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Music and Media in the Arab World$
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Michael Frishkopf

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162930

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162930.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.291) 15 Real-politics: Televised Talent Competitions and Democracy Promotion in the Middle East
Source:
Music and Media in the Arab World
Author(s):

Michael Frishkopf

Publisher:
American University in Cairo Press
DOI:10.5743/cairo/9789774162930.003.0016

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

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