Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finding a Pop Star in Afghanistan

Last night truly kicked off the competition for American Idol: Season 7, as the Top 12 took to the newly constructed set for the wildly popular (and this year very entertaining) singing competition. And yet, the real news today isn't last night's abysmal showing from front-runner, 17-year-old David Archuletta. No, it's the Reuters story on Afghan Star, the AI of Afghanistan.

Watched by millions and condemned by clerics, Afghan Star has caused quite the sandstorm. For the first time in three seasons, a woman is one of the top 3 finalists. Moreover, contestant Lima Sahar is a Pashtun, the ethnic group which forms the backbone of Taliban support. Plus, she is also from the southern city of Kandahar, the movement's main former stronghold. (I suppose my headline for this post could have been "The Al Qaeda Kelly Clarkson," but that just seemed in poor taste. In fact, it was "The Taliban Taylor Hicks," but I figured that's probably insensitive, too).

Further creating a Randy Jackson "Whoa, dawg!" controversy, apparently this Afghantasia (yay, puns!) can't carry a tune in a paper bag - leading people to wonder if there's some sort of conspiracy behind the voting. Voting appears to have followed ethnic lines with the finalists representing Afghanistan's three biggest ethnic groups; Sahar the majority Pashtuns, Rafi Nabzada the Tajiks of the north and Hamed Sakhizada, the Shi'ite Hazara minority.

So, I guess things aren't so dissimilar over in Afghanistan. We have Sanjaya. They have Sahar. We have Ryan Seacrest. They have a lot of hot air. We can't find Osama Bin Laden. They can't find a singing star. Wait a minute...

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