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December 5, 2020

Another fever

Islamabad

December 5, 2020

You may think that the title refers to the fever that has taken over our lives, but I want to talk about another fever. This fever may be termed as Netflix fever and\or Ertugrul fever; everywhere our awaam is getting excited about Ertugrul, and how it has become another factor leading to the Netflix boom in Pakistani society. Also, Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the increase of these streaming service and/or Ertugrul fever in Pakistan as people are killing time and easing their worries with them.

The streaming service, first started as an online DVD rental facility, and now it has become a global sensation with streaming, downloading services and producing original content like House of Cards, Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black that has received worldwide recognition.

In 2016, streaming service that offers a wide variety of award-winning TV shows, movies, anime, documentaries, and more on thousands of internet-connected devices-Netflix, launched in Pakistan with its wide range of shows of different languages ranging from Hindi, Urdu, Turkish, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Russian etc. They also offer variety of shows, movies, and series for people of all ages. However, there is Iflix too, which is much cheaper for Pakistani users, and its content is designed specifically to appeal Pakistani awaam, But Netflix is more popular. Why? Because whenever some fashion, accessory, gadget, or new way of doing something is introduced in Pakistan, it becomes a trend, and every person wants to become a part of it at any cost.

George Herbert might as well have said “Where there’s a will there’s a way” about Pakistani people as we have found new ways to be part of streaming service, without paying for it. Some poor Bhai Jan aur Behan Ji when “blinded by this fever” pays for streaming service, demonstrate the spirit of brotherhood integrated in our values by sharing his/her account and password with friends and family. In addition to this, not only has the streaming service culture been introduced to the older generations but the trend of binge-watching the series has taken over.

Additionally, another kind of fever i.e. Ertugrul Ghazi fever, has taken our people by a storm, this storm according to some will make us stronger, and according to others will ruin us. So, what is Ertugrul Ghazi? If you have the audacity to ask that question, chances are you are not a Pakistani. This show tells the true story of a historic figure named Ertugrul and his heroic acts to solidify the Turkish Muslims and fight off the enemies. With his friends and the lovely Halima by his side, he makes history and lays the foundation of Ottoman Empire in the shape of Osman his son. Some sources say that Ertugrul

Now, the two fevers merge, with people becoming too impatient with the slow airing of Ertugrul on state-run TV. Who even watched PTV before that? they should have pushed the entire thing out when they had viewership but instead, they forced people into the ever-loving arms of streaming service. The poor teenagers and young adults beg for some screen time with the way things are going, houses are going into shambles because parents are too busy watching the mighty Ertugrul swing his sword at Noyan’s hordes. And when people are done watching the adventures of Ertugrul, they move over to other shows on streaming service. Furthermore, some say Netflix and Ertugrul are serving as a soft power infiltrating the Pakistani culture. Right now, they are viewed as a temporary phase, people are raving for, but what are the long-term effects of this “fever” and how is it shaping and will continue to shape our culture?

Cultural identity is the identity of people belonging to a certain group sharing same cultural, religious, and socio-economic values, this cultural identity is very important to people as it gives a sense of belonging to people everywhere. This sense of belonging according to Maslow’s Hierarchy is what people look for, when their basic needs have been fulfilled and so it is crucial for a person to feel psychological security. Now, how many of you have felt the need to belong somewhere?

Ertugrul is giving a sense of belonging to many Pakistani people, by portraying relatable characters with same religious values. Some Pakistanis dub Ertugrul as “Our Muslim Hero” whose trauma strengthened him and made him strong enough to fight off the bad guys to protect his clan and family. Some women are inspired by the strong female character of Halima, who is fighting equally alongside men, and some see this drama as a beacon of hope that is going to reintroduce Islamization is our country.

When Ertugrul finishes people start watching series on the streaming service like Money Heist, 13 Reasons Why, House of Cards etc. They tell others about these series, and those people also watch these series on basis of trustworthy recommendations. What Ertugrul and streaming service might do is bring about a cultural revolution in our country, either shaping up our cultural identity giving us a pathway to societal progress or they might leave us feeling more confused, fumbling to grasp any identity we may find, in order to keep anew our sense of belonging, preventing us from feeling in simple terms an “existential crisis” which we may very well be already in.

The writer is a student at Fatima Jinnah Women University, doing her bachelors in Defence and Diplomatic Studies. She occasionally writes about socio-political issues of Pakistan