Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's Egyptastic!

Fresh in the wake of all things egyptological (?) comes:-


Definitely not endorsed by TV's Dr Zahi Hawass, as seen on all TV shows with the word Egypt in.

One Gem:-
Hawass Launches Satirical Hawass-Bashing Website

One man archaeotainment phenomenon Zahi Hawass has extended his media empire this week by launching a satirical Egyptological website. The website, www.drhawass.com, features spoof articles ridiculing the Egyptian 'archaeologist' Zahi Hawass. It has already been hailed by anonymous Egyptologists worldwide as 'savagely hilarious' and 'a spot-on parody of a grotesquely funny character'. Masquerading as an official media outlet for Hawass, the site has been produced with an impressive attention to detail, with touches of authenticity including a news archive going back some years and a section dedicated to Hawass's fans worldwide.

The site's content targets Hawass's perceived habit of making self-aggrandising statements and his lack of professional integrity. Hawass is also lampooned via a series of spectacularly crass and insincere comments about the world figures he has met through his incessant globetrotting. Indeed, it is only the grossly exaggerated chutzpah of some of these statements that reveals the site's status as a cleverly constructed parody.

One post, dated April 2008, implies - rather tastelessly - that Hawass felt the need to replace the late Princess Diana as his 'favourite princess' after her death, choosing a princess of Thailand to fill the position. "Before I met Princess Maha [Chakri Sirindhorn]", the fictional version of Hawass is quoted as saying, "I used to say that my favourite princess was Princess Diana."

A more recent story takes advantage of the recent real-life announcement that Hawass will be appointed to the position of Vice Minister of Culture. In a show of solipsism and condescension that the real Hawass would no doubt balk at, the fictional Hawass seems to claim that his personal triumph brought so much joy to the people of Cairo that they collectively interrupted their day to launch a spontaneous celebration. The fictional Hawass writes: "All the people of Cairo, rich and poor, the taxi drivers and doormen and everyone was so happy."

The website has also been laced with a number of repeated in-jokes. One will certainly raise a smile amongst those who know Hawass in his professional capacity as a television personality and nominal author of ghost-written popular books: the spoof site refers to Hawass throughout as an 'Egyptologist', as the 'discoverer' of an archaeological site actually discovered by a donkey and as the author of various theories that pre-date his career by decades.

Another in-joke refers to Hawass's famous child-like obsession with Indiana Jones, as reflected by his adoption of the film character's trademark hat. In an article purporting to report on Barack Obama's recent visit to Giza, the spoof Hawass calls the headwear "my famous 'Indiana Jones' hat" in one sentence before going on to claim preposterously that "it has become more famous than Indiana Jones" in the very next.

In producing his parody of Hawass, Hawass has a keen ear for statements which would have a delicious irony, were they to be made by the real Hawass. In one article dealing with a 'jealous critic', Hawass, renowned for his reluctance to publish in peer-reviewed scholarly journals says: "I do not believe that I need to prove to these people the quality and worth of my scholarship - my publications speak for themselves." Later in the same piece, Hawass's numerous and very public campaigns to smear other archaeologists and ruin their careers are sent up, as he is quoted as saying "I am also proud to state that I never pay any attention to these internal jealous feuds."

The new site's instant popularity comes as a blow to the authors of the internet's second best satirical Egyptological website, www.egyptastic.co.uk. Benny Hassan, Egyptastic's pseudonymous author, told us: "We can't compete. This guy is hilarious. I think the best thing we can do now is to publish an article with 25 mentions of the word 'Hawass' in a desperate effort to steal some of his hits. Actually, maybe 26 will do it."


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