The video: Tricking celebrities into making fools of themselves has long been a staple of American television, but a recent attempt to do the same in Iraq has taken a turn for the horrifying. A "Punk'd"-style show, broadcast on the Al Baghdadia network during Ramadan, placed fake bombs in Iraqi celebrities' cars, then secretly filmed them being "arrested" by real soldiers. The celebrity targets, including one of Iraq's top soccer players, often scream, cry and faint before they are told it is a televised prank. Iraqi newspapers have condemned the show for insensitivity, and demanded it be canceled.
The reaction: This "makes my stomach turn," says Thomas E. Ricks at Foreign Policy, though "maybe Iraqis are so sick of all this that somehow it becomes funny." For what it's worth, says Iraqi cultural critic Karim Wasfi, quoted by NPR, the show delivers a message in "support [of] the army," with many of the fooled celebrities lavishing praise on the soldiers for doing such a good job. Here's a CNN report on "Khali en Buca" (roughly translated: "Let's Steal It"):
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