Ideologically Challenging Entertainment (ICE)

Dana Lori Chalmers

Abstract


Ideologically Challenging Entertainment (ICE) is entertainment that challenges ‘us vs. them’ ideologies associated with radicalization, violent conflict and terrorism. ICE presents multiple perspectives on a conflict through mainstream entertainment. This article introduces the theoretical underpinnings of ICE, the first ICE production and the audience responses to it. 

The first ICE production was Two Merchants: The Merchant of Venice adapted to challenge ideologies of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. A mixed-methods study of audience responses explored whether this production inspired audiences to shift their ideological views.  Each performance included two versions of the adaptation: a Jewish dominated society with an Arab Muslim minority, contrasted with an Arab Muslim dominated society and a Jewish minority. A mixed-methods study of audience responses explored whether this production inspired audiences to shift their ideological views to become more tolerant of differences away from ideological radicalization.   

Of audience members who did not initially agree with the premise of the production, 40% reconsidered their ideological views, indicating increased tolerance, greater awareness of and desire to change their own prejudices.  In addition, 86% of the audience expressed their intention to discuss the production with others, thereby encouraging critical engagement with, and broader dissemination of the message. These outcomes suggest that high quality entertainment – as defined by audience responses to it - can become a powerful tool in the struggle against radicalised ideologies.


Keywords


Ideologically Challenging Entertainment; The Arab-Israeli Conflict; Terrorism; Ideology; Radicalisation; Extremism; Two Merchants; Conflict; Genocide; Theatre

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References


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