When Haifa Wehbe Went To The SMAs

I watch Lebanese award shows occasionally when they air on some television channel. I laugh at the amount of plastic in them, the people kissing up to each other only because social class dictates as such, the winners who are so shocked it’s obviously fake, etc…. The thing about those Lebanese award shows is that no one is taken aback and starstruck by some megastar, effectively making the entire show about that person. I never thought I’d attend a Lebanese award show, let alone be nominated in one. But the Social Media Awards were a Lebanese award show by excellence.

The worst part about the SMAs wasn’t performers such as Poly singing to empty chairs or as a friend said having a “Paris Hilton winning best neurosurgeon award” with Lebanese Memes beating out Donner Sang Compter in a category for NGOs, something I had predicted 11 days ago (link) or how Anis Tabet’s blog somehow lost. The worst part wasn’t the fact that trying to get food at the food court could have resulted in some form of asphyxia because of how many people were there. It wasn’t the dress code that was resoundingly disassociated with social media.

Haifa Wehbe came around 10:30. No pun. She was obviously three hours late because someone as busy as her cannot mingle with the commoners who had been sitting there for three hours prior listening to one category after the other and who are not used to flashy award shows. She came to accept the award she hadn’t won yet for best celebrity on social media.

So in case it wasn’t obvious she was going to win, you should have taken a hint. Elissa was definitely rolling in her bed at that point. It wasn’t as if Haifa Wehbe winning wasn’t expected. But she sure knows how to make an entrance. The entire award ceremony was stopped so she can have her photoshoot and her poses and people scrambling to take pictures with her. Even the category being announced at that moment was put on hold for her. How respectful is that to the winner? Well, what do I know I guess.

Many minutes later, someone came back to their senses. And because Haifa is a very busy woman who doesn’t have time to wait for the rest of the categories in the evening’s planned proceedings, her category was brought forward. And surprise surprise! She won. She went on stage and accepted her prize. Was it deserved? I don’t follow her but “Twitter is my bodyguard,” she said in a speech that she wanted to say in “Arabic.”

And the same mania repeated itself, this time ten times over. The cameras, the flashing lights, the poses, the air kisses. Again, who cares about the other categories of the people who were waiting almost four hours for their turn to come up? Those people – like yours truly – are obviously irrelevant.

I wasn’t sure at that point if I was attending the Social Media Awards or the Haifa Wehbe Show. The award show that was supposed to be about 200 nominees, most of which had worked really hard  for a year to get nominated, became about this woman’s ability to make men drool and preteens go gaga. And they love it.

Note to self: must visit Nader Saab to improve my assets in preparation for next year. The Elie Fares show sure has a nice ring to it.

Haifa Wehbe showing up put things into perspective. The SMAs weren’t about really honoring the year’s best blog with those 50 people in the room at the time of the announcement. It wasn’t about the irrelevant categories sprinkled here and there to which we campaigned and had fun doing so even if we knew we weren’t going win. It was about getting the flashiest result possible. A few days from now, few will remember who won what. But they’ll only remember that Haifa Wehbe attended. Everyone & everything else is simply besides the main point.

Note 2.0:

Thank you to every single one of you people who took the time to vote for A Separate State of Mind. You people are beyond brilliantly awesome. 

Thoughts on Beirut’s Social Media Awards

Before the award ceremony is held next week and this gets considered as a post by one of those bad sports who didn’t like not winning, I figured I’d pitch in on the current “it” thing on Lebanon’s social media scene.

First things first, I believe I have to commend the organizers for their work. They’ve been withstanding the barrage of not-constructive negativity well and devoting their time for this – free of charge.

Now, since I cannot, for the life of me, be absolutely gushing about anything, I feel like I have to give a few remarks which I hope are taken into consideration for the awards’ next iteration:

The nominations:

The nomination process was all over the place. I personally didn’t nominate myself nor anyone else for that matter. But I believe that, since databases in all of the awards’ major categories are present, perhaps it would have been better if the judging panel relied on those and narrowed down the nominees instead. Moreover, does the fact that someone randomly nominated a blog or an institution to a category mean the nominee is particularly representative of said-category?

