Jordan’s Pop Patriotism Defined

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.


  • What if all the money spent on posters of His Majesty and tons of flags on display was dedicated to feed the poor? Oh no, then we are not showcasing our ‘national pride’ and patriotism. Such heavy doses of pop patriotism are entertaining at times, but they’re really sad. When there are romantic lyrics put in songs for the King, you got to wonder: What ‘fake’ patriotism monster have people been feeding?

    You kindly noted that there is an attitude of ‘with us or against us’ and I really find it more worrying because different opinions can bring out considerable debates and solutions, but we still have ‘the very patriotic’ pack of wolves attack anything that ‘threatens’ their narrow definition whether online or offline, thus civil discussions are not very welcomed.

  • I wish it is nationalisim & patriotism but it is not, it is nativism to the core. Even if you employe the concept of either you are either with us or against us , it will not cut since one can never be with us unless one is a native. One needs & wants to be with the nativists but they refuse to admit one into their esoteric domain.

  • On Kharabeesh facebook page the video was criticized (mainly subjectively) heavily and some ppl even demanded moving the video beacause it provokes racism and “Fitna”. I didn’t see any of that! I just saw a brave and clear message exposing the reality with its ugly side and thats exactly what most ppl are afraid to discuss or even admit and face.

    Unfortunately our society -including a big part of the new generation- still resists creativity, boldness and objective criticism (mixed with soft sarcasm as in the case of this video). Instead prefering to live in denial and therefore in a comfort with Illusional red lines, distorted concepts of “respect”, “criticism” and “patriotism” …etc.

    A radical solution is simply an intellectual revoluation ! which is clearly impossible!! At least lets try to support such activities and defend freedom of speech..

  • You made my day.
    I always had that bad stomach in my feeling when met with such scenes of shoved-in-your-throat fake of the king given the name of patriosim. Its disturbing. Raise your hats for kharabeesh, 7ober and Naseem for addressing this issue!

  • kharabeesh have surly captured the things I always wanted to criticize, thanks a lot for posting the link I only got to know about it through you.

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