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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Conclusion: Performing Politics, Taming Modernity


This book set out to understand why, how, and with what consequences the Arab reality TV battles mixed politics, religion, business, and sexuality, setting Arab public discourse ablaze in times of political crisis, military strife, and religious tension. As we come to the end of the story, it is useful to recall some of the big questions that animated this book. The pretense of reality TV to represent reality inspired the first question: What is the relation between reality TV and social reality? Many Arab journalists, we have seen, grappled with the answer, which goes to the heart of the social authority of the media; a couple of years into the Arab reality TV polemics and two months after al-Hariri's assassination, a columnist captured the situation as follows:

After reality TV programs occupied an important part of social “reality” during the last two years, reality TV's status has begun a decline, bowing to the shocks of the real “reality.” … Real reality won the gamble, outshining the program that had to leave the limelight for a time … which seems to have killed the notion of “real TV” [in English]…. As if these shows lost their luster, and their realism, and rushed towards the real reality whose realism they sought to appropriate…. Didn't Big Brother shake and stir Bahrain? … The realism of that show provoked the real reality and became part of social reality, and not the other way around. […]