A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the other marines in Lebanon

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 27, 2007

While waiting for my flight to depart last week, I picked up MEA’s in-flight magazine and began idly flipping through it.

Along with lavish coverage of this summer’s Beiteddine Festival program (do the Hariris own that, too?), I saw this advertisement:


Yes, its quite a piece of work.

Bracketing the obvious oddities – that the family is clearly not Lebanese and has a very curious role-playing hobby – what struck me most intensely was the brand name: Original Marines, accompanied by a stylized American flag.

The US Marines have a well-known history in Lebanon – so well known that it has become part of the United States’ subterranean memory. When I mention that I live in Beirut, this is what people ask about – and, of course, kidnapping. Despite all the events of the past year, what remains most deeply lodged in the American consciousness of Lebanon are the events of the early and mid 1980s.

When I saw this advertisement, I was horrified, imagining that some Lebanese entrepreneur had capitalized on the Marines’ name recognition (and the country’s loose interpretation of copyright law) to sell Swedish-ly preppy clothing.

But no. Original Marines, as it turns out, is an Italian company, with retail shops all over the region, from Morocco to the UAE. The promotional photograph on the corporate website is even loopier than the Cedar Wings ad.

What do Lebanon’s Original Marines wearers think of the brand name, I wonder. Do they think of the Marines’ history in Lebanon, or has it become just a name to them, much as Banana Republic is in the United States?


One Response to “the other marines in Lebanon”

  1. Very interesting. I suspect you’re right and that time has been the factor in desensitization, and seeing a name repeatedly in a different context has the effect of softening (or even erasing) prior association. I’ve often cringed with embarassment seeing the Banana Republic stores. Evidently the very pejorative connotation is completely lost nowdays. I’m waiting with great anticipation for the debut of their upcoming line of “Third World Rags” resort wear – I hear its going to be very popular (;-]!).

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