20 Mar 2014

'Ali In Amreeka' ABC's new cross-culture drama

ABC's (Arabian Broadcasting Corporation) 'Ali in Amreeka' is a high-stakes drama series about a nice Arab teenage boy, after tragedy befalls his parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by his extended family, who are American. Ali finds himself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, but is unable to reconcile himself with the excess and corruption of Western culture. Everyone around him appears to be threatening or trying to take advantage of Ali and his good nature. Now a virtual prisoner in his grandmother’s suburban house, Ali must count on his independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life in the decadent West.

Ali arrives in America as a smiling polite boy, not knowing what to expect in this strange new land. But he is quickly shocked by his experiences there as he tries to adapt to life among white people with their strange customs and decadent social norms. 

Ali is forced by his family and new friends to drink alcohol, which is normal in the West. Ali protests and says he prefer to stay in and read books, but his family and friends laugh cruelly and make him drink in bigger glasses. 

Ali is clearly not enjoying this, but the evil Westerners make him drink even more. 

In the morning, Ali isn't feeling well but as he tries to make himself a simple and nutritious meal his evil family and friends make him eat eggs and the flesh of swine. Ali's protests fall on deaf ears as the Westerners force him to participate in their immoral ways.
Later that day, Ali's friends take him to lunch. He is perplexed as to why Americans have to eat at a place where scantily-clad, large-breasted women serve food but he has too much respect for other cultures to say anything. But clearly Ali is not enjoying himself. 

Not content with forcing immoral lifestyle choices on Ali, his family force deeper into the path of greed and inequity when they make him attend weapons trade fairs and make him sell advanced weapons to oppressive regimes. Ali is deeply upset by these experiences but he is told that this is normal for people to do in the West. 

Ali's family persist in their evil plans and force Ali to meet one of their political chieftains. They attempt to push Ali into politics further corrupting his soul and alienating him from his true nature. They tell him that even an idiot can become president with the right connections. Ali finds this strange but he doesn't want to judge Western culture. 

Ali's evil family and friends push him into whirlwind of moral corruption and soul-sucking deprivation which is normal to them but alien to Ali. They force Ali to gamble and drink more alcohol, Ali is smiling on the outside but feeling very unhappy by the corrupt ways of Westerners. 

Ali's so-called friends are always thinking of ways to humiliate him, dragging him into the strange world of American sports and making him participate in bizarre rituals with which he feels very uncomfortable. But he keeps telling himself 'who am I to judge their culture?' 

Ali's devious entourage then push him into the stock market where he realizes how easy it is to make massive amounts of money. He protests saying this is immoral but his greedy family and friends are relentless and keep screaming 'trade, trade, make money'. Ali is uncomfortable but he understands that this is a central idea of Western culture which he's not entitled to denounce. 

The path of decadence and immorality starts to take its toll on Ali, who by now is experiencing deep existential angst as he looks for a way out. His family prevent him from going back home and insist on corrupting him further with their ways. Will Ali find a way out? 

Inspired by ABC's 'Alice in Arabia'. 

With huge thanks to Ryan J. Suto who agreed to star in 'Ali in Amreeka' and volunteered his images generously.  

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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