As an adjective, “pop” is typically defined as something that is sudden in nature; a phenomenon in a sense. It is often short-lived, but its transient shelf-life can last upwards of a decade (e.g. reality tv for instance). I’ve taken to using the term “pop patriotism” to help me personally define and understand the kind of patriotism that has erupted in Jordan over this past year. Patriotism and nationalism have always been around in Jordan, and have seeped in to our mainstream culture in various shapes or forms over the decades. From patriotic songs, to Jordan TV montages of people in fields (while patriotic songs play), to more nationalistic events like Independence Day, and more.
What has unfolded in the past year is quite different. It is the regular dose of patriotism, but on steroids. Primarily in response to the Arab awakening and its feared impact on the Kingdom, the kind of pop-patriotism that we’ve seen this past year is more along the lines of a “with us or against us” offense, than as an expression of love for country. In other words, it has become a weapon used to threaten and intimidate other citizens. The phenomenon is understandable, given that people who feel threatened themselves will always resort to safe ground, become increasingly xenophobic in nature, and feel the need to take on a warlike mentality towards those who disagree with them in opinion.
Pop-patriotism is difficult to put in words, and those who live in Jordan have likely experienced it one way or another. But I think the creative minds behind Kharabeesh have managed to articulate it quite well (with a healthy dose of comedy) in the above video. At the end of it, you kind of have to stop and say to yourself: wait, what happened? How did we get here?
Footnote: for those unfamiliar with it, Kharabeesh is a local creative company that is home to some of the most creative minds in the country. Much of their work commenting on the Arab awakening, specifically with animations, has gone viral throughout 2011 and helped put Jordan on the map when it comes to regional, original, creative production, in ways that multi-million dollar animation companies have not. They sit comfortably on my personal top-100-things-I-love-about-Jordan list.