Saturday, June 20, 2009

Afghan Star

Marvelous story from Afghanistan on the evening news tonight. They have their version of our "American Idol" talent show called "Afghan Star." It is wildly popular over there and millions of people watch it on televisions that were banned a decade ago.

The news story showed lines of male contestants waiting to audition, and like the US version, showed judges wincing in pain at some particularly bad would-be crooner. There were female contestants as well, and one of them showed a lot of promise and kept making it through to the next round. At one televised performance, this young woman did something that shocked the country and left many viewers gasping in disbelief. What did she do?

She danced onstage!

And I'm not talking some wild Beyonce-esque booty-shaking. She just did a sprightly little two-step across the stage in time to her music.

This is something that is apparently so alien and unheard-of in the Islamic culture of Afghanistan that many people were thoroughly scandalized and shaken. Some male viewers reacted badly, saying that she should be stoned or even killed. There have been death threats made to her, and the video showed her tearfully reuniting with her mother and sisters, who were told that she had been killed.

All for dancing on television. This shows the amazing difference in cultures from this side of the world to the other. On this side we are treated to an astonishing flood of body parts and a lot of graphic rump-shaking, boobie-bouncing and hoochey-coocheying all in only several hours of television viewing on most any night of the week. On the other side of the world people freak out when a fully-clothed young woman does a joyful, exuberant dance as part of her performance.

To that brave young woman I say, you go, girl! Dance away, dance your little heart out. Joy is contagious, spread it around as much as you can. Maybe someday soon everyone in your country will be dancing to the music of freedom.

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