Let's start with this, I am not Jordanian nor am I in the loop on how life goes on in the country or its capital, Amman. But I can say this: the majority of Arabs suffer from double-standard-syndrome — so much that they've swerved into a world of their own, leaving behind real life in the 21st century.
This isn't (all) about progress, globalization, and the undeniably strong western influence, this is about living in denial while preaching "Arab values" to other Arabs. If these same people were chosen to be PR (public relations) representatives of the region to the West, they'd simply do a horrible job.
Jinn, Netflix's first original Arabic series, was highly anticipated among Arabs. Then it was released on June 13 and oh lord did hell break loose; so loose we can't see the difference with its gates being closed ... we're that used to the living hell here.
From slut-shaming beautiful Salma Malhas (who plays Mira) over a couple of kissing scenes, to denying the frequency of young people's - Muslims or not - swearing and drinking habits, Arabs were quick to pass judgments.
People, humans, Arabs, anyone who would like to listen, Jinn isn't being broadcast on an Islamic channel nor was it exclusively created for the region. Conservatives in other countries riot against "inappropriate" scenes and dialogues, sure, but conservative Arabs love their shows because "this is how they live in the West."
We've binged Breaking Bad as the world hailed it as the "best series," but did we "astaghfirullah" the idea of making/selling drugs and killing people?
What about Good Girls? The series is about a group of mothers who rob a supermarket and get involved in money laundering. It's a popular series with ratings over 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Do you see Americans lamenting online how it doesn't represent their values and traditions? (No, because there's nothing that doesn't exist in America.)
If a show is created for and by Arabs, it has to be "decent" ... so, as decent as domestic violence in Bab Al Hara and Al Hayba? If that's the kind of representation Arabs deem acceptable, then we don't want it.
Jinn isn't the property of our region and its people, Jinn is international. We fell in love with Game of Thrones and La Casa de Papel (and many other series on the realistic scale of entertainment that depict life in their countries of origins) ... so why can't we appreciate Jinn for what it's done?
The drama thriller follows a group of teenagers whose "lives are disrupted when a Jinn in the form of a teenage boy appears to them in the ancient city of Petra." Friendships and romantic relationships are put to the test after the students unintentionally welcomed the supernatural forces of the jinn into their lives.
The derailment, as Arabs are probably calling it, that took place in this series happened when teenage love was crowned with a kiss and when youngsters snuck alcohol behind their teacher's back. *runs around screaming blasphemy*
Being devoted to one's religion is one thing, but criticizing a show (a fictional one) because it does not adhere to those values is another. If that were the real issue, then why haven't Western shows (that promote sex, drugs, what have you) been called out the same way?
How did Jinn represent Jordanian youth and the long-lived supernatural tales of the creatures from which the series gets its name? From the perspective of foreigners who have never been to Jordan nor the region, Netflix's first original Arabic series has done a not-so-bad job.
Young Arabs know how to have fun and partake in the same activities as others. They party, drink, tease and bully each other, swear like there's no tomorrow, and fall in love (outside of marriage, yes).
To the viewers who've never heard of the tales of jinn - pre-Islam creatures that are undetectable by humans - the series comes across as fictionally informative. There are Bedouins, jinn, the historical site of Petra, sneak peeks of Amman, and so much more that is intriguing to non-Arabs.
The Jordanian series is available in 190 countries on the streaming platform and is rated for people who are over the age of 16. It's accompanied by subtitles in 20 languages and dubbing in seven, including French, Hindi, Portuguese, and English.
So for a second, step back and imagine you're French, not Arab, and are watching Jinn, would you be bothered by the "inappropriate scenes" and "strong language"? Wouldn't you be intrigued by the site of Petra and the stories of the creatures residing in it?
Arabs love to undermine works from the region; they're quick to judge and demand they be banned.
The cinematography, on the other hand, actually flaunts the high-quality work Netflix has us accustomed to with its other foreign series. Even though many online users have criticized the acting and the script - whether because it was filled with swear words or poorly developed - others were less harsh and accepted the first Arabic work by the streaming giant despite its flaws.
The same infamous purple hue that indicates a wild party is taking place is present in Jinn just like it is in other series - one example could be Baby, an Italian Netflix original.
To make sure women empowerment is in the frame, Mira, one of the lead characters, is a DJ and sound engineer from the looks of it - a touch Netflix is fond of and is present in original series like Sense8.
Not to wander off typical high school dramas, the usual bullied kid - in Jinn he's called Yassin - is trying to get revenge from all the mean students who shoved him around and beat him. And in poor Yassin's case, even peed on him.
As for the soundtrack, many Arabic songs were slipped in casually; Mashrou' Leila, El Morabba3, Fatme Serhan, and Maryam Saleh & Zeid Hamdan are a sample of the artists featured in Jinn.
The same people who diss their region and try their best to emigrate are the ones who are defending their "Arab honor" now that a kissing scene under the name of Jordan has been released to the world.
What honor are we trying to save? Why do we constantly bother ourselves so damn much to wipe our image clean? Let's drop the PR work. The reputation Arabs have has been polished down to the ground; it's time to move on.
For the cast, from a "Westernized" Arab to you: You took part in a "first" and that will never be taken away from you, whether people like it or not. Let them criticize and let's see if they're up to anything other than angry tweets.