LONDON: An MTV Lebanon video commemorating the victims of the Beirut port blast has been branded as insensitive by social media users.
Titled “A Letter to the Lebanese Judiciary,” the video was shared on MTV online platforms alongside the hashtag, “it’s been a year, the time is up.”
It featured deepfakes of two victims of the devastating Aug. 4 explosion, Ralph Mallahi and Amin Al-Zahed, speaking directly to the camera while pictures and clips from the blast were shown for context.
But the video was slammed by many people on social media with some calling it inappropriate, especially in the run-up to the first anniversary of the disaster.
Are you serious?
This is so unethical and outrageous and inappropriate and ....
— Mouawad Caline (@mouawad_caline) July 27, 2021
Mouin Jaber, co-host of the popular Lebanese podcast “Sarde After Dinner,” told Arab News: “It’s dystopian. It’s emotional manipulation and blackmail taken to a whole other uncanny level.
“You’d understand deepfaking someone who passed away a long time ago, such as seeing an (Albert) Einstein deepfake explaining relativity at a museum, but this is something else.
“One cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that every single TV station in Lebanon is either backed by a political party, or subject to the highest bidder. And that makes you question the intent of those deepfakes, which put me in an even more uncomfortable position than I want to admit,” he said.
Others described the video as “appalling” and “traumatizing” and claimed that the Lebanese people did not require such forms of media to demand justice.
This video is traumatizing, how is it going on TV?
Like seriously we didn’t need to see a reconstruction of two humans that passed away during the Beirut blast to demand justice.
MTV Lebanon reaches a new low!!! https://t.co/i0DmX6dwMF
— Farid Saleh | فريد صالح (@tapho_zoan) July 28, 2021
Some even reported the video for causing offence and psychological harm.
Reported. تفه عليكن pic.twitter.com/DpGFEP57Xe
— Dana (@DanaFd) July 27, 2021
Hana Fakhoury, an activisty in Lebanese civil society groups, told Arab News: “They’re talking about dead people. They’re putting words in dead people’s mouths.
“The video is going to cause pain. It’s not really going to change anything. It’s not like the (Lebanese) judiciary is going to wake up now and realize that they need to start working,” she said.
With the blast anniversary approaching, many Lebanese who have seen their living conditions deteriorate over the past year, are still awaiting justice.
The huge explosion was caused by the detonation of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate being stored at the port and left more than 200 people dead, at least 6,500 injured, and in excess of 300,000 displaced.
The Presidency of the Council of Ministers in Lebanon declared on Wednesday that Aug. 4 would be a national day of mourning with administrations, public institutions, and municipality functions suspended.