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Cairo CosmopolitanPolitics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East$
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Diane Singerman and Paul Amar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162893

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162893.001.0001

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When the Lights Go Down in Cairo

When the Lights Go Down in Cairo

Cinema as Global Crossroads and Space of Playful Resistance

Chapter:
(p.415) 15 When the Lights Go Down in Cairo
Source:
Cairo Cosmopolitan
Author(s):

Walter Armbrust

Publisher:
American University in Cairo Press
DOI:10.5743/cairo/9789774162893.003.0016

Filmgoing in downtown Cairo had long taken place in the gap between official hopes for cinema as a vehicle for socially edifying purposes, and the unpredictable reality of audiences in movie theaters. Certainly by the late 1980s, movie theaters had lost favor in the eyes of cultural gatekeepers. Male youth had taken them over. Elites willfully mischaracterized these young men as a barbarian invasion of lower-class “tradesmen,” thereby obfuscating a phenomenon that was, in reality, connected to a broad downgrading of middle-class fortunes in the post-Nasser era. As open-market economies inexorably became the only policy choice on offer, promises made in an earlier era of social advancement through education began to ring hollow. The life stage of the “student” began to look like a prison sentence as it elongated into eternity, while marriage—traditionally the boundary between childhood and adulthood—receded into the distance.

Keywords:   filmgoing, Cairo, cinema, movie theaters, young men, lower-class tradesmen, open-market economies, education, student, social advancement

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