Among the leaked dispatches that came to light during the latest Wikileaks release was a cable from June 2009 detailing how access to American TV and films in Saudi Arabia is doing more to dissuade young people from becoming terrorists than anything else. Among the TV shows mentioned were Friends, Desperate Housewives, The Late Show with David Letterman, and the CBS and ABC Evening News. After all, who cares about 72 virgins in the afterlife when you can have Matt LeBlanc NOW?
The upshot: American TV shows are much more effective than al-Hurra, a U.S.-funded news channel that often features interviews with U.S. politicians and plenty of programming with a pro-American slant.
“It’s still all about the war of ideas here, and the American programming on MBC and Rotana is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other US propaganda never could,” the cable says. “Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everybody wants to study in the US if they can. They are fascinated by US culture in a way they never were before.”
Wait, you mean our politicians weren’t the best representation of our people? Hold on, let me write this down… Right, we were here for the movies:
During the recent Eid holiday, Rotana’s ‘Fox Movies’ channel repeatedly aired two mawkish US dramas (again with Arabic subtitles) featuring respectful, supportive American husbands dealing with spouses suffering from addiction problems — in one case gambling (lost the kids’ college funds and then told her college professor husband it was because he was boring) and the other alcohol (smashing cars and china when she wasn’t assaulting the husband and child.) These films and others broadcast over the Eid offer models of supportive behavior in relationships, as well as exemplary illustrations of heroic honesty in the face of corruption (‘Michael Clayton’) and respect for the law over self-interest (‘Insomnia.’). [Yahoo]
Anyone have any idea what the college professor movie might be? I’ve got nothing. And are we sure these rock throwers weren’t just watching waiting for the inevitable honor killing? Meanwhile, the CIA reports that the jihadists’ best weapon against us remains Valentine’s Day, starring Queen Latifah and Ashton Kutcher, to whom he refers as “a one-man Al Qaeda recruitment drive.”