Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Belgium this week to extend the American peoples’ condolences to the citizens of Brussels, hit on Tuesday with a terrorist attack that killed nearly 100 people and wounded many more, and probably to help counter the problematic public relations the White House is facing after the American President was pictured tangoing in Argentina last night rather than attending to important things, like people getting blown up in Europe.
But, fear not, America and our allies, because the State Department has a plan. Announced yesterday, they are now offering a $1.5 million grant to anyone who can pen a television drama series that can counter radicalization in the Middle East.
“This grant will fund the development and broadcast of a television drama series in which young people grapple with everyday frustrations and lack of opportunity, while growing and learning through new experiences,” the offer said.
“The drama will be grounded in reality, but will also contain compelling creative content (i.e. storytelling, resonant narratives, strong characters, sophisticated production, etc.),” it added. “In short, it will strive to be entertaining while challenging viewers to engage in critical thinking by placing characters in situations where they are faced with a choice: support universal values of tolerance and peace or be drawn into the dark world of extremism.”
The grant explains that the show needs to be inspiring, and that the characters need to be relatable, so that potential jihadis, hanging around watching television dramas in their time between training on the Internet to build bombs, will be able to identify with the young people on screen and see them as “role models” for how to handle the deep and permeating sadness in their soul without strapping on a suicide vest. The grant is renewable, just in case people enjoy the show so much they want a second season.
Now, honestly, outreach-through-entertainment isn’t a horrible idea. After all, after a motorbike, a satellite dish is the most popular “disposable income” purchase even in the third world. And America produces a hell of a lot of television, mostly starring people with the last name “Kardashian,” that reinforces our status as the world’s Great Satan. But it might be too little too late to start drafting Shonda Rhimes into our national security efforts, now that plans are underway to incorporate thousands more refugees into western countries, after they’ve all been trained in the finer points of C-4 laced apparel-making.