Author: Kirsten Pike

Abstract

This article explores the ways that Al Jazeera’s Jeem TV—an Arabic channel aimed at preteens in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)—increasingly relies on content from Disney to fill its schedule, while also adapting it to better reflect cultural norms and sensitivities in the Arab Gulf. Specifically, the essay examines how Jeem’s rewriting, re-editing and dubbing strategies are transforming the gendered meanings of Disney films and TV shows in both constructive and restrictive ways. While previous scholarship has shed crucial light on young peoples’ negotiations with Disney content (Lemish et al. 1998; Lemish and Reznik 2011; Wasko, Phillips and Meehan 2001), little is known about Middle Eastern Arab girls’ responses to original and censored versions of Disney media—which, in the latter case, are being redesigned for their benefit. Through close analysis of Jeem’s Disney offerings and research with Arab female college students in Doha, my analysis aims to fill this gap. In the process, it highlights Arab girls’ diverse (and sometimes resistant) negotiations with gendered contradictions in Jeem’s output—thus underscoring the challenges faced by children’s television producers in the region as they endeavor to balance local stories (and traditions) with popular global entertainment.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

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