Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Syria’s pain is absent from its screens | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad are seen in Ain-Assan village during what they said was an operation to occupy it, in southern countryside of Aleppo, June 15, 2013. REUTERS/George Ourfalian

In only the first two weeks of Ramadan, more than two thousand Syrians fell, some as victims of bombardment and others in massacres or during fighting.

It is the same tragedy that the Syrian people have been drowning in for nearly two and a half years, but Syria’s agony is no longer an significant happening nor a figure nor an image. This adds to the frustration of the Syrian people and increases their sense of disengagement towards their ordeal and lack of interest. Now, the month of Ramadan television dramas have come to ignite Arab public opinion and give the Syrian people another reason for bewilderment and confusion.

These dramas have brought the Syrian reality back to the spotlight. This includes outlets funded directly by the regime and clearly reflecting its point of view. It also includes work funded by the private sector with reflects professional acting and production that does not take a clear position, which is also indirectly in the interests of the regime.

In the series Sana’oud Ba’ad Kaleel (“We Will Return Shortly”), there is no revolution in Syria and the events that occur are only a backdrop for the stories of the main characters. The script identifies the situation in Syria, via the pro-regime actor Duraid Lahham, as a “crisis” with a focus on nostalgia, longing, and grief towards the nation.

In some Syrian areas under the regime, public cafes are prohibited from displaying the series Al-Wilada min Al-Khasira (“Birth from the Flank”). It is considered the most daring and controversial in depicting the Syrian reality, and entails a big mystery that will only be resolved in the last episode, though it is gradually becoming clearer with every episode.

Though the production addresses issues related to abuse, suppression, security, detention, torture, and intelligence, a list of issues the Syrian people have experienced, the program received official authorization from the Syrian authorities and most of its employees are publicly loyal to the regime. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the revolution is portrayed as evil, thereby considering the regime with all its mistakes the best for the Syrian people.

In fact, social networking websites have displayed the puzzlement and divided opinion of viewers about the Syrian dramas this year, which have diverged from the way they used to be. But which is more grave: the real drama experienced by the Syrians or the drama they escape to within these series?

There is no doubt that the television programs funded by the regime are seeking to subtly tamper with the mood of the audience, a method the regime has proficiently used in the past ten years. In this sense, there are “pro-regime dramas,” and the opposition haven’t produced a drama of their own.

The ability to influence though drama is a weapon of the regime only. Paradoxically, though the regime has managed to infiltrate Syrian screens, the opposition’s actors and stars are absent from this competition.

This will have an impact on public opinion against the cause of the opposition, supported by screens that displayed the revolution and its victims in a way that supports the culprit.

Once again, the regime succeeds in infiltrating the public via the loose realm of drama.