Thursday, September 22, 2011


Just watched a nice documentary, Afghan Star, about a television music-contest show akin to American Idol, designed to reintroduce popular music to Afghanistanis after their long dark ages under Taliban rule. It basically follows the attempt by four young singers to capture the hearts (and cell phone votes) of enough of their countrymen to garner nationwide fame and a sizable chunk of cash (no telling how valuable $5000 would be to them). The production is one step above amateurish and the quality of performances not what I am used to, but the singers all garner fervent support (often based along ethnic lines), and the show is a hit throughout the country and with just about everyone except religious fundamentalists. I must say that a few performers, especially the young woman who danced on stage during her farewell performance and incensed just about everyone, were extremely brave in challenging the restrictions they have encounter in recent times. Heck, even the fans who clamored for seats at the live performance struck me as brave, considering the possibility of terrorist attack. The documentary does remind viewers about the cultural blind spots in Afghanistan, but also reveals a diversity of viewpoints and a hope that the country can eventually, perhaps, join the rest of the world in enjoyment of the arts. I was shocked by just how dirty many people appeared. And I was surprised and delighted by the beauty of some of the buildings, especially the mosques, and how they stood out from the mud-colored towns and neighborhoods.

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