Wednesday, July 09, 2008

MBC Persia

None of the bloggers I normally follow seem to have written about this. the Saudi MBC Group has released a Persian-speaking movie channel, MBC Persia, it was officially launched today today, after being on the air for almost a week now, the aim of the channel is simple: I got the privilege to witness George Clooney and The Soggy Bottom Boys singing "Man With Constant Sorrow" with Farsi subtitles. MBC Persia is the latest addition to the MBC channels, which include regular MBC, (mostly Arab talk shows, serials and movies), MBC-2 (American movies), MBC-4 (American news, talk shows and TV shows, al-Arabiya (The Saudi answer to al-Jazeera) and the recent MBC-Action (focusing on American Action movies and TV shows).
To me, the launch of this channel is very puzzling, sure, everybody loves American movies, and they are shown in even the most US-hostile territories (in 2000, we had to listen to a lengthy criticism of the Sahaf variety about the moral degradation of American society before viewing a pirated copy of American Beauty on Baathist state television) but this is a very concentrated dose of something else. why, under any circumstances, would the fiercely anti-Shi'i Wahabi Saudis look at Iranians as a target audience? The launch of this channel renders the intents and purposes of their sister channels, and their group in general, into the too obvious category. I still remember the way they marketed US news programs and talk shows with the launch of MBC-4 as "See what they see," why, exactly, do we need to see that? They are all part of a not-so-subtle marketing campaign of American culture into hostile territory. Don't hold your breath for the soft-power propagadnda of Farsi-subtitled Saving Private Ryan, it's just around the corner.

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