Let me guide you on a quick virtual tour through some Arab satellite TV channels tonight, while protests are escalating in Yemen, Libya and Bahrain and people being injured and even killed by army or thugs.
Let`s start from Libyan state TV. At the same time when videos like this one (“Protesters in Libya shot and killed by Gheddafi thugs”) are being circulated through social networks and many active Libyan tweeps like @ShababLibya are spreading real time news of protesters being killed, state TV was broadcasting patriotic folk songs in honour of the “leader” Gheddafi (malik al-muluk, “the king of the kings”). After the folk show was over, a mass demonstration was broadcast immediately. Not the same one we were informed about through Twitter or the Guardian or BBC though: a very different one, populated by Gheddafi`s pictures and overcrowded by supporters of the regime.
Using the power of my remote control, I`ve jumped to Yemen state TV. This was much more interesting and engaging than hearing folk patriotic songs! Yemen Tv was broadcasting a Japanese TV anime dubbed in classical Arabic. Not even Russian film director and theorist Ejzenstein could have been so clever to alternate this gentle Japanese TV manga with Al Jazeera Arabic`s images from the Yemeni capital Sana featuring one of the opposition leaders and showing huge anti-regime mass protests. I love Japanese TV cartoons, but I have to admit I was a bit shocked by the courage shown by the Yemeni broadcasters to calm down its viewers with a Japanese-classical Arabic dubbed TV “placebo “.
Finally I`ve jumped into the more realistic TV images of this night spent watching the incredible TV offer of more than 500 Arabic satellite channels. Saudi state TV was broadcasting Tash ma tash, the controversial Saudi musalsal which in the past has dealt with “hot potatoes” like religious diversity in the Kingdom, women`s and human rights, religious extremism.
Finally, a glimpse of reality-TV in this surreal performance of Arab TV channels during day #feb17 of “revolution”!