Clothing = Fear – BY MC CALDA

Ethics, emotion, logic – are the appeals that could make a content go viral.  This is from Jonah Berger’s Interest on marketing that made Aristotle’s three principle entirely modern. Every day, something spreads to millions of people in the web powered by people sharing things with their friends or family—may it be a quote, a simple nothing, cute animals that deserves  a spot in our feeds or even political stands. Social media is an excellent medium to promote a content, it is an ideal platform to reach a much wider audience in just a matter of clicks, alone. Every little thought that wants to be heard can be online. But take full caution for its viral nature and peer to peer interaction, we can no longer control the message. And this messages could be in forms of encouragement, or an insult. There are plenty of posts that can translate into “red flags” for other people, such as crude or provocative photos, discriminatory comments, trash-talking and posts about racism.

Face-palming, cringe-giving, and eye rolling online posts sometimes makes people want to delete account, shut down social media and move to another planet. Now with Social media, idiocy has a voice and a platform.  You will be amazed at some of the idiotic comments and posts people put up online. Idiocy as defined by Olga Oriunov, is about gathering and crafting ‘rubbish’ that does not give answers or that has direct access to truth, but that enquiries and stages encounters with the real through its force of insignificant, false and preposterous doings.

In this blog, we will talk about one of the 3 folds of humor stated in the article: Parodic—is a work that uses imitation. Some parodies that hit the internet went huge due to its power of laughter but some was a big hit not only for its capacity to make people laugh but also because of its element that contradicts people of society.

One classic example of which is the Series of Arab public scare Prank video compilation that was a viral video that resonated among netizens that its first upload gathered 4,294,951 views on youtube and 35,760,185 views, 49,684 shares, 115,000 reactions and 15, 384 comments on facebook as of press time and is still being re-uploded by various users in  different social platforms.

The videos shows a man dressed in traditional Arabic-style robes throwing a suspicious parcel or asking to hold for a second a bag or give an alpaca and  at random strangers before running off and sparking the panic. This footage is from a facebook page of three men calling themselves the “Jalals”. These Jalal brothers, with no apparent reason dressed as a militant Muslim with an Arab turban and a beard thought it would be fun to prank innocent unsuspecting civilians not once but countless number of tries in series of video compilations.

The first set of videos are called “Public Bomb Prank” where they throw a bag in an area with people and they would run away that causes the people in the area to crazily “save their lives” by ridiculously running away too.

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Video #1: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/739068389570085/
153K reactions, 100k comments, 11M views, and 463K shares

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Video #2: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/804310299712560/
887 reactions, 503k comments, 88M views, and 2M shares

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Video #3: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/741369302673327/
314K reactions, 103k comments, 23M views, and 400k shares

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Video #4: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/752366571573600/
156k reactions, 38k comments, 12M views and 190k shares

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Video #5: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/766207746856149/
145K reactions, 26K comments, 10M views, and 101K shares

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Video #6: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/838633312946925/
188K reactions, 28K comments, 12M views, and 124K shares

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 Video #7: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/870376429772613/
320K reactions, 80K comments, 42M views, and 597K shares

 

This bomb scare pranks garnered different reactions from all kinds of people. Some said they were entertained and it was hilarious but others weren’t so happy about it.

 

“During these times where Muslims are being put on the forefront and being mass labeled as terrorists, don’t you think that doing something like this only hurts them even more especially since there are a lot Of dumb ass people out there that already believe that all Muslims are terrorists?”- Kevin Neely

“This the dumbest shat I’ve ever seen… this shit not only can get you killed but the person you’re doing the prank on… suppose that “bomb” you threw in the car the driver panicked and hit the gas into on coming traffic.. a$$ holes will do anything now days for views.” – Romarise Williams

Regardless of the comments that the group called ‘hilarious’ they continued to upload pranks, and now on its second season. They upgraded the bomb bag with a dynamite looking thing and gives it to random people. What’s quite different now is they would literally lit the ‘dynamite’ before running away.

