I’ve been fighting a cold the black plague the flu for most of the last week, so I’ve watched a lot of television. So much television that I’ve come to the conclusion that even though I have a fairly über cable package the actual amount of unique content on tv in a given day is lower than you’d think. A lot of channels seem to have six-hour bundles that they run three or four times a day, which with the repetition because of the “time shift” channels means you only have to wait a couple of hours if you miss it first time round. Add in the big networks that are rebroadcast by local channels when they don’t have original content and you can find the same show on many channels at the same time.
But this post really isn’t about the 57-channels-and-nothing’-on problem. It’s about a new reality show I’ve seen advertised. The show is called “All-American Muslim”.
On TLC, All-American Muslim is about five Muslim American families in Michigan. Quoting from the website “each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community”. I’m certain that the aim of this show is to show to Americans that the vast majority Muslims are “normal people” doing their things and not bomb-carrying lunatics looking to kill everyone not like them.
Reality television shows following “interesting” families as they go through their lives aren’t new and have included celebrity families like those of Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osborne and Kate Gosselin. And there have been shows that have looked at interesting businesses like American Pickers, Pawn Stars and Ice Pilots NWT.
The problem I have with the concept of All-American Muslim is that it is actually implying that Muslims are weird/strange/suspicious/untrustworthy in some way by virtue of the fact that the show exists. The reasoning I’ve seen some people using is basically: If there wasn’t something weird/exotic/strange/freakish about Muslims and Islam, would there be a show about them?
Judging by the results from Google, it’s definitely kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest because there are stories about anti-Muslim groups going after companies with ads on tv during the show threatening boycotts if they don’t withdraw their ads. Some are calling the show “video jihad propaganda”. It’s effectively polarizing a lot of people to the extreme ends of the tolerance spectrum, which isn’t a good thing.
I wonder how long the show will remain on the air?