It’s Ramadan and the Arabic TV channels are festooned with shows that vary from recurring popular soap operas, cooking and competition shows — but one has become the talk of the town.
Al Sadma, or The Shock, the Arabic version of the popular American show What Would You Do, is a reality TV prank show. But it’s not like many other tasteless reality shows that invoke fright and even terror, it is a show that invokes morality and examines humanity.
Late one night in the capitol city a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. "Give me your money!" he demanded. Indignant, the affluent man replied, "You can't do this - I'm a Member of Parliament!" "In that case," replied the robber, "give me MY money!"
Sometimes all you can do when you hear the latest news from the political stages all over the world is – laugh. Actually, laughing is a good thing in politics. Humor has become a major vehicle for political information. Political commentary in late night shows and political comedy have become an important part of political communication. Humor helps to transmit information and messages in a way that dry news formats probably can’t do.
In July I wrote a piece about Simulated Realities, Manipulated Perceptions. In it I queried our apparent pre-occupation with the gruesomeness of war, as seen through a media lens. I took Pakistan as a case study for our obsession with disaster and attempted to apply a Baudrillardian theory to new coverage of terrorism in the country. The irony is, that this article was picked up by an editor for one of the biggest Pakistani news agencies, and ever since I have been writing a weekly column for them.
Having spent years watching and commenting on the media, I have crossed sides, and although I remain a “blogger” not a “writer”, I feel as if I am on the periphery of the very beast I have long deplored. My short, but intense time at Dawn has been a real challenge, as I have sought to write in a way that I have advocated journalists to and continue to challenge the mainstream media perceptions from within.