Inside “Hometown Baghdad”

Having seen a few episodes myself, this is a look at what happens behind the scenes these days in WWW-based “reality” TV, from the LATimes: The Iraq war, MTV-stylepdf

It’s part documentary, part “The Real World — Baghdad.” Capitalizing on the personalized video craze popularized by Internet sites such as YouTube and MySpace, the Web-based series, called “Hometown Baghdad,” has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers worldwide since its March debut. It’s popular everywhere, that is, except Iraq, where the program remains largely unknown because of the scarcity of high-speed Internet.

Filmed by Iraqis in the capital, at the height of last summer’s sectarian clashes, and edited by Americans in New York, the program follows the lives of three young men as they cope with challenges ranging from daily power outages to the occasional discovery of bodies outside their doors.

[…] It’s a captivating if narrow slice of the Iraq conflict, spliced for the MTV generation. Hip, English-speaking stars provide a largely upper-middle-class viewpoint in sync with most Western viewers. They are Muslim, but none is particularly devout. They’re not among the anti-American militants, and none will ever be forced to take risky jobs with the Iraqi police or army, unlike their less fortunate and less educated peers.

That’s by design, say the show’s creators, who sifted through 50 audition tapes before settling on three young people they hoped would resonate with U.S. viewers. The show was aimed at Westerners, not Iraqis, the producers say.