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Reality Television, Gender, and Authenticity in Saudi Arabia

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on 6 April 2016

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Transcript of Reality Television, Gender, and Authenticity in Saudi Arabia

Reality Television, Gender, and Authenticity in Saudi Arabia
When a reality TV show is localized to a foreign country, do you think it upholds unique cultural beliefs, or is Western homogenization primly the goal of this media format?
Star Academy
Arabic Reality TV Show
Controversy revolving around notion of authenticity
Promotion of women's agency and cultural hybridity
What are some of the differences between the show's ideals and cultural ideals based on the clip?
When you first think of any reality TV show, what stereotypical images of women come to mind?
Saudi National Identity
Purifying Saudi Islam from foreign influence
Anxieties about social impact of technology
Anxiety about ideoscape
Strict censorship on television, primarily a propaganda tool
What specifically about S
tar Academy struck such a sensitive chord and caused such a controversy in Saudi Arabia?
Conservative Reaction
"It is not sufficient for you to abstain from watching these shows, [but you are responsible for reminding everyone else around you]."
Liberal Reaction
"How vulnerable we must be if a TV program can 'destroy our moral standards', and teach our children bad things. If our society is that weak, then we have every reason to stop all TV programs, close our doors and windows and stay home."
Do you think society is vulnerable to media, no matter where in the world? Do you agree more with the conservative side or liberal side?
New dimension: "I like the show, but have moral reservations."
Could this show simply be a guilty pleasure? Do you think there's a chance it is not harming the culture, but simply acts as entertainment?
Closing Remarks
Reality TV = spontaneous, unrehearsed, representation of authenticity
Controversy between ideas of authenticity of culture/religion and television product
"Star Academy viewers therefore become agents in the creation of a contemporary social reality that clashes head on with regnant Saudi definitions of authenticity...Reality TV therefore poses a threat to prescribed and publicized rituals of religious and social reproduction."
"If Saudis are less religious than is commonly assumed, then attitudes and official policy towards gender are at least partly inspired by social norms that overlap but are not subsumed into religious beliefs and practices."
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