What happens to our pop culture when it meets another culture head-on—especially one that according to some is completely at odds with our own?
In The Sheikh's Batmobile, pop-cultural commentator Richard Poplak sets out on an unusual two-year odyssey. His mission is to see what becomes of his, and North America's, obsessions—pop songs and sitcoms, Hollywood movies and shoot-em-up video games, muscle cars and punk music—when they make their way into the Muslim world.
Over the course of his journey, Poplak is body slammed by WWE fans in Afghanistan, hangs out with hip-hop artists in Palestine, head bangs to heavy metal in Cairo, discovers a world of extreme makeovers in Beirut, bowls with the chief of police in small-town Kazakhstan, and encounters a mysterious Texan building rocket-propelled batmobiles for a clientele of sheikhs.
With uproarious humour and keen cultural insight, Poplak asks some vital questions: How is American pop culture consumed and reinterpreted in the Islamic world? What does that say about how we are viewed by young Muslims? And can Homer Simpson bridge the differences that are tearing our world apart?
"A heroic feat of research, analysis, and on-the-ground reportage. ... It's a weird, wonderful world where ... pop is revered and high and low culture freely mingle. ... The Sheikh's Batmobile should shatter the Western stereotype of the Muslim world as repressive and stagnant."
—Jason McBride, Quill & Quire
"I would read Poplak if he wrote about watching paint dry. He is a gifted addition to the exploding and increasingly sloppy literary non-fiction genre. Dark, funny, self-deprecating and poetic, Poplak is a punk Graham Greene. … [He has] complete authority as an outsider absorbing American culture."
— Mary-Lou Zeitoun, Globe and Mail