Tyrant tack­les ‘stereo­typ­ing’

Arab Times - - NEWS / FEATURES -

LOS ANGELES, July 23, (RTRS): The FX drama “Tyrant” has drawn heat from some crit­ics for trad­ing in stereo­types about the Mid­dle East.

FX tried to prove other­wise at its panel for the show, about a doc­tor in Amer­ica who trav­els home to the Mideast for a fam­ily wed­ding and gets drawn into po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, Mon­day at the Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion. Showrun­ner Howard Gor­don was paired with a group of Arab and Arab-Amer­i­can rep­re­sen­ta­tives who’ve helped en­sure that “Tyrant” pre­sents pos­i­tive - or at least hon­est - por­tray­als of the Mid­dle East.

Ramy Yaa­coub, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the Tahrir In­sti­tute of Mid­dle East Pol­icy, ad­mit­ted that there was trep­i­da­tion when go­ing into the process of re­view­ing the pi­lot for in­ac­cu­ra­cies.

“We were very con­cerned, hon­estly, walk­ing into this ex­pe­ri­ence,” Yaa­coub re­called. Af­ter speak­ing with the mak­ers of the show, how­ever, Yaa­coub noted, “My ex­pe­ri­ence was it was much bet­ter than ex­pected there was some tweak­ing needed, there were some prob­lems with the show, but that doesn’t mean that the en­tirety of the show is off-bal­ance.”


Else­where dur­ing the panel, Salam Al-Maray­ati, pres­i­dent of the Mus­lim Pub­lic Af­fairs Coun­cil, said that “Tyrant” has an op­por­tu­nity to por­tray Mid­dle Eastern­ers in a pos­i­tive light by fo­cus­ing on the cit­i­zens who are strug­gling against tyranny.

“If this show that deals with tyranny, if it can hu­man­ize the people’s strug­gle with this tyrant, in the end the end it will be good,” AlMaray­ati said. “The story of deal­ing with tyranny has never been told. The prob­lem is, tyrants, the way we view them in Amer­ica is as a prod­uct of cul­ture and re­li­gion, but it’s be­yond that, it’s much deeper than that.”

Al-Maray­ati added that “Tyrant’s” plot­line of­fers a unique chance to por­tray “how people are go­ing to deal with that strug­gle, and how re­li­gion can play a a pos­i­tive role, how cul­ture can play a pos­i­tive role.”

The panel also ad­dressed one of the more con­tro­ver­sial mo­ments from the “Tyrant” pi­lot, when the tit­u­lar despot, Ja­mal Al Fay­eed, rapes his daugh­ter-in-law on her wed­ding night.

Ad­mit­ting that there was reser­va­tion about in­clud­ing the scene - “it was out and in and out and in over a num­ber of cuts” - Gor­don in­sisted that the sex­ual as­sault wasn’t used gra­tu­itously, and that it will lead to a greater pur­pose, along with ap­par­ent come­up­pance for Ja­mal.

“That trauma is not min­i­mized or dis­missed or used as an at­tempt to sen­sa­tion­al­ize a gross ac­tion,” Gor­don said. “Let’s just say the chick­ens come home to roost and that char­ac­ter is des­tiny.”

The su­per­hero “Tyrant” was cre­ated by Fabrizio Boc­cardi, CEO of King Mi­das World En­ter­tain­ment, with the in­ten­tion of launch­ing a fran­chise and cre­at­ing a global brand. “We have big plans for this property, which are ac­tively in de­vel­op­ment and oth­ers that we are pur­su­ing also with siz­able in­vest­ments and qual­i­fied part­ner­ships and li­cens­ing agree­ments,” Boc­cardi said in a state­ment.

The first chap­ter of Boc­cardi’s story was pub­lished in 2008’s “The Seven Sins: The Tyrant As­cend­ing.” It has been li­censed to DC Comics for comic book pub­li­ca­tion, is in ac­tive de­vel­op­ment for a fea­ture film, and has a li­cens­ing agree­ment with Beanstalk.

The 10-episode first sea­son of FX’s “Tyrant,” cre­ated by Gideon Raff and de­vel­oped for tele­vi­sion by Howard Gor­don and Craig Wright, pre­miered on June 24, 2014.


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