Monday, May 10, 2010

Team Taliban: Pro Wrestling, Islam, & the Muslim "Bad Guy"

I'm happy to write today that my SECOND PIECE in the e-magazine Religion Dispatches has just been published. As with the first piece, I am not sure that I'm entirely happy with the editing, particularly several reworded sections and deletions, though I essentially think it represents most of what my draft submission included. The subject of the essay, Adeel Alam, also seems to have liked it, which I'm happy to see.

It is a review essay of an intriguing short documentary released late last year entitled Team Taliban ( about Adeel Alam, a 24-year-old Midwesterner who is both a practicing Muslim and a independent pro wrestler. He portrays a "Muslim/Middle Eastern" bad guy character, Prince Mustafa 'Ali ( and the documentary focuses on the politics of the pro wrestling business and Alam's internal debates about his portrayal of such a character. He comes across as very well spoken and introspective. The major downside of the documentary is that it is too short. It basically introduces a fascinating narrative, centered around Alam, and then it's over. He would be a good subject for a more substantial/lengthier documentary.


إبن الصقلي said...

A thought-provoking comment on my article from a friend in an e-mail:

"I have not seen the documentary yet but I don't quite understand why he continues to play to stereotypes as opposed to finding some other profession (or character). I do understand, albeit not entirely, the allure of professional wrestling in general, but for him to ponder on the harm his image is causing seems a case of wasted introspection. They should present at least some form of dilemma, where at the same time we know the individual's decision and understand his struggle. According to the synopsis, the dilemma consists of his "devout faith with a life-long passion for wrestling". That is definitely not enough for me. On another note, I do have a greater appreciation for professional wrestling after having looked through his blog."

إبن الصقلي said...

A comment from a professorial mentor, via an e-mail:

"What a dilemna this guy is in; your piece does him credit though, insofar as he can be given credit for feeling conflicted over something problematic like this."