Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Idol Chatter

The LA Times today had a piece on the Afghan version of American Idol, "Afghan Star". The Taliban banned music as sacrilegious, and music is just now peeping out of the woodwork. I'm not sure if an Afghan version of American Idol is preferable to empowering local musicians to travel around the villages playing music, but hey, better than the other alternative.

A little way down the article, we get this:

The other female contestant, a 21-year-old woman from Herat named Setara, causes the biggest furor of all. She was a controversial figure, scorned by elder views while adored by young girls for her modern fashion and Bollywood-style makeup. But at the film's end she causes a storm of controversy by letting her headscarf slip and engaging in what, by Western standards, would be considered an incredibly tame series of dance moves. It would be something of an understatement to say that all hell breaks loose.
What happens to Setara after her act of rebellion? Keep reading:
Setara has to go into hiding after being denounced by a variety of critics: her fellow contestants; the country's powerful Council of Islam Scholars; and regular viewers, including one mild-mannered young boy who says she "should be killed."

Reminds me of something. This article in the LA Times on December 4th, for instance,

The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit public interest law firm closely tied to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia and provides legal assistance in defense of what it calls "Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family," filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over Lambert's controversial performance at the AMAs. In it, the group called on the FCC to fine ABC for "airing such an outrageously lewd and filthy performance during a show and time period that is targeted for family audiences."
That's about Adam Lambert, of course, an openly gay performer in America and runner up on American Idol - in America.

The two stories, half a world apart, are almost exactly similar at this point. One the one hand it's nice to know that we are all the same under the skin and want the same things - in this case freedom of expression of your gender and sexuality - but other hand it's not so nice to learn that one of the other things these disparate peoples both want is to shut people up if their sexuality is not sanctioned by their religion. One hopes, and works for, a time when there more people join the first type, of whatever race and sex, and leave behind fewer of the second type.

And in case you were about to point out a difference in the two reactions: some Americans do support the death penalty for it - as Uganda is currently learning.

I wasn't going to comment on Adam Lambert because performers trying to make a splash are not the same as private citizens whose public displays of affection set off reactions in the reactionary. Setara didn't have to let her veil slip and Lambert didn't have to kiss his organist or his organist's organ, or both or whatever. Lambert, at least, knew what he was doing and knew it would kick up a fuss and he knows what they say about no such thing as bad publicity. But he's perfectly correct when he says that heterosexually-paired dancers have been doing the same things to each other for years - I was virtually traumatized by Paula Abdul's Cold Hearted Snake when I first came to this country, even though I came from the land of topless Page 3 girls. It all seemed so very naughty. I didn't form any institutions with the name "liberty" in them to get it banned though.

If she can do it, he can.

On the subject of doing what comes naturally, in the raking it in sense, I see Eminem's done what comes naturally to him and put the names of three gay American Idols into a lyric couplet that goes, “Sorry, Lance, Mr. Lambert, and Aiken ain’t gonna make it/They get so mad when I call them both fake, it’s/All these f—in’ voices in my head, I can’t take it!” where "fake, it's" can be heard as "f*ggots". Personally I'd be more upset about being called fake than gay. Being fake is definitely a lifestyle choice. And I think Eminem knows that very well.

Eminem and Lambert both know how to work the system and I guess they'll survive. Don't know about Setara, though.


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