Text messaging and ringtones hot stuff amongst Iraqi youth. Seeing as my job is all about text messaging and ringtones, this article is pretty interesting for me. Here in the US you can order ringtones via text messages. In Iraq, they’re bought on special CDs. Here’s a some snippets:
In a city bereft of entertainment, text messaging and swapping ringtones are all the rage for young Iraqis trying to lighten their lives. Most restaurants, cafes and movies have closed due to the country’s security situation.
The content of the text messages and ringtones speak volumes about the state of affairs here: jokes and songs about suicide bombings, sectarianism, power outages, gas prices, Saddam Hussein and George Bush.
Cellphone shops, the only crowded stores these days, sell special CDs with ringtones at about $2 apiece. Collections of short jokes especially written for texters are best-sellers.
. . .
The daily reality of violence and explosions has influenced every aspect of Iraqi life — including love notes. “I send you the tanks of my love, bullets of my admiration and a rocket of my yearning,” one popular message reads.
A popular ringtone features the music from Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise. But the local version includes a voice similar to Saddam’s rapping in English: “I’m Saddam, I don’t have a bomb/Bush wants to kick me/I don’t know why/smoking weed and getting high/I know the devil’s by my side.”
The song concludes with: “My days are over and I’m gonna die/all I need is chili fries” as a crowd yells “Goodbye forever, may God curse you.”
Competing with Saddam for the most popular song in Iraq today is Iraqi pop star Hossam al-Rassam — “Ma, I’ve been stung by a scorpion.” Its sensual lyrics challenge widespread conservatism in Iraq by talking about a girl’s lips and perfume “that make you live longer.”
Rasha Tareq, 23, has al-Rassam’s ringtone, as well as dozens of others by Lebanese singers. The most expensive ringtones include songs by Egyptian pop star Amr Diab.
“Ah, well, Dad pays for all that,” she said.
Dad also paid for her Nokia 7660 as well as the eight other models she has bought since cellphones first hit the market after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Iraq has a long way to go before it’s back to “normal,” but I take this as a sign that it’s getting there.