From Kuwait's Margins to Tolaytila's Mainstream
Sheno Ya3ni Challenging Social Positioning through Dystopian Satire
Fatema Hubail, in her chapter, explores the case of the Kuwaiti group of comedians, Sheno Ya3ni or »so what« in colloquial Arabic, and the ways in which they engage the boundaries of their social positioning through the use of satire. By analyzing narratives and discourse used in each of the episodes, Hubail explains that most episodes position Tolaytila as a dystopian state-one with an image of serenity, peace, and freedom of speech, but a reality of social restrictions, gendered and cultural subjectivities, and an »all-seeing« state that monitors its citizens. This research explores how Sheno Ya3ni challenge their social positioning as Kuwaiti citizens specifically, and Khaleeji citizens more generally through their content. Through satire, Sheno Ya3ni create and control their own definitions and understandings of themselves as members of the Kuwaiti and larger khaleeji social fabric, and how they engage with these social realities in a public space. This paper argues that the use of the group's YouTube channel (and other social media platforms) as a discursive space that blurs the distinction between online/offline public spaces, making the fictional content represented on the group's channel a reflection of social realities (exaggerated as a means of critiquing these realities). This research relies heavily on discourse and narratives emerging through the comedians' engagement with aesthetics, space, and identity, as observed through their characterizations, narratives, and events taking place in the fictional land of Tolaytila. These categories are examined through the lens of Rancière's dissensus to deconstruct how the group perform offline resistance through online satire and fiction, and to what extent that resistance remains challenged and limited by the state authorities they belong to.