I’m pleased to announce that my costume won the Halloween competition at Hamra’s Metro Al Madina night club last night.
I played the devil who stars on every Lebanese TV channel: their logos appearing below:
So who was I?
A Lebanese politician, of course.
The idea was partly inspired by a list of subversive costume ideas produced by the Now Lebanon team.
The piece suggested playing a particular Lebanese leader and many politicians’ faces are now on sale at Beirut costume stores:
The list of masks continues to grow each year, with the latest being Saida cleric Ahmed Al Assir:
But I think Lebanese have seen enough of the same faces appearing on our TV channels for decades now, urging us to take sides against their similarly aged, decades-old foes.
So I chose to be the devil, representing the sectarian-toned and often violent speech that has become political culture in Lebanon–a culture of threats and fear-mongering rhetoric that is broadcast by local television stations, who surrender hours of air time to those same old faces every day.
Many young Lebanese have given up hope on changing the nepotistic, corrupt political system, opting to immigrate abroad or succumb to the deep seated fear of the other by choosing ‘the lesser of two evils.”
But I think discontent with the current system is more widespread than many believe. In addition to winning the contest, countless people on the street, including shopkeepers and cab drivers congratulated me on the costume. The cooks at a local fast food restaurant even went outside to take pictures with me.
Lebanon is often seen as the last country to see political change, but as rebellion and turmoil sweeps the region, will more Lebanese begin to question their own leaders and the tired rhetoric that sustains them?