Crime shows and Islam: the modern and the medieval

Henderson, Lindsay (2013) Crime shows and Islam: the modern and the medieval. In: 4th Annual Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference(PopCAANZ 2013), 24-26 Jun 2013, Brisbane, Australia.

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The medieval appears on our small screens in many guises, some more subtle than others. One of the more subtle medievalisms is evident in the very modern US crime shows: Criminal Minds, Numbers, NCIS: LA, Bones and Castle. All five shows use modern technology and innovative methods to solve serious crimes, and across their seasons, have addressed the issue of terrorism. Typically, the detectives of the shows catch the terrorists and prevent another serious attack on American soil, but in the process, they opt for a depiction of Islam that is surprisingly similar to the medieval depiction of Islam and the Muslims. In this version, Islam is portrayed as a religion of fanatics, prone to holy war, and devoted to attacking Western civilisation in the form of the USA. This crusading approach is matched by the detectives' Christian or Judaic affiliations, and whose own violent actions are justified by the need to protect the innocent. As in the medieval Crusades, the target of the attack - substituting the USA for Europe - has done nothing to deserve such violent attentions. There are, however, some serious problems with the popular continuation of this medievalist approach to Islam, the foremost being the unbalanced depiction of a global and largely peaceful religion, particularly as practiced by Muslims resident in Western countries. Greater awareness of the ideology carried by medievalist Islam
in these crime shows is an important part of grasping how the modern West understands this Abrahamic religion.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author retains copyright.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2014 06:01
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 02:36
Uncontrolled Keywords: television; crime shows; Muslim religion; terrorists; manipulation
Fields of Research (2008): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200212 Screen and Media Culture
Fields of Research (2020): 50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5004 Religious studies > 500405 Religion, society and culture
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520599 Social and personality psychology not elsewhere classified
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470214 Screen and media culture
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society

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