When I was about thirteen, the talk of the nation was about satanism. People used to go on televisions to tell us how these people desecrate the Holy Communion, have sex in graveyards and whatnot. And at thirteen, I believed all the stories. Education at school also geared us towards fearing such cults. They instilled fear in us. They warned us about the dangers of the music they use, which might infiltrate our minds with the subtle messages interspersed between their notes. So I never got into any form of metal music – because metal equaled satanism. And that’s what I was told.
Things today are very different, to me at least. I barely watch any Lebanese TV because I believe it’s absolutely pointless to do so and I fail to see any rewarding experience coming out of it, except to get me more exasperated at the state of decadence we’ve reached as a nation.
Joe Maalouf, MTV’s prodigy “journalist”, has found his name synonymous with controversy in recent months. It started with homophobic reporting about homosexuality. Some Lebanese responded. MTV responded back. The responses died. Joe Maalouf stayed… and he’s at it again.
In a November 6th episode, Maalouf went back to the same subject that was being discussed when I was thirteen, almost ten years years ago, to say how all metal bands are cult-worshippers, teaching our children and teenagers the arts of satanism. Here’s a link for the episode if you’re interested.
Absolutely stupid? You bet. But Joe Maalouf isn’t the only one. Every weekly episode of Malek Maktabi’s show: Ahmar bl Khatt el 3arid is a reminder that cheap journalism is popular journalism. Maktabi gets guests that are as taken out of society as you could get and imposes them upon his viewers as fact. His attitude as he presents one ridiculous topic after the other is that of a know-it-all who’s taking himself way too seriously.
The result of both Maalouf and Maktabi’s approaches, which are very similar, is a broad viewership that is taking in what they’re saying as scripture, which is even worse when you know that both TV shows are some of the most watched on their corresponding channels, data that I obtained from a TV private source a few weeks back. Yes, those metal bands are all satanist. Those people from Akkar are all demented. Those women who like to sing are all whores. And the list goes on and on.
The viewer is not to be blamed for the monstrosities committed against him. You can’t just say it’s the fault of the person who has nothing else to do than watch TV for believing what TV station is throwing at them. It’s the fault of TV stations and platforms that allow such content to be broadcast from their airways without vetting it.
No, I’m not talking about censorship. I’m talking about monitoring of quality. Maalouf & Maktabi should not be allowed to present absolutely ridiculous information as facts to viewers and be able to call upon equally unqualified “testimonies” in order to prove a moot point that is not valid in any way. They should not be allowed to tell viewers how “many more unspeakable things happen behind closed doors.” What closed doors are they taking about? What things are they referring to?
The sad thing is it’s not only Maalouf and Maktabi. Ignorant Lebanese journalism goes to political talk shows which rehash the same arguments at people over and over again, most of them unfounded, in the hope that one sticks. Ignorance is also in news reports, such as the HIV in Pepsi incidence recently, which people also believe because, I mean, how could the news be wrong? How could anything that makes it to TV, for that matter, be wrong?
I am not a journalist and I don’t intend to be one. But, as a viewer and possible audience of such TV shows, I know what I’m getting is ridiculous. I know that my TV stations should offer us something more mentally stimulating than the mental vomit they keep hurling at us with a lot of people taking it in. I know that what’s happening on our airwaves daily is not right. And I know that Malek Maktabi, Joe Maalouf and countless other self-proclaimed journalists are a bunch of ignorants whose words should never be taken to more than what they are: utter crap. Maalouf and Maktabi are a disgrace that graces our TV screens in a weekly manner to bestow upon us their eternally craptastic wisdom.
The problem is the collective of the Lebanese society thinks their crap is gold. They think Maalouf and Maktabi and others like them are absolutely right, every single time, and the cycle of willful ignorance of the Lebanese community continues because ignorance is truly bliss and dismissing entire demographics, entire discographies, entire mentalities because of the psychological complexes of a TV anchor is much easier than going on a limb to see that the presumed golden TV we get is crap at its best.