Boohoo, Pakistan Portrayed On TV As Sort Of Place Where They, Oh, Stone Women -- Which, In Real Life, They Actually Do
A Pakistani woman writes to complain about the portrayal of Pakistan on "Homeland," the Showtime show starring Clare Danes as a CIA agent dealing with Muslim terrorism.
Gregg and I have been complaining, too, about the show lately -- that the recent episodes have been slow as hell and focused on this boring baby angle.
But novelist Bina Shah writes in The New York Times:
I'm a writer of fiction, so I know about imagined worlds. You look not for complete truthfulness, but for verisimilitude -- the "appearance of being true" -- so it can give your art authenticity, credibility, believability. And we in Pakistan long to be seen with a vision that at least approaches the truth.
Pakistan has long been said to have an image problem, a kind way to say that the world sees us one-dimensionally -- as a country of terrorists and extremists, conservatives who enslave women and stone them to death, and tricky scoundrels who hate Americans and lie pathologically to our supposed allies. In Pakistan, we've long attributed the ubiquity of these images to what we believe is biased journalism, originating among mainstream American journalists who care little for depth and accuracy. By the time these tropes filter down into popular culture, and have morphed into the imaginings of showbiz writers, we've gone from an image problem to the realm of Jungian archetypes and haunting traumatized psyches.
Whenever a Western movie contains a connection to Pakistan, we watch it in a sadomasochistic way, eager and nervous to see how the West observes us. We look to see if we come across to you as monsters, and then to see what our new, monstrous face looks like. Again and again, we see a refracted, distorted image of our homeland staring back at us. We know we have monsters among us, but this isn't what we look like to ourselves.
Guess what: Nobody does TV shows about a mom taking her kids to school.
And you should be a little more focused on the monsters among you -- and how disgustingly commonplace stonings of women are, along with all the other human rights abuses that are part and parcel of Islam.
Okay, TV sometimes fails on what's exactly real:
Still, the season's first hour, in which Carrie also goes to Islamabad, offers up a hundred little clues that tell me this isn't the country where I grew up, or live. When a tribal boy examines the dead in his village, I hear everyone speaking Urdu, not the region's Pashto. Protesters gather across from the American Embassy in Islamabad, when in reality the embassy is hidden inside a diplomatic enclave to which public access is extremely limited. I find out later that the season was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, with its Indian Muslim community standing in for Pakistanis.
What you should write a New York Times op-ed on is something important, like why, while the Catholic Church is talking about being nicer to gays and lesbians, so many Muslims are behaving like it's the Dark Ages and why reform of Islam seems impossible.
The inability for reform in Islam is due to how the Quran is said to be the unquestionable word of Allah, and how looting, raping sociopath Mohammed's actions are to be emulated by Muslims. (As I noted the other day, Mohammed ordered the beheading of hundreds of Jewish men at Banu Qurayza...Mohammed is to be emulated...and we wonder why we see Muslims on the news beheading aid workers?)
And where are her op-eds lamenting the stonings? Like this one, where a pregnant woman was stoned to death -- a most horrible way to die. (This comes out of Islam, which says that women are men's possessions, and men are in charge of them [see summary at bottom].)
From the AP, "Pakistan stoning death: Father of slain pregnant woman among 5 charged":
The case has brought international attention to violence against women in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where hundreds of women are killed by relatives each year in so-called "honour killings" carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behaviour.
Yeah, but they wore the wrong hats on "Homeland"!