Sunday, October 23, 2005

What are they going to call Santa's Little Helper? and other problems

No, this is not a joke (although the graphic -- via The Sun -- is). The Simpsons are being adapted to the Arabic market:

When an Arab satellite TV network, MBC, decided to introduce "The Simpsons" to the Middle East, they knew the family would have to make some fundamental lifestyle changes."Omar Shamshoon," as he is called on the show, looks like the same Homer Simpson, but he has given up beer and bacon, which are both against Islam, and he no longer hangs out at "seedy bars with bums and lowlifes." In
Arabia, Homer's beer is soda, and his hot dogs are barbequed Egyptian beef sausages. And the donut-shaped snacks he gobbles are the traditional Arab cookies called kahk. An Arabized "Simpsons" - called "Al Shamshoon" - made its debut in the Arab world earlier this month, in time for Ramadan, a time of high TV viewership. It uses the original "Simpsons" animation, but the voices are dubbed into Arabic and the scripts have been adapted to make the show more accessible, and acceptable, to Arab audiences.
The family remains, as the producers describe them, "dysfunctional." They still live in Springfield, and "Omar" is still lazy and works at the local nuclear power plant. Bart (now called "Badr") is constantly cheeky to his parents and teachers and is always in trouble.
On the plus side: Whatever we're being told, the Arab world is clearly still longing for / open to American culture. On the minus side: I can't imagine that a series which is essentially a riff on American life can be 'culturally amended' and still remain funny. But anyway, let's leave that aside for the moment. What I would like is an explanation of the following quote, which doesn't seem to read properly at the moment:
Hot dogs will become Egyptian beef sausages, and donuts will become popular Arab cookies called "kahk." Moe's Bar has been completely written out of "Al Shamshoon." With characters who are Jewish (like Krusty the Clown), Hindu (like Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu) and Christian (like the family's pastor, Rev. Lovejoy), Al Jean -- "The Simpsons" executive producer -- says those changes mean they aren't "The Simpsons" anymore.
"If he doesn't drink and eat bacon and generally act like a pig -- which I guess is also against Islam -- then it's not Homer," Jean said.
Is the period in the wrong place -- ie. should it be, 'Moe's Bar has been completely written out, with characters who are Jewish...'? Or does he mean, 'without' these characters? Ie. -- are the Jews, Hindus and Christian reverends being written out / amended? I really don't care about the other changes, which merely ruin the jokes, but if Fox -- whose permission must be necessary for such major changes to the scripts to go ahead -- has allowed the references to the characters' religions to be taken out or changed because they are deemed 'offensive' to Muslim audiences, they have a lot to answer for.
In the meanwhile, if all goes well on Al Shamshoon, MBC plans to launch other American cartoons in a similar format. Next up on Arab tv: South Park without the swearing. D'oh!

No comments: