Saturday, June 13, 2009

Exporting American Values, Enlightened Governance...and Absolute Bilge

One note on working with the Iraqi Security Forces: television is ubiquitous. Every office (that has electricity) has a television running in it. Not necessarily on the news (as you might find in US military offices). I've sat in meetings and planning sessions with everything from Steven Seagal movies, the A-Team, Steel Magnolias, and Tom & Jerry. Frequently, the volume is not muted or even turned down while a conference or conversation is taking place. And, personnel in the room are vulnerable to the TV drift, where their eyes wander over, and glaze, and their attention is obviously not on the subject at hand.
I've mentioned to my counterpart before that drifting off like that, or even acknowledging that there is a television in the room, in a US General Officer's office is an invitation to get wire-brushed. The response was something like, "Ah, you don't understand. For thirty years, there was only one station, and it was all Saddam, all the time. Now, Iraqis can see what goes on in the world. It is one reason why we will never be enslaved again."
Okay, as far as it goes.
But today, walking into my counterpart's office, I had to throw down a "Oh, hellll no!" The satellite was beaming in "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Now, think what you will of that particular show, but I'm in the office of a conservative, Muslim officer and this is going to be his idea of America? I had to explain to him that "reality television" was anything but, and that this was not how 99% of the country lived its life. On top of that, the eponymous matrons were getting their astrological charts done, so I was interrogated for an ass-tearing amount of time on astrology and whether Americans believe that bullshit.
Consider the picture that Third World nations get of the US when their only exposure is through television--especially if it's reality television. Ugh. It took me about about 10 minutes of cajoling to get him to change the channel to an Arabic music station. Which is to my ear kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard, but a definite improvement over a reality show.

1 comment:

  1. good job on what i hope is 99% of the american population.Iran was a pretty hip place till religious hardliners got fed up with the kind of crap on those reality shows.Might i suggest rescue me, breaking bad, mad men, the shield, and the best and oldest reality show cops. hope alls good.