With recent blockbusters like Doctor Strange 2 and Moon Knight, the MCU is in a wonderful situation during Phase 4, but the series still has some content release issues. This is specifically about censoring of certain projects, whether for a forthcoming title or retrospectively after they are available for streaming on Disney+.
Spider-Man: No Way Home was delayed in China owing to the Statue of Liberty’s importance in the climactic fight, while the presence of LGBTQIA+ content in Eternals and Doctor Strange 2 created concerns in the Middle East. Disney has been emphatic about ensuring that this type of inclusiveness and representation is not lost in its MCU products, which hasn’t gone over well with certain people across the globe.
Moon Knight has had its fair share of criticism, owing mostly to Oscar Isaac’s casting and the usage of Marc Spector’s Jewish ancestry. Now that the bulk of the Disney+ event has taken place in Egypt, its director has reflected on another contentious aspect of the production that caused controversy in his own nation.
Moon Knight Music Creates Uproar in Egypt
An clip from Vox described how the music of Moon Knight created controversy in Egypt after the episode’s debut.
When Marc and Layla are going down the Nile in Episode 3, the song “Salka” by Hassan Shakosh starts playing. The genre of the song, Mahraganat, is contentious in Egypt, having been accused for being overly vulgar and political by exposing concerns that the Egyptian working class faces. Shakosh has been prohibited and outlawed in the nation on several times, and attempts to eradicate the genre persist.
Director Mohamed Diab wanted to ensure that his native nation was shown in a non-stereotypical manner, particularly given how many Egypt-centric productions have done so in the past:
“One problem that was extremely crucial for me was figuring out how to depict Egypt, since we’re often regarded in a very orientalist, stereotyped light.”
Dartmouth University historian Andrew Simon commented that Mahraganat “reveals a conflict over what Egyptian culture is, and who has the power to construct it,” citing its usage in Moon Knight as an example. This inclusion resulted from “much to the chagrin of Egyptian officials,” despite the fact that the government is still “actively attempting to stifle the genre.”
The title of the song loosely translates to “unobstructed,” and it represents the power of Egypt’s working class. It begins when Marc Spector and Layla El-Faouly are on their way down the river to meet Gaspard Ulliel’s Anton Mogart. While it is not overtly political, it has strong implications about the economic and social constraints that keep Egypt’s working class behind, as well as commentary on the political culture as a whole.
This was one of several songs Diab included that included Mahraganat singers, many of whom are not authorized to perform in Egypt at all.
Ahmed Naji, a novelist and critic, recalled the uproar produced by these songs, which resulted in the denial of music licenses to at least 19 performers last year:
“The majority of the songs Diab utilized in this program are by artists who are barred from performing in Egypt.” It sparked a lot of debate and generated a lot of attention.” This also comes at a particularly difficult moment for the country, since the national government has imprisoned tens of thousands of political activists for exercising their right to free expression.
Egypt’s Problems Are Mentioned in the Moon Knight Soundtrack
Although Moon Knight’s links to ancient Egyptian mythology introduced fresh dimensions of excitement to the MCU, creator Mohamed Diab was certain that the program would not be all rainbows and happiness. As a native Egyptian, he knows the everyday challenges that many of his people face, which prompted him to want to pay respect to that community in a subtle manner via his work with Marvel Studios.
While the MCU continues to deal with all forms of controversies, Diab and his crew seem to be more than comfortable taking on this one since it highlights what Egypt is truly going through in this day and age. After all, Diab has remarked on how other brands haven’t fairly reflected his nation, and he’s not hesitant to stand out for what he believes is right.
The series shows no indications of ever suppressing these sorts of perspectives, particularly as additional projects with diverse characters take center stage.