Sunday, July 13, 2008

Aliens in America

There's this new show on the CW network called Aliens in America about Raja a Muslim foreign exchange student from Pakistan that is living with his host family in Wisconsin. The show airs on the CW network on Sunday nights at 8:30/7:30 central.

This isn't the first show that attempted to bring Muslims and their lifestyles into the Western living room in order to prove to the rest of the world that Muslims are people too. The Canadian show Little Mosque on the Prairie sought out to portray the same message.

While I don't watch T.V. for the mere reason that there is too much garbage on it (that's a topic for another entry), I find that its not such a bad idea to have a Muslim personality on the screen so long as the message being spread about Islam is the right one. It is for this reason exactly, if I had to choose between Aliens in America or Little Mosque on the Prairie I would have to whole heartedly cast my vote for the latter.

Little Mosque on the Prairie did an excellent job of portraying Muslims appropriately, making sure to keep in mind the rules of hijaab and the rules of gender relations while at the same time throwing in a little laugh out loud kind of humor. The show was not all comedy and no truth. In fact, it was the right blend of jokes and facts. The show did an amazing job of explaining the rules of gender relations and how Muslims went about courting for marriage, it explained Ramadan, it showed that women were not oppressed and that they played a huge role in the Mosque, it simply did an amazing job. While it definitely wasn't Islam 101 the TV edition, it did an adequate job.

On the other hand, the whole five minutes of Aliens in America is just enough to send me with some picket sign to protest the show in front of CW headquarters. The show is absurd! I mean, if you're gong to have someone being Muslim on a show, at least have it be an authentic representation! As my mom was flipping channels in the living room, I noticed a girl in a hijaab, so naturally I asked her to stay on that channel...two minutes into the show I wanted to take my computer and throw it at the TV screen.

The scene that I witnessed was this Muslim girl in a hijaab sitting at a table in a restaurant across from Raja (the Muslim main character), they are supposed to be on a date, a halal one - mind you - only the parents have not arrived yet. Anyways they are talking (I wasn't really listening as I was rather annoyed) and then she says "I have one western tendency..when I like someone I do this" and then leans over and kisses him!! He proceeds to say "I will have to ask you to refrain from doing that from now on, unless of course we get married...nonetheless, thank you." Astaghfirullah! Smoke was coming out of my ears. In the next scene, I wasn't really listening, but I saw, and the same Muslim hijaabi walking in the restaurant hand-in-hand with a caucasian, my guess would be non-Muslim boy.

Its a shame that Muslims are being portrayed as people with no morals. What's wrong with the idea of having a sitcom with a Muslim cast member who is on the show to humerously debunk common misconceptions about Muslims OR to humerously explain Islamic rules and practices? I am absolutely disgusted!


1 comment:

ERTW said...

Hahah. Your writing is excellent and a joy to read. I'm going to have to read everything.

As for this post, I can understand that Muslims may not like the representation given by "Aliens in America" but to be honest, I found the show to be pretty funny. The issue is that the Muslim(s) aren't very authentic, but that's how the real world is. You have Muslims of all types, practicing, non-practicing, moderates, etc. As a comedy, I think it's okay to poke fun at different Muslims, even when they're not being very religious. I agree that Little Mosque on the Prairie does a better job of showing good moderate Muslims but it has its problems too. I knew from before that none of the actors were actually Muslim which is okay, but one night while flipping through some stations, I saw the actor who plays the imam on a show a. I think the show was Metropia. On the show he was playing a gay man and he ends up meeting another guy at a bar. Lets just say the show took it to the next level and pretty much showed the following love session. Obviously I didn't watch it all but I did catch a glimpse before I could change channels. I don't think I can ever watch Little Mosque on the Prairie again knowing what sort of stuff the actors have done.

In conclusion, you can't really prevent the media from portraying Muslims however they want. I guess after the world seeing just hate and terror from Muslims through western news, a good laugh might not be so bad.