Tunisia’s Funny Responses To Wrongful Reports That Stars Wars’ Sets Under ISIS Control
Majors news outlets like CNN and Huffington Post wrongfully reported that Stars Wars’ set in Tunisia was now controlled by ISIS; so Tunisians -who know first hand that it’s totally untrue- responded the best way the know: by making mèmes and sharing them on social media !
But CNN used “Star Wars” in their title as a clicking bait (wonder where they learned such a technique? *wink*) and all other major media outlets jumped on it, misinterpreted it and blew it out of proportion without verifying anything; Or even reading the article!
Had they read it, they would have found out that saying that the Stars Wars sets were now taken over by ISIS in their subsequent articles is like if Buzzfeed’s Alison Vingiano had titled this story about Two Illinois Men Arrested For Conspiring To Help ISIS “ISIS claim Chicago” !
The set had been deteriorating in the hot desert sun since the late 1970s. Then in 2012, the group managed to raise more than $11,000 through a Facebook page to finance a trip to restore the homestead. The team worked with locals for four days on the repairs. The Save the Lars Homestead project members put in a new foundation, fixed the steps to the building, and repainted it. They installed a commemorative plaque, and an entry coder designed to look like the one from the original Star Wars flick.
Mark Dermul, a Belgian native, led this project. He guided groups of Star Wars fans to related Tunisian locations between 2000 and 2012, and wrote several books on the subject.
And he was not pleased with recent, misleading coverage of the site he once helped restore.
“I have been receiving many questions from fans and journalists alike with regards to the news about ISIS-related terrorist activity in Tunisia at this time,” he wrote in a statement. “Some people even go so far as to ask me what we can do to save the Lars Homestead from the terrorists… [But] the activity takes place in the sleepy town of Tataouine, which is south of Medenine near the [Libyan] border (60 miles). The [Star Wars] locations referred to in the news media are all the way across the Chott el Jerid on the other side of the country, over 200 miles away!”
Dermul had last traveled to Tunisia with his family for a weeklong holiday last April. It was his sixth time visiting Tunisia. “My kids had never seen the Star Wars locations before and they told me that it was time for me to show them,” he told The Daily Beast. “So I did.”
He blames the erroneous viral stories on “bad journalism,” or perhaps “popular” journalism, as “Star Wars sells copy.” Regardless, he sees this fixation on George Lucas’s old filming locations as weird, especially since human lives could be on the line.
“I have also been a bit annoyed, to put it mildly, by people who contacted me to ask me what I planned to do to protect the movie sets from the terrorists,” Dermul continued. “Not only is that a strange question—for what could I possibly do?—but it also shows a strange frame of mind. Hundreds of people are suffering from these terrorist activities and people are worried about movie sets? I think we need to focus on what is really important here. And it is not the safety of brick-and-plaster buildings that were once seen on the silver screen. It’s the people of Tunisia, who already have a hard time trying to eke out something of a reasonable life in harsh conditions. This will only make their suffering worse as many needed tourism dollars will no longer be spent in that beautiful country.”