"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fighting Terrorism with Television!

So today I want to hear your thoughts on something.Well, that is nothing new as I always welcome your feedback. However, cultural issues interest me and I really am curious about this topic.

Yesterday I posted a WikiLeaks story on Facebook that stated,

"Satellite broadcasts of the US TV shows Desperate Housewives and Late Show With David Letterman are doing more to persuade Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of US government propaganda, informants have told the American embassy in Jeddah."
Fighting terrorism better than the US government
In fun I also put this on Twitter:

"Good to read how TV shows have influenced youth to not resort to violent jihad! Way to go, Hollywood! I don't give you enough credit!"

I'm not much of a Twitter-er. I mostly read others' tweets and occasionally reply to them.  Anyway, I wrote that and soon after a friend replied with this:

"yet, according to Superfreakonomics, TV is the major cause of violence in america"

(Ironically enough a female friend on Facebook replied to the WikiLeaks link about Desperate Housewives by writing: "who'd have thought!? Desperate Housewives makes me WANT to commit violence......")

I replied to my Twitter friend:

"so it seems each culture reacts to Hollywood differently. Seems like an interesting study. Any thoughts about the differences?"

Then read this reply from him upon waking today:

"it would make for a good blog post :) I also read that tv is doing something similar in India empowering women."

I replied that he needs to write about this as I enjoy discussing these cultural differences. WikiLeaks is hardly a scientific study.  Not sure about Superfreakonomics, but any title with "freak" doesn't scream "scientific study" to me.  Of course I may be wrong.

In the spirit of this-is-not-scientific-but-interesting-to-discuss, I want to hear YOUR thoughts.  I am actually formulating some of my own, but am also interested in what you have to say on this topic.

Accurate portrayals of the United States?

So please share. Why would watching Desperate Housewives and other TV shows reduce violent jihad in the Middle East, yet these same shows influence American youth to be more violent? And how is that also different in India where TV of some sort is empowering women? What do you believe is your society's reaction to watching television shows especially those from the West or another culture?  Do you think Western movies and television shows have had a positive or negative influence or no influence at all?  What have Western shows taught you about the West?  What things did you learn from TV/movies that you found inaccurate when you met ordinary people from the West? What things were quite accurate of those you met?  For those living in the US, what do you think our TV/movies teach others about us? Do you like what they teach? What would you change? What would you keep the same?

And, Wafa', I am working on my list of weird facts for you!  In the meantime, if you want to know some weird traits about Wafa', check out her cute post.


Lat said...

TV is a big phenomenon and it certainly affects life in different ways to different people.But some people only see it's effects in one way and so 'declare' TV as haram.

I do not know how shows like Desperate Housewives affect Saudis but here,I and husband used to be fans of the show.Now it's relegated to a late timeslot that both of us can't stay up to watch.(We are early birds.To see past 11'clock,it must really be a good show.lol.)

Now this means that censorship has acted in order to stop the young from seeing the show which was not previously the case.That's regretful.

Indian(Tamil) TV does show some form of women's empowerment.In cases of education,shouldering family responsibilities,breaking from tradition etc.But the big screen,still perceive heroines as voluptuous pretty doll make-ups dancing and shaking hips and singing as part of their major duties except for shows here and there that stands out.So there's a gap between what the big and small screens show about women's empowerment.So is there any wonder why in past years,drama serials have increased tremendously? :)

Western shows have both negative and positive aspects,(so does Indian shows but mostly they are conservative).And whenever I see my kids seeing a particular negative idea,I tell them so esp violence and vulgar language.Because sometimes they may think it's a natural American thing to do.

You asked in your previous post how America was different from past colonial superpower,to me it's thru' propaganda like this.Americanism have entered our lives not just thru' movies but also in our ideas on fashion,language,creativity etc and mainly on democratical thoughts.They didn't have to occupy the country to cause change and reform.I wouldn't say they are all negative.There are very good aspects as well.It's how we adopt them and excell in life,inside out.

Thanks for sharing your twitter thoughts over here!

Suroor said...

I don't have cable so I don't watch TV at all. Believe it or not I have never watched DHs so I don't know much about how TV is affecting people.

Wafa' said...

first of all, thanks for the link back and i am waiting for your list :)

now, to the leak about the impression of TV on Saudi youth.
i think i am either way out of reach with the youth or that the leak is way exaggerated. Yes, people are more and more condemning terrorism, but i guess it's because what's happening right now is a very transparent war against it in here. before, things used to be done in the dark, now people are more familiar with what's happening, who is who, their finance, the people involve...etc. So people are seeing what is happening to terrorists and how they are being tackled down.
People here are in general are afraid from the government, they know that it will use bad tactics to get them if they involve in such things and the harm they can have on their loved ones, so mostly they stay away from such things, but lots of people still believe in fighting the infidel and so on, so i guess the next war should be on idea and it's going on side by side with the war on terrorism in here.

As for TV, it does play a big part in our societies since there are not lots of outdoor activities and people tend to believe the TV is an honest branch of the media, what ever it says it's the truth. Youth, love the freedom part and the love stories, the action and the beauty and beautiful life of the character, but the problem is most of these ideas turn to the completely other side once they grow up and turn into their mid twenties.

The Saudi society is a youth one but a desperate one. right now, it's happy and full of dreams, but the lack of freedom in lots of ways is what turning some of them into the opposite side once they realize and grow up.

Susanne said...

Lat,I enjoyed your thorough comment very much! LOL...well,I'm an early bird too then. I try to go to sleep by 11. I am amazed by some of my Arab friends who are up to 2, 3 or 4 in the morning!

I wonder why the gov't censored Desperate Housewives. Well, honestly I'd never let a child watch it. I've never watched it, but from what I've seen in ads and read, it doesn't seem to be something I would enjoy.

Glad you explained the India TV empowerment thing. I enjoyed your explanation of how things are different between the big and small screens.

"And whenever I see my kids seeing a particular negative idea,I tell them so esp violence and vulgar language.Because sometimes they may think it's a natural American thing to do."

Yes, that's very wise! Parents here do this as well because NOT all of us are this way.Nor do we champion sleeping around with any ol' person which is often paraded on TV as something good.

".Americanism have entered our lives not just thru' movies but also in our ideas on fashion,language,creativity etc and mainly on democratical thoughts.They didn't have to occupy the country to cause change and reform."

I guess the good thing about this kind of occupation is that you can choose to turn off the TV and NOT watch the American shows and movies and refuse to let them change you, right?

Thanks much for your comment!

Susanne said...

Suroor, I never watched it either, but Samer told me how good it was to help him understand America better.


Susanne said...

Wow, Wafa', your honest assessment of your society made me sad. :(

I'm really glad you shared that though. Thank you!