Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Little Mosque: Opinions?

Little Mosque on the Prairie

There are a few more clips on YouTube here.

My previous post about this show has been pulled up in search engines since the first episode aired. People seem interested in the show, and I'm wondering what the opinions are thus far.

There was this somewhat odd preview/review:

Little Mosque On The Prairie, though fun, isn't exactly cutting-edge

An excerpt:

[...] If you can get past the SNL-sounding parody title, you'll find a charming, low-key comedy.

Unlike the usual fish-out-of-water scenario in which an ignorant and often arrogant newcomer is taken down a peg or two by the quirky but knowing locals (see Men In Trees), Little Mosque makes the locals (God-fearing white folks) ignorant and intolerant and the butt of most of the jokes, while the members of the Muslim community are peaceful, conciliatory and occasionally sharp-tongued. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The reviewer thinks this sounds just great. I suppose it does, if you think religious white people are ignorant and intolerant.

This really, is the hypocrisy of Multiculturalism. It pretends to be about being equally respectful of all cultures, but too often the reality is that it's about respecting any culuture but our own.

Imagine someone making a "comedy" about ignorant and intolerant god-fearing Muslim folks? It would never happen, of course. So why is it ok to disparage Christians that way? Isn't respect supposed to be a two-way street?

Anyhow, that was just one review, one person's opinion. As I browsed through other articles, I came across an interview with the show's creator, Zarqa Nawaz. It went into a little more depth than others I've seen, and revealed some insights into what she says she wants to do. An excerpt:

Canadian TV show explores lighter side of being Muslim
[...] The strongest insurance against outrage from the faithful is that the force behind "Little Mosque" is Zarqa Nawaz, a Canadian Muslim of Pakistani origin whose own assimilation, particularly after she left Toronto for Regina, Saskatchewan, 10 years ago, provides much of the comic fodder.

"It rests on my shoulders to get the balance right between entertainment and representing the community in a reasonable way," Nawaz, a 39-year-old mother of four, said in an interview here. "You have to push the boundaries so you can grow and evolve as a community."

There are examples given in the interview. You can see that she is pushing some of the boundries in her own Muslim community, and asking things and bringing up issues that aren't commonly addressed with more traditional Muslims. So in one way, you automatically want to support her in this. Yet in another way, when you look at these issues (I leave it to you to read the interview), it's kind of sad, as these are the kinds of things the rest of the modern world has already dealt with 60 or more years ago. If Christians were struggling with these ideas, they would be pronouced ingnorant and intolerant. But when Muslims do it, they are defended by the same people who denouce the Christians. Go figure.

I'm curious about the show, because it does sound like she is trying to do something different. Even if it's not perfect, it could have some interesting elements.

I remember when NBC's controversial series "The Book of Daniel" aired in the US. That particular show made two fatal errors, IMO. Yet many things about it were quite good, I was sorry to see it cancelled. Too bad it's creator didn't tread more lightly in a few areas.

I can only speculate about "Little Mosque", as it's not broadcast here. I will update this post with any further interesting links if anything interesting turns up. If you have seen the show, what do YOU think?

UPDATE 9:30 am
Here is a review from the Torontist:

Little Mosque: A Bloop Double (If We Use Baseball Metaphors)
[...] The best word to describe the pilot episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie is "clunky." It's not unfunny, but this is definitely a show finding its footing.

The show's biggest letdown is that it treats the obvious ethnic conflict between "average white Canadians" and Muslim-Canadians so very, very badly. It's played for laughs - which is good because it's a comedy - but the jokes aren't funny because the Dumb White Folks are so clownish and buffoonish you feel like you're being told to laugh, or worse, lectured on tolerance and diversity. (It doesn't help that Neil Crone's boring Rush Limbaugh parody and Sitara Hewitt's gratingly self-righteous young Muslim woman make one want to put on a blindfold and earmuffs until they go off the screen.)

On the bright side, however, the show picks up very nicely on another conflict - the fact that Torontonians and Albertans hate each other. (Torontoist is biased, as we are located in the greatest city in the world and not in a province full of tar-sand-loving rednecks.) There's a lot of promise here as an additional theme, not least because Zaib Shaikh plays Amaar, the new imam from Toronto, as a total city boy who knows what's best in life - like low-fat cappucinos. [...]

It also goes into some details about the cast and characters, etc. I can't reprint the whole thing here, but it's worth following the link. It's not a long review, and the comments made below it are interesting, too.

The reviewer, Christopher Bird, seems to understand that a pilot episode is the most difficult, and that you can't judge a whole show by one episode; that it is indeed a show that is still trying to find it's footing. In his opinion they have made some mistakes, but much depends on where they go from here, as the characters develop. His ending comment sums up his opinion well, ending on a hopeful note.

Related Link:

Can Laughing at Each Other Help?


Anonymous said...

"Little Mosque" depends of offensive stereotypes for its humour.

Also, while at times funny, I do wonder about how "real" the situation is. I once saw a show about how the Nazis made two propaganda films about the conflict between the British and the Irish. The films, at least according to those who were interviewed who had seen them were quite good. The only problem was that the people in the movies were not Irish. What I mean by that was that the culture of the Irish portrayed in the films in no way reflected actual Irish culture as I guess the Germans who wrote, produced, and acted in the movies never took the time to get to understand the traditions and feel of the Irish people. It just wasn't important to them because in the end it had nothing to do with the Irish. It was as one commentator of the movies said "Germans talking to Germans".

And that is kind of what I am getting with the "Little Mosque" show. In the end it isn't really about small town Saskatchewan or Muslim communities living within small town Saskatchewan. In the end what it comes down to is just Liberal Urbanite Canadians talking to Liberal Urbanite Canadians, with their political message being far more important to them than whether or not the situation portrayed reflects a real situation in the country accurately enough.

By the way, why does "The She Mayor" remind me so much of the mayor on South Park?

Anonymous said...

Fred Tupper is very smart.

He is right to be concerned when a foreign element comes into his community and tries to take over.

Look at what happened in Antelope, Oregon, USA during the 1980s.

Yeah, first it was all about tolerance and diversity and all of that. But pretty soon they took over, changed the name of the town and most of the original inhabitants were forced out.

Fred Tupper knows that Mercistan is a real possibility (or is it Merciabad). Especially with She Mayor in the the corner of the Muslims with the hope that she can count on them as a solid voting block for her. In the end though, when the Muslims do gain overwhelming numbers in the community, she might just find herself pushed aside as they are going to want one of their own as mayor. But then again, when it reaches that point She Mayor would probably convert to Islam though I believe the Muslims would see her conversion to Islam for what it is - a lame political ploy.