Opinion

Immortality by video

Zan Azlee

Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com

JULY 16 — Fidel Castro is an old man and unwell so he had to finally step down as Cuba’s president and let his brother Raul (who’s also quite old!) take over.

Then he disappeared from the public’s eye. That is, up until earlier this week when he decided to make an appearance on television.

When the video of him appeared on Cuban television, many critics said that it was probably shot sometime ago.

Adding to the suspicion was the fact that he failed to discuss the country’s current affairs, such as the release of 52 political prisoners by his brother.

Then, of course, he made a public appearance and squashed all rumours that he had been dead (or really sick!) for some time.

Castro isn’t the only old and ageing leader trying to live forever through video. There are quite a few who come to mind.

There is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong-il. This dude apparently had a stroke and underwent major brain surgery.

He hasn’t been seen in public since 2008 and even foreign intelligence agencies have been baffled by his disappearance. They say he is probably dead.

Then the videos on television began. Kim was shown visiting factories and other places around the country.

Of course, many people outside of the country questioned the authenticity of the videos, saying they could have been recorded anytime before he got sick (or died).

But as far as North Korea and their people are concerned, as long as they see him on the tube, he’s still their Super Duper Leader.

But the granddaddy of video immortality has to be Osama Bin Laden. His steady flow of videos to the media has never ceased.

Many people believe he is actually dead, what with his kidney problems and all. But without a body, and with the videos still coming out, there’s no way to confirm.

Every Osama video has detractors who study every single detail from the grey strands in his beard to the clouds in the background.

But still, nothing conclusive has come out of it. Instead, these videos have become a prime motivation for the growth and activities of al Qaeda globally.

So if you want to live forever, record yourself talking in general terms and get someone to release it in instalments after you die.

But it is very important to make sure no one knows you’re really dead or else they won’t listen to what you have to say.

It’s perfect for the world’s ex-leaders who still want to make noise after they die. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad can still criticise the country’s prime ministers for decades to come and Singapore’s Mentor Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, can continue to be the island’s ruler and not worry that his kid (grandkid and great grandkid!) will screw up.

And Kevin Rudd can ensure that Oz Land’s first woman prime minister and all her future successors won’t let their hormones get in the way of their work.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Comments