real muslimah

Let's Talk About Sharia

So, one word that right-wing propaganda pushers like to throw around is “sharia.” They’ve pretty much painted this horrible idea in people’s heads that sharia law is all about killing and evil. To put it simply, it’s NOT. Sharia law says that we must follow the law of the land in which we live. So, for me, sharia law is the Constitution of the United States. If I drive 1 mph over the speed limit, I’ve sinned according to sharia law because I broke the law of the land in which I live. Sharia law also says that I must love and protect my Christian and Jewish neighbors and treat them as if they were my family. Sharia law says it’s a sin for me to go to sleep with a full stomach if my neighbor is hungry. Sharia law requires me to give charity. Sharia law says if I were to kill one person, it would be as if I have killed all of humanity. Sharia law forbids people from even so much as cutting down a tree in a time of war. How on Earth people throw around the words “sharia law” like it’s the scariest thing they’ve ever heard is beyond me. Hell, Sharia law protects non-Muslims and gives them more rights than it gives us.

The Problem with Climaxes: A Meta on Structure and Narrative.

so there we are. at the half-way point of the last season of SKAM. the last clip has resulted in some divisive opinions. i’m not gonna delve into them, but what i do want to discuss is how specifically this last clip shows us some troubles with the structure and narrative of this season in particular, and with a focus on how the climaxes are put in the story.

now, climaxes are moments a story when a certain plot reaches its highest point: it’s an intense moment where the action and tension becomes overwhelming and really changes the story. think of isak’s last moment in s3 ep 5: the tension of what even’s deal suddenly is comes to a heartbreaking climax. what this clip, imagine all the people living life in peace, and this season in particular shows us is that all the plot points, all the stories of the season thus far, needed to have their climax in this clip. it’s understandable, it’s the last clip for the break, so it needs to have some incentive for watchers to tune in after the break. but here’s the problem with having all the climaxes in one clip: SKAM relies on reality. it’s one of its biggest selling points: it feels real, bc the characters, relationships and stories that we see sound and feel real, especially if we include the social media aspect of it all. and let’s be totally honest here: it is highly improbable that SO many things go wrong in one evening. 

let’s look at all the plot points that have been risen during ep1-4:

- the russebuss/sara/vilde problem
- even’s mysterious past with sana’s brother and his friends (and how isak wants to know about it)
- noora’s problematic love life
- sana’s mother having trust issues
- sana’s love life with yousef

(also important is sana’s relationship with her religion, but that seems more of a theme underlying all these plots.)

so what do these plots have in common? all of these plots points had their climax in this particular clip; frankly all of them in a negative way to boot, except for the storyline with sana’s mother.not only that, the climaxes also were extremely rapid-fire after each other. vilde fucks over sana’s trust and goes behind her back; the boysquad and balloon squad fight each other; noora finds out about william and (suddenly) is seen kissing yousef. this all happens in a 10 minute clip.

personally, this reminded me of one of my less favourite scenes in s1: the christmas tree scene at the very end. in that scene, all the plots throughout the season had a small positive climax (eva hugging one person she had a problem with after the other, suddenly william shows up and apologises, eva closes off her storyline with isak, noora uses isak’s phone and finds some.. interesting sites..). which is all fine, but it all happened really quickly after each other. in one clip. and that makes it, at least for me, just less realistic. it’s clunky storytelling. having resolutions/climaxes so quickly after each other just doesn’t feel like real life, which SKAM purports to be. imagine that isak’s fifth episode ended not only with his heart broken, but also with his forced coming out, a big fight with his parents over his phone and sonja telling isak that “oh well he never loved you anyway, he’s bipolar”. that would just be too much. 

climaxes are fine, even needed, but as s3 has shown us: some climaxes should take longer or shorter, and they don’t all need to happen in the same clip for it to cause development in character or story. because another problem of having all the climaxes for this story in this clip is that the stories do not get in depth development before the climax are reached, which is why – for example – the storyline with the russebuss felt so.. long and a bit boring. there could never be a real resolution bc then the climax in this clip wouldn’t work as well.

and because this is feeling unrealistic, it’s doing a disservice to the real lives of poc muslimahs. it’s as if everything is heaped onto sana at the same moment, without her being able to do anything about it bc the story doesn’t allow her to. it’s, to be quite honest, frustrating. and i hope this structure in the narrative gets resolved more spread out rather than all, like in s1, in the same clip or episode. i guess we’ll see in the back half of the season.