A new reality TV show in the Middle East has a familiar set-up: Take a group of young adults, put them in an RV and film their every move as they drive across the United States.I gotta say it again. This just might work. Why? Because this is private enterprise speaking, not the United States government. These are real Arabs speaking, not Ahmed Chalabi sound-a-likes. Those are real Americans they are speaking with, not State Department bureaucrats. And that's a real satellite station they are using, not a government-run sound machine.
But producers threw out out the formula of partying, petty fighting and outrageous physical competitions and instead focused on a loftier goal — trying to bridge the cultural gap between Arabs and Americans.
"On the Road in America" debuted earlier this year on the Saudi Arabian-owned satellite channel MBC. It follows four young Arabs — three men and a woman — as they travel from Washington, D.C., to California to discover the "real" America.
Layalina founder Richard Fairbanks, a U.S. ambassador-at-large under President Reagan, said he hopes shows such as "On the Road in America" have something the U.S. government-financed programs do not — credibility.
"I thought the best way to do it was with the private sector and have it appear on media outlets in the region and appeal to people there," Fairbanks said. "I hoped we could produce programming ... that would have a positive impact on critical thinking and show a different view of the United States."
Maybe we can try to do the same thing, only filmed using Americans traveling through the Middle East and to be aired on American television. I know I'd sign up for that trip.
[Turn Signal: Ang]