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Cablegate: Birth of a Jordanian "Superstar" -- And Some

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 005339

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI PHUM SY JO
SUBJECT: BIRTH OF A JORDANIAN "SUPERSTAR" -- AND SOME
COMPARISONS OF "ELECTIONS"

Ref: AMMAN 5245

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) Diana Corazan, a young Jordanian singing sensation,
was declared the new "Superstar" of Lebanon's Future TV
August 18 after winning an Arab-world wide vote. Thousands
of Jordanians got on the internet or called in to vote for
their favorite daughter. After the announcement of
Corazan's victory, thousands of young Jordanians took to the
streets in celebration, honking horns, singing songs, and
snarling traffic for several hours. Some political
commentators in Amman see in the Lebanese satellite Future
TV "election" -- in which Corazan defeated a svelte Syrian
singer by 52 to 48 percent of the vote - a freer and fairer
election (or, at least, opinion poll) than is customary in
the region. END SUMMARY.

-----------------------------------
A STAR IS BORN, OR, RATHER, ELECTED
-----------------------------------

2. (U) While the Jordanian Parliament was in session
debating a vote of confidence in the new Cabinet and
temporary laws (ref), the Jordanian public was engaged in a
different kind of debate. Jordanians went to the (phone and
internet) polls on August 18 to vote for Diana Corazan, a
national singing sensation and participant in Lebanese
Future TV's "Superstar" competition.

3. (U) The "Superstar" show is a Pan-Arab television
talent program that has captivated audiences all over the
Arab world, overshadowed newspaper headlines about Iraq and
Palestine, and monopolized conversations everywhere.
Jordanians and the rest of the Arab world were glued to
Lebanon's Future TV satellite channel to watch 21 episodes
of "Superstar" (a rough equivalent of the UK program Pop
Idol or the U.S. Star Search). The program was so popular
in Jordan that the Islamic Action Front (IAF) warned that
the program "distracted citizens from national issues, and
was a corruption of the public taste, harming social
values." The IAF further alleged that the show was
"cultural imperialism imported from the U.S."

-------------------------------
A COLLECTIVE EFFORT FOR CORAZAN
-------------------------------

4. (U) Jordanians went to the phones and internet in great
numbers to vote for their candidate. Voters in the
"Superstar" competition paid out of their own pockets to get
their candidate to win. Companies and restaurants put out
large TV screens for people to watch their favorite
contestant and the country seemed united in a national
electoral effort. One Jordanian viewer commented "People
believe that their vote counts, and that they have a
responsibility to get their candidate to win. Without their
vote, Diana wouldn't have made it." In one day, 55,000
Jordanians spent nearly USD 750,000 on long distance phone
charges to vote for Corazan.

5. (U) One of the leading Industrial conglomerates gave
out free minutes on mobile phones for its 2000 workers to
vote for Diana. Ice-cream vendors gave one extra scoop for
anyone who voted for Diana. Everyone from all echelons of
society was rooting for Jordan's "Superstar" because they
felt she was a symbol of national pride and beauty. "I
voted for her because she has a beautiful voice and she is
one of us," commented one Jordanian, echoing the sentiments
of thousands of others. Other fans commented that Corazan
attracted them because of her "authenticity." "People voted
because they believed that she is good and is worth their
time and money," said one fan.

------------------------------------------
A NARROW MARGIN OF VICTORY IS EVEN SWEETER
------------------------------------------

6. (U) The result announced August 18 in favor of Diana
Corazan over her Syrian counterpart (Corazan received 52
percent of the votes to 48 percent for the Syrian candidate)
was received with much jubilation. People took to the
streets holding large posters, hung out of cars waving
Jordanian flags, and exchanged congratulations as if in a
communal wedding -- an unusual and uplifting sight, except
for the several-hour long traffic snarl that resulted. One
contact commented that the perceived openness of the
election and closeness of the victory made Corazan's (and
Jordan's) victory all the more satisfying. To many
Jordanians, Corazan's victory and resulting celebration
meant Jordan was alive and well despite the war in Iraq,
violence in the West Bank, and economic pressures. "It
takes so little to make people so happy, they just need to
let loose a bit," said one commentator. Of course, in
security conscious Jordan, police were stationed in large
numbers to prevent any damage or incidents caused by the jam-
packed roads and the throngs of people.

7. (U) While most Jordanians were patting themselves on
the back for having secured Corazan's win, others offered
alternate reasons for her victory. Some believe that
Lebanese Christians -- a large share of Future TV's audience
-- voted for Corazan in order to vote against the Syrian
candidate, goaded by the fact that the failing Lebanese semi-
finalist urged his supporters to vote for the Syrian. An
alternate theory holds that Saudi and Gulf viewers voted for
Corazan -- who sang more traditional songs and who is a bit
overweight - because she was the antithesis of the Syrian
candidate, who was modeled on the typical anorexic Lebanese
"pop tart."

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) While "Superstar" may have been just a TV show,
it demonstrates that Jordanians have a strong national
identity, and can organize behind a national cause when they
are inspired. The jubilant reaction to Corazan's victory
was a mix of that national pride and a release of nearly
three years of pent-up frustration over the al-Aqsa intifada
and the war in Iraq.

9. (SBU) The most frequent lament that we hear about
Corazan's victory is that Jordanian politics and elections
were not able to generate the same sense of national
involvement. Several press pundits commented wryly that it
took a Lebanese TV station to show the Arab world how to run
a (reasonably) transparent "election" (or, at least,
unscientific opinion poll) and inspire popular
participation.

10. (U) This cable was drafted by one of the FSNs in the
Political Section.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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