taliban that give us hope.
Item 1: Slackistan, a feature film by British director Hammad Khan. The trailer is above. It's basically Slacker set in Islamabad, following the lives of privileged, bored, Westernized twentysomethings as they assiduously avoid whatever adulthood in Pakistan entails. Khan is a British filmmaker who came up with the idea while visiting friends there, according to the BBC. He hired local unprofessional actors.
"I realised this was a story right under our noses to tell about young people out there," says Khan.
Khan says his film is "about the slightly privileged and disaffected 20-something who's reasonably comfortable in life but he or she is not quite sure what he or she wants to make of their life".
"So the title Slackistan spoke out because it was literally about a group of slackers in Pakistan," he adds.
The trailer honestly makes us want to see it, especially considering the fact that, according to Khan, "It was almost like trying to find a window between suicide bombings in Islamabad and just trying quickly to shoot this film under the radar." The BBC says he is shopping it to the festival circuit and hopes for a spring release.
Item 2: Kabul Dreams is Afghanistan's only indie-rock band, which is the same thing as saying they are Afghanistan's only rock band, since all Afghani rock is indie rock. They sound kind of like the Strokes, and sing in English, and many, many people in their country want to kill them for it. Also from the BBC:
The band, Kabul Dreams, is made up of vocalist Sulaymon Qardash, bass player Siddique Ahmad and drummer Mujtaba Habibi, who claim to be the country's first and only rock and roll group.
"One year ago in December we decided to create this band and since it was happening in Kabul, we thought Kabul Dreams is a good name," says the 19-year-old vocalist, who bears a distinct resemblance to Liam Gallagher of the British band Oasis.
Qardash - who likes indie fashion - grew up listening to Britpop bands like Radiohead and Travis.
Here's a great little garage-rock song called "Can You Fly?"
We can't quite figure out why we're so charmed by the presence of run-of-the-mill post-adolescent angst in places we normally associate with crushing poverty, widespread illiteracy, and ululating maniacs, but we're sure there's an answer in Orientalism somewhere.
Anyway, since we keep hearing so much about how disaffected young Muslims are prime recruiting opportunities for extremists, it seems like the CIA would do well to start airdropping DV cameras, cheap plastic Japanese guitars, and old copies of Giant Robot over Kandahar. It won't be long until all the kids are writing "No Qaeda" in black magic marker on the backs of their hands. And if PBR sales in Yemen spike, we'll know we're on to something.