The Angelina Jolie in Lebanon Effect

So Angelina Jolie was in Lebanon yesterday. She was here to check on the Syrian refugees in the country and she had some nice things to say about us as people. Some very nice things to say actually. Check that out here.

But some Lebanese didn’t have nice things to say about Jolie. Why? Because she wasn’t “jolie” enough when she came over. Why? Because she was wearing what she was wearing in the picture above. Why? Because they think she’s helping fuel stereotypes of women being oppressed in an Islamic country in Lebanon.

Because some people are just plain silly, yes that’s why.

I’ve written about an identity crisis (check here) that Lebanon suffers from and with each passing day, it becomes clearer. To many, Angelina Jolie doesn’t represent our culture. To many, she is helping disseminate the idea that we are a non-open, deeply conservative country. To many, what she did yesterday was unacceptable.

What those many are forgetting is the following:

  1. Angelina Jolie’s attire was more than respectable to the purpose of her visit, which is visiting the Syrian refugees in the country. Anything else would have been offensive to these refugees and an insult to their dismal living conditions.
  2. Angelina Jolie wasn’t in Lebanon to promote a movie or film one or to be a tourist. She was over here to do something that even our government isn’t doing.
  3. Some Lebanese are forgetting that Lebanon is not the party district of Beirut that they’re using to build this “culture” they’re talking about. Some Lebanese are forgetting that you will find women wearing what Jolie was wearing in other sides of the country, even in Beirut in the areas they don’t frequent.
  4. Some Lebanese are not realizing that these stereotypes they so desperately want to change will not disappear overnight, especially not when they have no problem in having a country that can fall into anarchy so frequently (click here) or when they oppose laws that the countries they want to be like have had for decades now (click here).

Yes, we are a deeply troubled people. We are so messed up in the head that a humanitarian visit has to be twisted into an issue of fashion. I think it’s high time some Lebanese people remain silent for a while – take things in, think about them before spitting them out. Perhaps then you can start working on those “troubling” stereotypes.


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