Art has always been a way of expressing our emotions, ideas, feelings, our way of thinking and our state of being. From our deepest darkest fantasies to our day to day, mundane activities. Art has always been something that has a core value within any culture of any nation. This is why art is the best way of showing a narrative and building a strong view regarding any subject matter. Whether they be people, places, ideas or even a whole of society.
Western media has its long history of broadcasting its narrative on how they perceive other nations around the world. Nothing wrong in broadcasting your narrative to the world but it becomes problematic when that narrative is very one-sided. It becomes a problem when people start treating you differently because of the stereotypes that are being reproduced on a daily basis, even in TV series. Just as art can be used to salvage relationships between people, it can also be used to put up barriers amongst us as well.
Finding western TV content that has a balanced approach towards Muslims and their problems, desires and needs is often very hard. You either find people claiming to tell the Muslim narrative by basically dismantling everything that makes us Muslim, or we have a bunch of zealous minded, “I am right, you are wrong” type of people, being representative of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. This unbalanced and ludicrous approach towards presenting a narrative for the Muslims around the world has been damaging, to say the least. People think that we are either zealous individuals who cannot tolerate difference of opinion, or that we are the type of people who are internally ashamed of being part of a religion and the only force that will free us from the shackles of faith is our lord and savior the western zeitgeist.
In the midst of all of this, Norway comes out with a smashing web series called ‘Skam’ and introduces a story-line of a Muslim character in the most honest, raw and well-balanced way possible. Skam gives us Sana Bakkoush, a character that most of our Muslim youth, if not all, can relate to. She is a smart, opinionated, religious young woman whose interest includes, but is not limited to, science, hip-hop and basketball. From her well-articulated opinions to her journey of acknowledging her own shortcomings and becoming more accepting of others without ever feeling the need to throw away her faith under the bus, is the most refreshing thing to witness. Sana’s faith plays an important rule, not only in her story-line, but also in her personality development.
The series shows us her emotional distress of growing up in a society where her faith is looked down upon, her own biased attitude towards people who aren’t necessarily the norm within her religion and culture and how she changes her perspective. You cannot help but fall in love with the writing of this show. Sana’s own insecurities regarding her faith, her life, her parents and herself, is what makes her character a delight to watch, because these are things we all go through in life, but we either never find the courage to talk about them, or never find a kind ear to which we can let it all out to.
The reason all of us can relate to Sana’s character is because we all are like her in some way or another. We all have insecurities about ourselves, our choices, our faith and our own perception of the world. We all find ourselves cornered up by both our community and the other opposing party. We all find ourselves lost in a world where the narrative of clarity is echoed so much that we all end up believing that anything less than concrete black or white is unacceptable.
In the words of Sana Bakkoush; “If you hear anybody use religion to legitimize their hate, then don’t listen to them. Because hate doesn’t come from religion, it comes from fear”. Skam has made an impact so huge that other countries have made their versions of the Norwagien show. These countries include US, Italy , France, Germany, Spain and Denmark.
So if you are looking for a new show to binge watch I highly recommaned Skam!