“Saturday Night Live” is a satirical comedy show that has been airing in the U.S. for forty years. It’s cast has always been billed as the “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players”, since the show often takes its irreverent brand of humor to the limits of propriety. Like anything on TV, however, you can always turn it off if you don’t like it. But this time?
This past Saturday night, SNL showed a parody of a Toyota Camry commercial, in which a teary-eyed father drops his daughter off at the airport, just before she leaves to join the Army. In the SNL parody, however, the father drove his daughter to meet her ride to join ISIS. He tells her that she could stay another year and finish high school; but, she is quite excited to go. The Washington Post link is as follows: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2015/03/01/on-snl-50-shades-star-dakota-johnson-faces-the-awkwardness-of-being-dakota-johnson/.
When the young woman’s ride arrives, it is a white pick-up truck, with a large ISIS sign, and a truckload of black-clad Jihadists with machine guns. Just before the daughter leaves, she tells her father: “Don’t worry, dad, it’s just ISIS”.
The father watches as his daughter places her bag into the truck bed, he looks over at one of the bearded terrorists, and tells him to take care of his daughter. The man nods his head knowingly, and says: “Death to Americans!” And as the skit closes, the voice-over says: “ISIS. We’ll take it from here, dad.”
The “Islamic” State arose in response to a vacuum, which had evolved over time. The leaders in the Middle East–past and present–always seem to focus their attention mostly on retaining power and amassing great personal wealth, rather than addressing the needs of their people. Also, they seem to have never tried to settle the Sunni-Shia Divide, since perhaps it also serves their own purposes. Of course, there will always be opportunities for the rise of insurrectionist groups as long as outside nations, like the U.S, interfere in the natural political process–for the sole purpose of regime change.
Countries in the West are particularly concerned with the recruitment of their young men and women to join ISIS, since they may eventually return to their home countries in order to further spread terrorism and instability. That’s where the comparison to the parody advertisement of a young girl going off to see an adventure comes into play.
Do today’s young men and women really know what they are getting themselves into? Or, do they view joining ISIS–or any terrorist group–as merely a “Happening”? A Jihadist Woodstock, perhaps?
There have been numerous articles about the volunteers who have (mostly) flown to Turkey, to cross-over surreptitiously into Syria. Doesn’t that give them reason to pause, and second-guess actually attempting that journey? There have been a number of devout and non-devout young Muslims who have made the trip. But, there has also been a conglomeration of many others who mostly seem to be disaffected with their places in society back home and are, perhaps, just looking for a better life.
All nations, both within the Middle East and elsewhere, should focus on responding to the comprehensive range of needs of their people. Unless a country does, it is opening itself up to becoming an incubator for extremism, violence and potential rebellion.
NOTE: The initial response on some web sites was outrage, questioning how NBC could trivialize ISIS, and not show it as being a terrorist menace. More recently, however, the response seems to be suggesting that that SNL TV commercial parody might just have hurt ISIS more than any weapon. That is, of course, along with Twitter blocking its accounts.