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Video: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/799097796900477/
136K reactions, 21K comments, 9.1M views and 161K shares

And it did not stop there, the latest video pranks now involve a baby doll wrapped in cloth so people would think it is real and an alpaca. With the same drill as before, it still continues to haunt people and making fun of how they stumble and ran away.

 

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Video: https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/785396584937265/
95K reactions, 10k coments, 5.6M views, and 44K shares

 

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Video:https://www.facebook.com/JalalsOfficial/videos/vb.669561433187448/977328145744107/?type=2&theater
157K reactions, 13K comments, 8M views and 50K shares

 

Admit it or not, we are all somehow brainwashed by the media that the depiction of Arabs. We are all in some way part of Racial Stereotyping. Racial stereotypes are automatic and exaggerated mental pictures that we hold about all members of a particular racial group. And for others Arab always begins with being a Muslim. When in reality Arabs make up only about 1/3 of the total worldwide Muslim population of over one billion people. And with that comes, muslims are terrorists. Many non-Muslims regard Islam as a religion that promotes violence, terrorism, and war –this is why people fear mean who wear the traditional arab clothes out on the streets. We develop our racial stereotypes in a variety of ways, on a very simple level, it’s human nature to categorize people to make the world smaller for us. As we grow older and are influenced by the media, our tendency to label different groups as superior or inferior , good or bad increases significantly. Hollywood films have been vilifying Arabs for decades, they are either billionaires, bombers or belly dancers in movies. This is one of the main reasons why people were alarmed by this type of pranks, not only does it promote racism but also heats up the thought that islam or arabs are terrorists and equating the Muslim garb as a costume to be feared.

There’s no law stating we can’t wear other races’ traditional clothes. We can wear these clothes out on the street any time but with proper caution. Wearing traditional attire is different from dressing up as another race or creating a notion that you are disrespecting others tradition.  This video isn’t the first time that the Arab traditional clothe was violated. In fact, this is a big issue specially during Halloween costume parties.

Let us not go any farther, our very own Senator Tito Sotto was backlashed for this. The actor turned politician was under fire from Muslims in  our country after he turned up in the traditional Arab men’s garment, called thawb, for Eat Bulaga’s Halloween special in November 2015. Mujiv Sabbihi Hataman, governor of Philippines’  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao lashed out at the actor for his decision to wear the traditional Muslim clothing for a Halloween event where people generally are dressed in costumes resembling spooky characters. The governor argued that Sotto was portraying Muslims as troublemakers and mocks the image of muslin in the name of entertainment and promotes Islamophobia. But nevertheless, critics was not powerful enough to make him apologize in public. He argued that the costume was to honor his Arab friend and that there was nothing wrong with what he did.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 7.21.45 PM.png(Photo courtesy of Philippine Daily)

Yes, the Senator did not do anything disrespectful while wearing the outfit but can he not be more sensitive of the occasion while he was wearing it? What stays in the mind of people is that he wore that for Halloween –a season where monster, witches, spooky creatures dominate. And there he was, downplaying promoting hate. Halloween is the time to be scary. Does this mean he portrays this costume as somewhat scary?  Nonetheless, it took offense to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Whatever our reasons, may it be plain entertainment or just for a costume, people cannot use this excuse as a time to be offensive.  People dress up as celebrities, cops, politicians, and other powerful figures, and it can be funny. But when you dress up as a culture that is currently oppressed, or have a subjugated past, you’re not inverting anything, you’re just kicking them all the way down. We are all aware of how Muslims and Arabs fought this battle regarding generalizing them. Wearing Hijab does not mean terrorist. Many of us already labeled wearing it as passive terrorism and many assume that wearing the hijab and arab thawb was linked to violence and danger but in reality, it is just because of the culture of the religion.

