Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Punk'd - Iraqi Style

American reality shows are brainless, but at least they're somewhat amusing. There's a small slice of entertainment that can come from them. Come on, American Idol? Dancing With The Washed Up Stars? America Has Weird Talent? So You Think You Can Dance, But You Really Can't? They take our mind off of our problems or our daily lives. They remind us how lucky we are that we're not on some dumbass show like that. Most importantly, they remind us how lucky we are that we're not a celebrity in Iraq experiencing the equivalent of Punk'd, only instead of a wacky incident taking place, they plant fake bombs in celebrities’ cars, have an Iraqi army checkpoint find them and terrify the celebrities into thinking that they are headed for maximum security prison or execution. Wait. That's a TV show?

Correct. That is a TV show. In Iraq. For the purpose of entertainment. I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea, but someone did. According to the NY Times, the show is called "Put Him in [Camp] Bucca”. And in case you were wondering, Camp Bucca is "...the large American-built high-security prison ...that held thousands of Iraqi detainees and was closed in September 2009." Sounds charming. And of course, hilarious. Uh, or not.

And really, if it's laughs that you're looking for, that's all you need to justify something as horrible as this. According to the producers of this insanity, "...the show was entertainment, that it made people laugh and that no one had gotten hurt." Right. No problem. Because what's really funny is that these poor people really thought that they had a serious chance of going to prison for the rest of their lives and/or possibly being executed. Hysterical.

The set-up goes something like this: A celebrity is "...invited to the headquarters of the private television station Al Baghdadia to be interviewed, but en route to the station a fake bomb would be planted in their car while they were being searched by Iraqi soldiers". But the fun is only just beginning! As the clandestine filming continues (a la Candid Camera or anything else with a hidden camera), the viewer gets to enjoy the reaction of the celebrities as the bogus guards at the checkpoint shout such hilarities at them such as as: “Why do you want to blow us up?” “You are a terrorist.” “How much did they pay you to do it? You will be executed.” Does it get any better than that? I can't imagine.

Look, I know that things are tough in Iraq, but this doesn't exactly seem like the best place to go to for a little humor. It would be one thing if the show was depicting a scenario that was completely unrealistic or unbelievable or something like that. But, sadly, it depicts a scenario that could actually occur. You could actually be thrown in jail for the rest of your life or executed for appearing like you're trying to blow something up (ie, having a bomb in tow) in Iraq. At the very least, can you imagine the fear that would go through someone who knew that there was something seriously wrong, yet still knew that even a misunderstanding could get them imprisoned for Allah only knows how long before things get all straightened out?! IF they ever did get straightened out!

This program is supposed to air during Ramadan, which happens to go on for like a month. The ironic part is that, according to the maybe right, maybe not-so-right, Wikipedia, during Ramadan, one is supposed to "...pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds." That show doesn't sound like it does that quite so much. It kind of sounds like it does absolutely the opposite of that. Then again, during Ramadan, they're also supposed to "refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn until sunset". Sounds like a heck of a holiday. Maybe "Put Him In [Camp] Bucca" is supposed to help relieve some of the frustrations that must arise during that time, regardless of the irony. Hey! If it takes watching a man fear that he will be executed for something that he did not do in order to cheer those folks up, so be it!

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