I was asked last week why I didn’t address the “banana song” that everyone was talking about. My answer was simple: it was something I didn’t feel should be propagated. Any kind of publicity is publicity, and I wasn’t going to be yet another blog exposing it to more people, not that it needed my help in doing so. Blog clicks and views be damned.
Yesterday, MTV announced that the whole thing was a marketing ploy orchestrated in collaboration with Impact BBDO to highlight how easily Lebanese fall for such flashy headlines and brainless news content instead of pursuing “culture.”
Certainly, the cause behind the mortifying song is noble, and kudos to those behind it for managing something that got almost everyone talking, even if it were to bash or criticize or to share it among friends for finding it hilarious.
But having everyone talk about it doesn’t mean the purpose of the campaign was successful. The campaign’s goal, to boost culture among the Lebanese populace, feels empty and hollow. I mean, isn’t MTV one of the leading Lebanese TV stations promoting lack of culture and decadence?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about 14 pictures about the content that MTV has been advertising on its channels for the past 4 days?
I don’t know about you but news about selfies and skin products don’t qualify as propagating culture in my book.
MTV’s lack of “culture propagation” also extends to their shows: when has Adel Karam hosted an artist on his show that promotes culture? His most successful episode was with Haifa Wehbe.
What was MTV’s attempt at keeping you glued to your TV sets on a Saturday night? Maya Diab in barely-there clothing singing karaoke.
How did MTV try to sell Dancing With The Stars in its first season? By using May Hariri.
Of course, MTV isn’t alone in this practice of culture-lacking Lebanese media approach. Here are some screenshots thanks to LBCI, OTV and Al-Jadeed:
Isn’t it ironic that the same TV station wanting to fight decadence has been actively promoting it for months and years based on the rule that “الجمهور عايز كده?”
Do they even know that people massively clicking on a link isn’t indicative of its quality and that people tuning into a TV show doesn’t mean that said TV show is of decent quality?
Does MTV also think that the people who shared the video and who are targeted by the campaign would suddenly wake up and find themselves needing to pursue some Picasso instead of a Miss Lebanon selfie and some Beethoven instead of Haifa, especially that there’s absolutely no Lebanese TV stations that serves such a level of “culture” to begin with, in a country where such a thing isn’t remotely primed in the first place?
The Lebanese population is being actively dumbed down by TV stations who then come sweeping in with a marketing ploy to show us that we easily fall prey to gimmicks, while doing absolutely nothing about the problem in the first place. Don’t ridicule people with a silly “music” video when your TV station makes absolutely no effort at advocating for the campaign you’re supposedly championing.
If you want to fight decadence and promote culture, then do it, don’t preach it. Offer some culture to your viewers that isn’t gimmicky. Educate them. Give them news articles that would stimulate their minds, that don’t start with a “بالصور ” or ” بالفيديو ” headline.
Don’t expose the music of the highest bidder when there’s so much better pieces floating around the Lebanese scene but without the needed money to give them airtime. Don’t give acting roles to models when there are countless theatre students in the country who can’t make a living.
If you want to promote culture, don’t shy away from investigative journalism that could highlight and maybe change a lot of what’s happening in this country just because a politician owns shares in your establishment. How many issues has MTV and other Lebanese TV stations forcefully ignored because they’re not “catchy” enough, because they deem aren’t newsworthy enough, because they want to kill them upon arrival for a reason or another? How can you promote culture if you’re deciding what is cultural and what isn’t?
The simplest analogy to this whole issue that I can think of is the following: MTV promoting culture is akin to Al Manar promoting secularism or Tele Lumiere promoting atheism. In other words, it’s bullshit. In a week or so, when people get over bananas, MTV will go back to what it does best and it will all be “بالصور ” or ” بالفيديو .”