Chapter

Real-politics: Televised Talent Competitions and Democracy Promotion in the Middle East

Michael Frishkopf

in Music and Media in the Arab World

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9789774162930
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970139 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5743/cairo/9789774162930.003.0016
Real-politics: Televised Talent Competitions and Democracy Promotion in the Middle East

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The use of televised talent competitions to steer Iraqis away from the anti-American outlook of Arab satellite channels is not so surprising, at a moment when pop culture and politics intersect in a proliferation of similar programming all over the world. This is not a new idea, but a descendant of traditions like the intensely politicized Eurovision Song Contest and various reality television formats. The reality of any talent-show politics is defined by its multivalence, the fact that it is inscribed with layered meanings in many contexts. The current wave of talent contests was catalyzed by the colossal success of a particular franchise known as Idols. Other localized series and versions of the contest followed, and as of 2008, the Idols franchise claims more than forty versions from past to present. The worldwide reach of Idols and different talent shows underscores the continuing intertwining of global politics and translational industry.

Keywords: global politics; Idols; talent shows; talent competition; politics; pop culture; Middle East

Chapter.  6788 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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