Sunday, April 30, 2006

Reality Bites

A Children's Cartoon From the Middle East Has a New Mideast Peace Plan

From the article-

But the real goal of "Ben and Izzy" is more serious: to help young Americans and Arabs steer clear of the prejudices of their parents and grandparents, which may have been reinforced by the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Iraq. In promotional materials, Ben the American is described as "a symbol for his country" who is "big" and "energetic," but "on the negative side, he is a bit xenophobic, self-centered, needs-to-win competitive."

"Like his native land," the creators write, "he sometimes blunders into situations without thinking."

Izzy the Jordanian, by contrast, is "slight of build, sinewy and studious," but "on the downside, Izzy can be a little too serious, self-righteous, superior, even devious."

The boys don't like each other at first, they argue but don't fight with guns or knives, the promotional materials point out, but they will ultimately learn "that as a team, they can outsmart almost anyone."

While I'm not convinced that this cartoon from the Middle East can really claim a new Mideast peace plan (the plan of burying heads in sand is pretty common, after all), I can understand why it's not more realistic. Asking why it's not more realistic would be like yelling "Why are you going out there?! Everyone knows what happens when you go out!" when the third in a group of five ventures out to see what happened to the first and second who ventured out into the foggy night while watching a horror flick. Like the cartoon in question, they have to follow a certain plot or there will be no movie. In reality, Izzy would strap bombs to his body shortly after Ben stopped walking on eggshells or forgot that the price for being oneself (and daring to actually believe in individual freedom) in less civilized parts of the world, is death.

I mean, imagine a realistic episode. It would be all over in ten minutes or less.

Izzy tells Ben that his mother is a whore who deserves to be buried to her neck and stoned to death because she doesn't cover her head, ventures into public without a male chaperone, and wears those risqué calf and ankle revealing capri pants and dare I say blue jeans (gasp). Ben explains to Izzy that his mother behaves in a manner comparable to many American women, which inspires Izzy to verbally damn the entire Western civilization, which inspires Ben to yell "Bring it on!". Somewhere between his fear of seeing Middle Eastern women catching American capri wearing cooties and his anger over the exchange, Izzy finds his slim form laden with explosives. Ben has calmed himself but only by deciding to just stay away from all those of such uncivilized cultures who aren't happy with merely liiving their own lives but also seek to try to change the way everyone else lives theirs. The bomb laden Izzy soon pulls Ben from his isolation though, so Ben decides to blow the hell out of Izzy before Izzy blows the hell out of a bunch of little girls in blue jeans.

Hooray Ben! The show's over, folks.

The very basis of the cartoon is about attempting to improve personal relations and those issues cannot possibly be touched upon in a realistic manner so they just have to make stuff up to deal with instead. I think most Americans don't really care how those in the Middle East choose to live as long as they are left alone to live their own lives as they see fit, free from threat. Most not only don't care but couldn't have even found them on a map until after the horror of Sept. 11th. The very basis of this cartoon ignores the important fact that this struggle between the Middle East and the West is more about barbarian behavior and beliefs versus modern and civilized behavior and beliefs. Seriously, I wouldn't expect a cartoon for children to contain this type of reality but one wonders why they bother with the cartoon at all. If the cartoon is not for pure entertainment and only deals with fake issues, what's the point?

Besides, I'm rather fond of Ben (America), just the way he is.

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