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“I’m a Muslim andnot a terrorist” was also a viral video in answer to the world’s generalization. Late November 2016  in the wake of the attacks in Paris that reignited the further anti-Muslim sentiments, YouTuber Arian Kashef posted a video on YouTube entitled “Blind Muslim Trust Experiment.” He is blindfolded, his arms outstretched, and next to him is a sign that read: “I’m Muslim and people call me a terrorist. Do you trust me? If yes, hug me.” The post had amassed 58 million views, been liked 940,000 times and been shared 919,000 times.

Idiocy problematizes the mechanization and exposure of subjectification; in other ways it is light and funny but it can also be dark in what it asks or reveal through its behavior. In line with the examples above, the surface level of the acts wants it to be entertaining and funny for its viewers but in a deeper sense, it promotes a current human condition that is not appropriate and not tolerable at all. I am deeply sorry for the wrong picture of Arab and Islam, which is being spread all around the world, making all of them terrorists. We have been fed by the notion that one race, one color, or one religion is simply higher than the other thus the result of our unequal view of our differences. People needs to start working in creating a society in which all races are valued, appreciated, and embraced not degraded nor invisible.

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8 thoughts on “Clothing = Fear – BY MC CALDA

  1. Hi MC,
    the idiocy in Arab public bomb prank is an interesting one. For a certain people that doesn’t have the experience in a dangerous bomb condition, this prank is very idiotic. It is very light and funny. On the other hand, in a certain context this is an ironic thing. The Arab and Muslim get a bad exposure in this idiotic. Maybe this idiocy is not hurting all of Arab and Muslim people, but in the same time there is people who will get angry with this idiocy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, I am not a fan of pranks. Yes, some may be funny, but the subject of this post, is not funny at all. Innocent people were very busy doing their stuff, then suddenly, people dressed as Arabs, handed fake dynamites, which caused people to tremble and panic. I honestly do not like the fact that these Jalals wore Arab suits in pranking people. I agree with you, MC, that such is tantamount to racial stereotyping. I do not get it that some people find it difficult to respect and just be kind to others. Respect begets respect. Further, Tito Sotto, argued that the costume he used in Eat Bulaga’s 2016 Halloween special was to honor his Arab friend and that there was nothing wrong with what he did. Oops, Senator Sotto, I think it is better for you to honor your Arab friend not during Halloween. This senator becomes a consistent subject of criticism because of the annoying things he does. I hope people would think more than twice next time before they elect him, because honestly, he does not deserve the position.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi MC,

    I though that your chosen topic for this blog assignment is really a very good material to study media idiocy. First, you were right when you said that idiocy now has a voice and a “platform” in the age of social media in the internet. Contrary to Paolo’s post with the mom in the Chewbacca mask, which showed an entertainingly positive and productive aftermath, This one rather showed very much the opposite I believe. While the affordances of new media forms have the utility to become powerful channels for cultural transmission, it poses the danger that the “wrong cultural ideas” could instead be delivered and spread widely. In addition, posts like these might be very sensitive to the ‘less-informed’, and the “real-world victims” that were somehow traumatized by real-life events of similar nature . The less-informed may not be able to easily grasp the idea of the prank and be easily convinced that “These guys are dressed in this certain way so they are most likely terrorists!”. On the one hand, the real-world victims could suffer from a terrible flashback such as the 9/11 attack, a recent bombing/shootout, or was formerly a hostage in a bank robbery. What’s even scarier is the rapid spread of these types cultural pollution and how its spread could lead to even more discrimination or hate that should not be there in the first place. The Jalals think this is funny, But I think that operationalizing their intended terrorist prank in these public places has gone way too far. Most may find this as funny in the beginning, but later on, it will somehow kick you in the face and tell you that something’s not right here, and it went too far.

