March 26, 2004

Dabashi, Hamid
[CLME W4031] Cinema and Society in Asia and Africa

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Dabashi is by far the absolute worst professor i've had during my graduate career at Columbia, and that he manages to garner teaching accolades, attract groupies comprised of nubile undergraduates, and remains the chair of two departments despite sheer incompetence, arrogance, total lack of organization and general smarminess, I'm sure are signs that the four horsemen of the Apocolypse have just touched down, and will be galloping among us quite soon.

For all his dramatics and colorful metaphors, Dabashi is really himself what he enjoys calling his critics, "a failed academic". Dabashi not only manages to avoid discussing intelligently or coherently the films he screens , he completely neglects to mention anything from any of the books he's assigned. Instead he rambles incoherently about Hegel, Nietzsche and a host of other German philosophers who have nothing to do with this class.

As a previous reviewer noted, Robert Stam's "Subversive Pleasures", was the only book worth buying, and frankly it was the only book from which i learned anything about film!! Dabashi's assigns his own book (i wouldn't call it a book, actually- it's more like a large, badly written brochure) on Iranian cinema, entitled "Close-Up" ( the cover of which Orientalizes/exoticizes Muslim women by repeating the cliche of one in full burka, standing in a beam of light no less). If you are unfortunate enough to shell over $ for a copy and spend time reading it, you just confirm what you already knew before buying it: Dabashi doesn't really know much about Iranian cinema(or any cinema). He's just friends with alot of Iranians who happen to be world renown filmmakers and he enjoys cooing about them.
I could put up with all the patronizing and indignity in the world from any professor as long as i learned SOMETHING from him or her! Dabashi, however, is incapable of either formulating or inspiring any original thought, though he's quite fluent at speaking out of his 'arse'. If you catch him doing this, he will bring the full force of his tongue bearing down upon your sorry head. He has no respect or patience for opinions contradicting his own, no matter how well and respectfully articulated, and he has no time for his students outside the classroom.

It would be quite apt for him to one day screen "The Wizard of Oz" as he shares so much in common with the title character: flashy, moody, and full of hot air. Do not waste your money or time taking this class or any class by him.

Workload:

four short papers; final paper; disorganized film screenings; absolutely no feedback from professor dabashi or his overworked TAs.