Thursday, October 7, 7pm – Non-Fiction
Richard Poplak author of The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop Culture in the Muslim World ($15.95 Soft Skull Press)
What happens to our pop culture when it meets another culture head-on—especially one that, according to some, is completely at odds with our own? In The Sheikh’s Batmobile, pop culture commentator Richard Poplak sets out on an unusual two-year odyssey. His mission is to see what becomes of his and America’s obsessions—pop songs and sitcoms, Hollywood movies and shoot-’em-up video games, muscle cars and punk music—when they make their way into the Muslim world. Over the course of his journey, Poplak gets body-slammed by WWE fans in Afghanistan, hangs out with hip-hop artists in Palestine, headbangs to heavy metal in Cairo, discovers a world of extreme makeovers in Beirut, bowls with the chief of police in small-town Kazakhstan, and encounters a mysterious Texan who builds rocket-propelled Batmobiles for a clientele of sheikhs. With uproarious humor and keen cultural insight, Poplak asks some vital questions: How is American pop culture consumed and reinterpreted in the Islamic world? What does that say about how we are viewed by young Muslims? And can Homer Simpson bridge the divisions that are tearing our world apart?
Richard Poplak is the author of the acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa. He has written for, among others, The Walrus, This Magazine, Toronto Life, and The Globe and Mail and has directed numerous short films, music videos, and commercials. He lives in Toronto.