Eastenders and the troubled Muslim July 29, 2009Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media.
I’m not an Eastenders viewer, but lots of people have asked us to share some comment about the ongoing storyline involving Syed Masood, the engaged Muslim man who has a homosexual encounter with an openly gay man called Christian, and has tortured decisions to make over many subsequent episodes.
I tend to concur with those who have suggested the portrayal of this Asian family is unrealistic, and would add that it’s not the first time that homosexuality was used as an accompaniment to Muslim-ness, because the latter is obviously not enough. Maybe it’s better than making it about terrorism! I previously commented on Channel 4’s apparent obsession, as evidenced by Shariah TV. I also recall an episode of US drama Numb3rs in which the Muslim murder victim seemed to be a character providing a spotlight on Islamophobic violence, but it turned out he was killed by his secret boyfriend(!)
Allow me to share a couple of interesting comments from the MPACUK forum:
“lol, isnt this the same character who turned up out of nowhere and jumped into bed with local trollop janine without a moment’s notice? this character is supposed to be a good muslim man with firm religious conviction?
“asian/muslim characters get rewritten so quickly in uk soaps – the producers are always looking for angles to make them more of a minority whilst allowing them to discover that their backward culture/religion was the only thing holding them back from being part of the superior white/british cultural majority.”
“The father Masood is portrayed fairly well, like a normal family guy. The son Tanwar is typically adolescent and makes me laugh sometimes due to what he says. The mother seems to be playing the typical Jewish mother character stereotype, and is generally harmless.
“Coming to the gay storyline, i have to say that i found its subplots very predictable. They also seem intent on making it into a propaganda exercise, with which they want to make sure they convince the audience that Syed is being untrue to himself by not embracing homosexuality (note I don’t say his homosexuality). They’re also trying their best to show that Christian is not trying to tempt him, and that Elliot has tried his best to fight the temptation so as to not depict him as just being sex obsessed or perverted.
“The one good point in their favour is that they at least, up to now, haven’t tried to argue that it is acceptable within Islam. But if they didn’t want to tackle this issue, I wouldn’t have expected them to raise it at all, yet Christian told Syed that he should follow his heart and not the Quran. That’s not a typical Eastenders line, and therefore although it is being taken as a given that its unislamic to be gay at the moment, I suspect that this may change (possibly through the ‘wise’ father Masood giving his approval and encouragement).”
Once any Islam-twisting takes place, that’s when I will see an importance in analysing and responding to such content. So far it is mostly clichés about “being honest with yourself”. I would appreciate if readers could inform me of anything of that nature, as I don’t intend to comb over every episode from now on!
Syed himself expressed very noble sentiments when he said:
Look, I’m a good boy. I love my family, I go to prayers, I observe. I’m a good Muslim. I’m gonna make something of my life. … I’m gonna have a lovely wife and gorgeous kids. I’m gonna be somebody respected. And there isn’t room for anything else.
I say good luck to you, since the scriptwriters probably won’t let that happen…