    From the other clips of this ‘series’ of pranks, it is quite interesting how the people/’victims’ physically reacted to the Jalals action. The failed production of perhaps the “right meanings” for these types of clothing have been perpetuated and being further amplified by the media ever since 9/11 happened. The whole world just simply generalized, and stereotyped what a possible terrorist might look like. The attire, and the physical (facial) traits of people wearing these types of outfits have somehow been made into as a ‘threat stimuli’ for most of us. We can easily notice this “reaction to stimuli” based on the ‘victims’ initial, almost involuntary actions when faced with pranks like these. The victims acted too quick, in almost lightning speed to just evade/dodge/counter and make a run for their lives. It’s as if as these Jalal guys became the ‘allergens’ that immediately gave their targets an ‘allergic reaction’. All it needs is a full beard, full white attire (thawb), and perhaps a turban. And to me, this is really heartbreaking to see, and how most of us ended up associating like this, even if we feel like we’re not discriminating them. There is some degree of doubt that’s been planted in all of us. To add insult to injury, it’s also even heartbreaking to see people like the Jalals make fun of, and exploit this absurdity that has been constantly being fed to us by the (US) media ever since terror struck America, who up until this day has been the “default” and dominant “global culture”. The Western US Media’s (news, movies, TV shows, internet) numerous depiction of what ‘terror’ in human form resembles could be their form of “revenge”… to further reinstate their position in the magnitude of the global, and to remind the media sphere of who’s still boss. And with this, the construction of a “society in which all races are valued, appreciated, and embraced not degraded nor invisible” would forever be stuck in limbo and will never make its way to the surface.

    My apologies for having so much feels for this. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi MC! A great and Interesting topic to discuss new media idiocy. Firstly, I am not fun of any prank because of its dreadful reaction that people can have as what you have explained and shown in this prank. Yes, we have the tendency to laugh at people who experience a tremendous amount of pain but then again we should be more sensitive. If I remember correctly, one shooting prank got really out of hand. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhaBmIq54cU)
    Please see the link. Really, this is not humor. Some of the pranks are light and funny (like in JUST FOR LAUGHS) to watch but if you exceed the limitation and boundaries of a safe prank then you will be having a problem. Here in your post, clearly there were damages done not physically but in terms of culture of a specific community. Some already have xenophobia to Muslim related countries. Viewing it as an evil/ terrorist culture is not a good way to start a prank as if the Muslim community has no blemish of racism before.

    Like

  5. Hi MC!

    Thanks for writing this blog as I am now aware that there is a prank like this. Just like Mr. Jeff Acala, I myself is not a fan of pranks. Pranks may cause harm to others esp in relation to health. Seeing these people intentionally wearing “thawb” or Arab clothing while doing a prank is really disgusting. They did not think about the consequences that might affect the “Arab” that they are portraying. In this generation that we live in, many people believe on what they see or hear without any validation. Arabs in this prank are definitely misrepresented. The reaction of the people is a proof on how Arabs are misrepresented. This is indeed idiocy, stupidity, and heartless. People who did this did not think how the Arabs would feel. With the misrepresentation, the Muslim community is suffering because of the negative attention they are getting, The “bomb prank” is already stupid then they added the “man in costume” pa. I am also not in favor with people wearing the national costume of a certain country in Halloween parties or Christmas parties. These costumes were not made to scare people or entertain people. A national costume represents a country. I really hope that this prank would stop already. 😦

    Like

  6. Hello, Miss MC.

    To be honest, what others think is a prank may just add to the damage and misappropriation of another’s culture. Idiotic, insensitive, and offensive, indeed. Just when you thought that the world is evolving into a more open-minded society, pricks like these people surface online. So disappointing.

    Like

  7. Hey, MC! Great read! I agree that some pranks are indeed funny and entertaining to watch. However, some pranks may be very harmful to other people. I believe that pranking has its limits. Pranks similar to what you have written may have negative effects not only to the people being pranked, it can also result to more people having “islamophobia” and relating arabs, Iraqis, etc. to terrorist attacks.

    Like

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