The Lebanese Victims of Istanbul’s Terrorist Attacks & Lebanese TV Stations’ Disgusting Unprofessionalism

 

I debated whether to write about this issue or not for the better part of the last few hours, but the response by Lebanese media to the Istanbul attacks, especially with regards to the Lebanese who fell victim to them, is disgusting and horrifying and should not be accepted any day longer or repeated in any way in any coverage in 2017.

In a terrorist attack on a night club in Istanbul, an abomination of a human being dressed as Santa opened fire and killed 39 people, injuring more than 60 others. Of those 100 people, around 13 are Lebanese as per initial estimates. Of those Lebanese, three have been confirmed to have passed away so far: Elias Wardini, Rita Chami and Haykal Moussallem.

Lebanon’s three victims were visiting Istanbul, like many Lebanese, thinking it was a safe place for them ring in the new year. They were there with friends, loved ones, hoping for the last moments of 2016 and the first of 2017 to bring them the happiness they were seeking out on that dance-floor.

Elias and Rita were enjoying the Istanbul snow together only hours before tragedy struck.

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It’s heartbreaking how uncertain and fickle our existence as people and as Lebanese is.

Fewer things are as tragic as this: to fall victim to acts of terror, to have your death be analyzed a hundred thousand times fold, to be called a “martyr” in an attempt to normalize the horror to which Elias, Rita and Haykal were victims, and since this is Lebanon, to have your death become a national circus for your country’s media to bring in as many viewers and ad money as they possibly could.

Elias was a personal trainer. He was engaged, to be married. He was 26.

Rita was one of my close friend’s best friends. Her mother, who also happens to be her best friend had recently passed away after a tough battle with cancer. Rita had left her studies in Radio and TV to be by her mother’s side.

Haykal Moussallem was a married man, and a physical fitness trainer for many of Lebanon’s basketball teams. He was currently Tadamon’s trainer.

Elias Wardini, Rita Chami and Haykal Moussallem, I didn’t know you but I know many of your friends, and they all loved you so. May you all rest in peace, and may your family find solace in you being loved by so many this much.

Elias, Rita and Haykal were actual people. They loved, were loved. They tried to thrive, to build their lives, to reclaim things they had lost. That is a concept that is escaping Lebanese TV stations as they treat Elias, Rita and Haykal as nothing more than push notification entities to get traffic to their websites, sensational stories to get viewers to their channels and click-baits to drive ad money on their websites.

Dear Lebanese TV stations, let me copy paste the rant I’ve already written about you with its many expletives before I elaborate further:

Lebanese TV stations are so fucking unprofessional. How despicable can you get to go to the houses of Istanbul’s victims, film their families receiving the news of their passing, asking them all kinds of ridiculous questions. How the fuck do you think they’re feeling? Are they happy? Do you think I want to see people receiving the worst news of their lives? Fuck you.

It started with them spreading fake news, giving false hope to Elias Wardini’s family that he was safe and sound, without any basis, without fact checking it, without giving a shit how false hope is as devastating in instances such as this as knowing the truth:

They also did the same with Haykal Moussallem. Please note that both fake stories are the same; Haykal and Elias had jumped into the water:

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When it was clear that Elias Wardini did not make it, they set up camp in the middle of his family’s house, filmed them receiving the news of his passing, filmed Elias’ sister receiving the shock of her life and reacting to it as she learned her brother was no more, made the father of the victim cry on national TV, interviewed politicians who couldn’t wait for their moment in the spotlight in the middle of the family’s house.

The more news about more victims surfaced, the more they sought out their sensationalism. More houses were visited. More devastated family members were asked “how they felt,” as if they would answer anything other than “heartbroken.” More interpretation by all knowing news hosts, anchors and reporters were thrown at us about how those families were dealing, coping, and receiving the news.

It’s as if they’re not aware that those that passed away and those that are in critical conditions are people with loved ones and friends who are worried about them. It’s as if they don’t know, based on our previous experiences with the horror we’ve experienced on our soil, how devastating such events could be, let alone have them take place on what should be joyful celebratory days. It’s like they’re not aware of the theatrics they are doing, the reality TV show they’re turning those families’ lives into as they’ll never be whole again, as they’ll never look at New Year’s Day the same once more.

It doesn’t stop there, but even after PM Saad Hariri personally asked Lebanese TV stations to stop their coverage from the houses of the victims, MTV’s reporters not only refuse to do so but call on the Red Cross on live TV to come to the victims’ houses because some of their family members had fainted from the news. Don’t they have a phone they could call from? Or an ounce of dignity they wanted to preserve by not pretending to play heroes on national TV?

That wasn’t the end of it. Our media tried to play the role of the only heroes in this affair, with them being the only entity fighting for our Lebanese victims. Fighting how? With the charade they were airing. Meanwhile, our government was on top of things with a plane being sent with medical equipment to bring back our countrymen home, have all their medical expenses paid for, and have MEA issue free tickets to Istanbul for all families involved.

My heart breaks on this first day of the year ten folds. It breaks because my country is, once again, at the heart of an international tragedy. It breaks for Rita, Elias and Haykal, for all the potential they had, for all the love they gave those that loved them, for all the hope they had and all the days they had in front of them. It breaks for their families, who are as broken as this country on this horrifying morning.

And throughout those breaks, I can’t but be disgusted at how our media handle – and always handle – our national losses. We are not material for you to get money. We are not sources for you to be sensational. We are not faceless names you call martyrs to rouse emotions. We are people. We have lives. We have families. We deserve privacy. We deserve some dignity. And you, dear media, deserve a big fat: fuck you.

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Why MTV’s “Banana Song” To Increase Culture In Lebanon Is A Big Failure

The only banana picture worth sharing

The only banana picture worth sharing

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 .”

 

Screw Lebanese Media

Tripoli Sheikh

 

The above sheikh was hosted on NewTV earlier tonight to talk on behalf of the people of Tripoli. I guess that city ran out of spokespeople over the past few days so the TV station in question figured digging this creature up from the depth of whatever abyss he was in was a good idea. Ratings are proportional to beards.

Note that this sheikh is said not to even be from Tripoli and has not been residing there all his life to get to talk on the city’s behalf.

This man spoke about the need for self-security for himself and his fellow Sunnis of Tripoli. Did the TV station in question even bother to target this rhetoric? Of course they didn’t. This is the rhetoric they want being spewed around their airwaves lately. This is what gets people talking. This is what gets people to tune in. Of course, this is precisely the rhetoric that also gets people killed and further explosions taking place and extremism rising. But who cares about that, right?

In the process of his TV moment of fame, this creature also asked for the help and support of Al Qaeda in protecting the people of Tripoli. I’ll leave that notion hanging.

There’s a responsibility for Lebanese media to kill off such eccentrics in times when such extremism is not only unhealthy but detrimental to the well-being of everything around us. Does hate exist? Sure it does. Do people who mean harm for others just because they think differently exist? Sure they do. But it doesn’t mean we should give them air time to poison minds. You only needed to tune into FutureTV on Saturday with Paula Yaacoubian or MTV hosting Khaled el Daher as well, for the nth time, yesterday for your prime examples.

Our TV stations are still searching for the next big scoop instead of being mature and responsible in handling what seems to be an impeding civil war.

PS: If you think my blog titles have a lot of “screw” lately, it’s because we’re in a general state of screwing.