The television documentary program, 30 Days by Morgan Spurlock, who became popular with his documentary Super Size Me, presented Muslims and America as part of its first season. The premise of the episode is to have David Stacy, a 33-year-old Christian from West Virginia who has expressed negative opinions about Muslims to live as one for thirty days. At the end of Stacy’s 30 day stay in the largely Muslim community of Dearborn, Michigan, he expressed that many of his negative notions and prejudices about Muslims and Islam were unfounded and the desire to continue the friendships he made during the experiment.
The premise of the Muslims and America is not unique. The idea of religious intolerance has sparked significant debate over the years and has been cited as one of the main reasons for terrorism and discrimination. The documentary aims to expose that many of the reservations that one develops about other people comes from the lack of exposure or interaction. There has been some critique to the authenticity of the documentary, citing that the time frame of the show and the activities Stacy underwent were predetermined and controlled (Schlussel). However, the episode has received significant positive response not only from the Muslim community but other religious and social factions as well (30 Days: Muslims and America).
As much as the video encourages the need for cultural and religious communication, there should be caution in doing so. It is not enough that one is willing to learn and experience Muslim traditions there should also be genuine acceptance of differences beyond classifying them as cultural and religious idiosyncrasies. As seen in the movie, the assumptions that people have for Muslim is not just in who they are but also who they are not and even more importantly, in what they think of Christians. It should be noted that the episode recognizes these constraints and does not aim to generalize the relationships between Muslims and Christians. That it is these generalizations that need to be evaluated to promote better understanding between and within these communities.
30 Days: Muslims and America. TV.com. October 23, 2007, Available from http://www.tv.com/30-days/muslims-and-america/episode/436036/summary.html
Doggart, Sebastian. Muslims and America. 30 Days, Season 1, Epsiode 103. Original airing on June 29, 2005. FX Network.
Schlussel, Debbie. Unreal for 30 Days: A “documentary” on Islam tells a preconceived story. Wallstreet Opinion Journal. June 24, 2005. October 23, 2007, Available from http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110006868