American Idol has its haters for good reason, but according to Havana Marking's documentary Afghan Star, it's indirectly done a better job of exporting democracy to Afghanistan than any efforts of diplomacy or military force.

American Idol has its haters for good reason, but according to Havana Marking's documentary Afghan Star, it's indirectly done a better job of exporting democracy to Afghanistan than any efforts of diplomacy or military force.

The country's version of Idol has become the most popular show on TV, an entertainment form that was outlawed, like singing and dancing, for eight years under the Taliban.

As Marking follows four contestants, including two women who are threatened for participating, she explores the tribal divides within the country, and how open text-message voting has both eliminated factional divides and introduced viewers to the voting process and its empowerment.

Although a fuller sense of Afghanistan's newly re-emerging popular culture would be appreciated, this is a welcome peek into the country and its unexpected connection to our own.