As an example: is the most engaging tweep category truly representative of Lebanon’s most engaging tweeps? Doesn’t it lack some names such as @TawaNicolas, @MarkInHd, @TKHaddad or @Shadonium?

The categories:

Some of the categories are either too broad or too ambiguous. For instance, my blog is nominated for “best news blog” along with several others, one being Naharnet which later pulled out of the competition to allow bloggers to compete among themselves. I personally think Naharnet should be the only one in this category because they are the only one really providing news. But they’re not a blog. And I don’t think we are really providing “news.” So which is it?

Another example that comes to mind is the best NGO/community category which has Lebanese Memes campaigning against several NGOs such as Donner Sang Compter and Foodblessed. Is it really fair for NGOs who are actively trying to save lives or change the way people think to compete with one of Lebanon’s most popular Facebook pages?

In a recent interview, Aline Chirinian – a member of the Online Collaborative running the awards – said that the NGO/Community category is the most voted on particularly because of Lebanese Memes. I personally find it nonsensical for them to win just because the category was made to include them. And Lebanese Memes are obviously winning.

The Formula:

The 50% judges/50% voting formula is fair. But it would have been better if we didn’t know how nominees stood among the judges. When the voting began, SMABeirut’s twitter account tweeted that nominees were listed in the descending order of judges’ points. If those that are not listed first were to have any “decent” shot at winning, they’d have to get a huge number of votes and I’m not sure how feasible that is with the judges re-voting on the categories later on. Revealing how the judges voted very early in the competition takes away from the competitive spirit.

I’ll take my case as an example. I’m fifth in the blog of the year category and last in the best news category. I’m not optimistic to the point of foolishness about my prospects and it’s more than okay. I’m having fun with the campaign more than anything else. After all, how many times does the Pope endorse someone? However, it would have been more interesting for me if I didn’t know that the judges prefer four other blogs over mine as the year’s best blogs.

Potential Winner Bias:

When members of the jury were announced, it was also made public that those members won’t be in for the running for any potential award. This affected Lebanese politician Nicolas Sehanoui who is, without a doubt, Lebanon’s most active politician on Twitter. However, as I was voting, I couldn’t help but notice that other categories also had some bias to some candidates which are involved in the organization of the Social Media Awards. As an example: Phoenicia Hotel is hosting the award ceremony and they are up for an award – conveniently first in their category as well. Another example: Alfa is both a sponsor and up for several categories.

Judging Panel Bias:

A question that can’t but be asked about the judging panel is the following: can they leave their own personal preference aside and judge a medium in which they are personally interacting with most of the nominated candidates and are on better terms with some than others?

Final Thoughts:

I applaud you if you’re still reading till this point. Many have been telling me how these awards may not be very useful and that their purpose is misguided, spamming timelines in the process. Well, I think this whole thing is just for fun and better have our timelines spammed with this than with posts about the weather, no?

And in case you still haven’t voted for this blog (what are you waiting for, seriously?), please do.

Vote For “A Separate State of Mind!”

Overwhelming success! Celebrity endorsements! Awesome blog! You don’t believe me? Well, check these out:

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Well, not quite. The above tweets are not real. But they could have been. Am I right?

Ok, I’ll take my antipsychotic pill now.

Anyway, this blog is nominated for “Blog of the Year” and “Best News Blog” – I know, I know – at Beirut’s Social Media Awards. I’d appreciate your support.

  1. Go to www.smabeirut.com
  2. Log in with either your Facebook or Twitter account
  3. Vote for “Separate State of Mind” in the first two categories. You can only vote once so be careful to choose right! Voting happens by clicking on the “vote” button next to my blog’s picture (that of a brain).
  4. Tell your friends.
  5. Come back here to receive your cyber hug.

This is how your screen turns once you’re successful:

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Thank you awesome readers!