WHEN reality television show Malaysian Idol came under attack last year, Dr Wan Zawawi Ibrahim, a professor of social anthropology, was one of the few academics who came to its defence. He is optimistic of pop culture's positive effect on national integration and the creation of new identities among the young.
"Malaysian Idol is an example of pop culture which has created social spaces for youngsters of different ethnic groups to come together," says the 57-year old researcher. The notion of pop culture as a social binding tool is not new. It has proliferated in local films, music or theatre years before the Idol series was even conceptualised.
Wan Zawawi also wants more social spaces for youths to come together. "Malaysian Idol, the National Service programme, cybercafes and even designer coffee outlets like Starbucks and Coffee Bean are social spaces for youths of various ethnicities to interact with each other," he adds. >> les mer