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July 30, 2005


No electricity, no water, no future… but at least Iraqis now have reality TV:

A WHITE stretch limo is a rare sight on the bomb-scarred streets of Baghdad. […] But once a week a blushing bride and her nervous groom step inside a luxury car and bring a rare moment of hope to Iraqis.
The lavish ceremonies, with catered parties and the best hotels that Baghdad can offer, are brought to Iraqi televisions every week in the hit show Best Wishes, one of a slew of reality TV programmes that are captivating a people more used to watching news footage of death on their doorsteps.
… Reality television shows organise weddings for the poor, medical aid abroad for sick children, a pension lottery for the elderly and the reconstruction of bombed houses. One programme, called Among the People, is simply a cameraman walking through some of the few areas where people still brave the bombs to venture out of an evening.
“It’s absolutely a big success,” said Majid al-Samarrai, a senior producer for Sharqiya private television, which has pioneered the new generation of reality TV. “We see the happiness on the faces of the people whose houses we have rebuilt and those still waiting because of the American destruction during the war.”
So far his show has rebuilt five houses, including one wrecked by a car bomb, and delivered $1,000 pension bonuses to dozens of elderly people who would otherwise only scrape by.

Iraqi reality TV is a little more hazardous than its American counterpart, however:

On one occasion the Sharqiya team went to the lawless Shia town of Amarah, where British troops are based, to deliver a lump sum to a lucky pensioner. They went to the winner’s house and were greeted by the family. But some locals told the crew that the house had been taken over by bandits who were masquerading as the winning family, planning to take the money and then hold the crew to ransom.

This strategy might also work for U.S. reality-show participants.

Posted by Stephen at 12:05 AM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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