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Arab drama and what the audience wants

Gangs and drugs are okay, harassment, no...

Jerusalem24 – 24FM – Haya Rimawi (translation: Loujain Masruji) – Vibes in Arabic hosted by May Abu Assab, invited the artist and academic in the field of arts and theater, Bayan Shabib, to talk about the impact of drama on the social behavior of individuals.  “It’s just that drama produces a state of controversy on social media, therefore it’s influential,” Shabib explains, adding that the image has replaced the word in terms of impact, resulting in a generational divide despite a 10-year age gap.

Regarding the nature of production, Shabib stated that Turkish drama has created a new wave of art in the last 20 years that only broadcasts an aesthetic visual message, despite the fact that its messages never correspond with our societies. However, we notice a strong demand for follow-up, but when these ideas and messages are presented with an Arab perspective on production, we see boycott campaigns.

And the Al-Rawabi School for Girls series presented a model; however, the controversy began with the trailer, which was released before the episodes were first broadcast, because the promotional shots feature “school girls in short clothes.”

“In the Arab world, there is an agreed-upon societal phobia with topics like harassment, honor killings, nepotism, and bullying, and this series covers these issues,” Bayan Shabib explains.

Shabib claims that Arab societies accept, for example, series or films that contain scenes of murder, violence, or drugs, and even sympathize with the criminal, as seen in the AL- Haiba series, in which the hero is made in an attractive manner that excites even educated women, and young people sympathize with and are even affected by this character, despite the fact that he is a criminal and a gangster.

According to Shabib, this is because such shows give the audience a sense of “safety,” and they retain things as they are: “the clan, the power, resorting to a strong person to help you out of any trouble you stumble into.” However, when a show deals with new and unusual subjects such as murder, homosexuality, domestic abuse, or mental illness, Arab viewers are utterly turned off.

“When we see productions that contradict our values or broadcast hidden messages such as films and series that call for normalization and legitimization,” Shabib says, “instead of boycott calls and the great efforts being made to combat it on social media, we have to create drama and anti-content against it.”

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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