A Reaction to the Reactions to Saher il-Lail
I’m probably inviting drama onto myself by saying this but, why in the world is everyone treating Saher il-Lail like a big, Iraq VS. Kuwait boxing match?
Look, I’ve watched the entire Saher il-Lail (Watan il-Nahar) series this Ramadan and I’m going to say this right off the bat: it was freaking phenomenal. Really, it was a work of great production value, promising writing, and included some very talented members among its cast. Sure, it had some technical slips (Oh my God! A PLASMA!), but, nitpicking aside, it was still a very worthy and admirable effort which was geared towards creating a real and positive change in the minds of its viewers.
And, from what I could figure, the change that Saher il-Lail was trying to accomplish was this: a sense of unity, pride, and respect for all those who have suffered the various forms of trauma and pain which the unjust and brutal Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had created in a countless number of souls who’s stories deserve to be reflected.
Saher il-Lail was not set out to demonize a whole nation or to make it okay for racists and bigots to start cropping up from under the ground. Anyone who uses Saher il-Lail as an excuse to fling insults and racist remarks against Iraqis or Kuwaitis or ANY nationality insults the noble effort behind which this television show was created. It’s not nationalism or pride, its freaking racism. And if you say its not, then you’ll be happy to know that you’ve just revealed your cards.
That said, I’m not belittling any of the war crimes which occurred upon the hands of the Iraqi military or the brutality that was used during the invasion. The reality is that, to whatever extent anyone would like to admit, the events that were portrayed in Saher il-Lail were inspired by similarly traumatizing experiences which real people went through during that horrible time. I’m not a historian nor was I really there at the time of the invasion (I was in Kuwait but I was one), but I know that not only is it useless to try and deny that certain atrocities really were committed, but that its also quite insulting to the history of Kuwait to do so.
Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis alike suffered greatly due to the ramifications of the unjust, aggressive, and, at times, murderous Iraqi invasion. This is simply a fact of history and there is no debating it.
But, let’s all get this straight: Saher il-Lail is not a documentary. Its a television show. A television show that had a lot of integrity, national respect, and honest work behind it. But still a television show.
That means that we need to take into consideration the fact that, like any network television show, stylistic drama is always involved. There needs to be a hook for audiences to attach themselves to so that they remain invested in the show for the entire month. In that respect, Saher il-Lail, like every other historic TV show to ever appear on television, is also concerned with purposefully creating empathy for certain characters and disdain for others. Every single television show under the sun is built with the same concept in mind. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, its the right way to make a successful and great TV show which is actually worth watching.
You’d think that this aspect of Saher il-Lail (that its not a documentary) would allow people to just enjoy it for what it is: a good television show that re-ignited a sense of unity and respect for national history.
Yet, for some insane reason, a whole lot of people are taking it as if it were a direct assault on all the Iraqi people or treating it like a piece of historical evidence. Serious news channels are having shouting debates about it; sending people out in the field to get counter-reactions from Iraqi people; and just basically taking everything that is beautiful out of it.
And now, all of a sudden, its just a big Iraq VS. Kuwait title match! I’ve seen nasty Youtube response videos, read hateful tweets, and just a whirlwind of racist backlash from BOTH sides and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why.
It’s a television show. For some people it brings back bitter memories. For others its interesting and new. And for a whole other group, its just not their cup of tea. It’s not a groundbreaking, historical documentation which can be used as some kind of legitimate argument ammo about current or past politics. You can’t cite Saher il-Lail in a freaking history essay thesis.
Its simply a television show written from the creative perspective of a Kuwaiti family during a time of war which was, undeniably, difficult and traumatizing.
If you like it, keep watching and enjoy it. If you don’t, just turn the freaking channel.
All my love! (P.S. Eid Mubarak everyone!)