The media plays a key responsibility in the way individuals are perceived. It assists in reinforcing stereotypes, which in turn eliminates the need to observe persons on the basis of their personality. A stereotype is the formation of a prejudiced view or judgment (Schneider 14). People have a tendency of taking the behavior of one individual, and concluding that all persons who belong to that specific religious, racial, or ethnic group behave in a similar way. The creation of stereotypes inspires individuals to behave and react in a way that is both prejudiced and pejorative. A common stereotype regarding the Lebanese is that they are both pretentious and superficial.
In Beirut, plastic surgery is believed to be a national mania (Fordham par. 1). Banks provide loans particularly for plastic surgery or Botox. People, both young and old, love being splendid and attractive, and as a result, they spend a lot of money for of changing their appearance. After surgery, they go out with bandages on, in order to show off to others how they have used their money to make themselves beautiful. This behavior has been criticized by some people, who have gone a step further by displaying images which portray people with bandages on, lips daubed with cherry, whilst their faces depict misery. These images meant to condemn the superficiality of the Lebanese pursuit of beauty and physical perfection.
It is not superficial for the Lebanese to be fanatical of their appearance and beauty. With the many dreadful things taking place in the nation, it can be said that there exists incomprehension of the sociable human beings obsessed with beauty. They spend much effort and time on futile things, rather than focusing on the important things happening around them, including bombs and denominational gunfights that left many civilians dead (Fordham par. 3). Notwithstanding this, people in Lebanon go on with their normal life just the next day after the violence, apparently, having forgotten about the incident. Although such a concern is understood, some argue that staying home for days mourning the deceased would only aggravate their sadness. In spite of their doings, they pray and feel compassion for the departed.
The Lebanese have a tendency of pushing problems away and focusing on fun. This is seen by some as a countrywide “psychological defense mechanism” (Fordham par. 4). They have undergone through periods of external and internal conflicts, while denominational gaps are worsening, and most probably, storing up problems for the future conflicts. This implies that if peoplefocus on the current or future happenings, they will not be able to cope, and that is why they make maximum use of the better part of their life. The society is deemed to reward artificial prettiness and it appears superficial. Nevertheless, it is a sign of a coping mechanism, which generates one of the most loved cities across the globe.
Some argue that Lebanon has torn itself into pieces. Rather than gathering to discuss about the problems facing their nation and how they can be resolved, they gather to have fun. Everybody there has extremely held relationships, inherited and absolutely mismatched with the perceptions of others. They cannot be blamed for avoiding their problems, and focusing on styles and appearance. The Lebanese lifestyle is characterized by having fun, love of living, and making maximum use of their nights and days as to them, living is not guaranteed.
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Jack Shaheen argues that the media portrays Arabs in a hostile and biased way. In the beginning of his text, films that portrayed Arabs as terrorists were saturated all over (433). Further, he introduces the impacts, where he argues that once a stereotypical image is embedded in the mind of a child it can rarely wither away (434). All Arabs are not terrorists as portrayed by the media. Shaheen explains without sentimentalism. He states that “They should not attribute the actions of the lunatic fringe to the vast majority…. These fanatics no more represent Muslims than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christians” (436) and only about 12% of the Muslims in the world are Arabs (434). Whenever there a crisis arose in the Middle East, the Arab-Americans were always subjected to discrimination, incidents of violence and vicious stereotyping. His attitude he received from his mother who, when he tried mimicking bad people, cautioned him saying that stereotypes hurt blur an individual’s way of thinking by corrupting the imagination (434). Being an Arab-American he identified well with the Arabs and he shared the sentiments that the media were one-sided.
El-Farra (par. 2), the western media portrays Arabs in a negative manner. People recognize them as murderers and terrorists as projected by the media. The media fail to evaluate that the Muslim religion preaches equality and peace. Shaheen stated that the Arab stereotypes of today parallel the reflection of Jews in pre-Nazi Germany, the Jews were denoted as different people (El-Farra par. 2). This is a distortion that has compelled the Americans to dislike and mistrust Arabs. Identifying Arabs as terrorists is terming them enemies. The media seemed be biased when using the term terrorism with the Arabs but neutral and unbiased when using the term on non-Arabs (El-Farra par. 3).
The media coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing is a good example of the prejudicial media coverage. After the bombing, the media was quick to insinuate that this was a terrorist attack. Raised with unpopular Arab stereotypes, the Americans developed images showing Arab terrorists bombing their property (El-Farra par. 4). A terrorism guru even told viewers not to believe that the Arabs are innocent of the crime. CNN also revealed the names of the Arab suspects being probed over the bombing. To announce the names of the suspects was unprofessional, as it the objective of any investigation is concealing the suspects until a comprehensive study on the issueis done. The inability of mass media to handle a coerced evaluation of their citizens is what compels them to look for scapegoats. This means that to them, terrorism was only synonymous with the Arabs (El-Farra par. 4).
It is hard to understand a group of people and why they act in certain ways if you do not understand their history (El-Farra par. 30). The media plays a great role in influencing people’s thinking and their perception of other people. However, the manner in which these individuals are characterized in the media shape the stereotypes (El-Farra par. 10).
It is true to say that the Lebanese have undergone through periods of external and internal conflicts, while denominational gaps are worsening, and most probably, storing up future conflicts. This implies that if they focus on the current or future happenings, they will not be able tocope, and that is why they now, while still alive try to make maximum use of the better part of their life. However, the media have reinforced stereotypes, which in turn has eliminated the need to observe persons on the basis of their personality. It perpetuates a stereotype before presenting images that create controversy. As a result, people have developed misconceptions for the Lebanese people, for example, superficial and pretentious. A stereotype reduces the worth of an individual. Terming the Lebanese as superficial and pretentious is not fair. Individuals should be judged without bias. As such, the media should allow its audience to form opinions free from the influence of negative and biased stereotypes. Apparently, an evaluation of how media portrays Arabs proves the existence of negative stereotypes that have been allowed to be persisted by the media. This attitude can be countered by destroying the fallacies of the media.