Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Egypt’s Ramadan 2019 : Racism and body shaming as usual in Prank show

There is no doubt in my mind when Egyptian comedian Shaimaa Seif agreed to appear in a blackface as a Sudanese lady for a prank show in Ramadan , she did not see any problem in that and believed it would bring laughter as usual.

Then thousands of Sudanese people slammed her online forcing her to close her Facebook account and official Facebook page and I do not have to bet that till now she may not understand why they are so angry.

Shaimaa's bad prank 

The popular Egyptian comedian had a prank show from couple of years when she was still unknown comedian in B-List Comedy channel where she tricked people while ridding a micro-bus.
In 2019 , she and her team brought back the show but this time with a big budget from Saudi-network MBC to be aired in Ramadan on MBC Misr 2 before Iftar in Egypt.
Shaimaa Seif in blackface in the show
On its first episode , we found Sudanese people expressing their anger online when they saw Seif appearing in blackface harassing people in the micro-bus and what made it worse , MBC Misr and MBC Misr 2 were promoting the video on social media as a funny thing !!
In no time , her social media accounts, official Facebook pages and accounts were flooded with angry thousands of angry comments from Sudanese people.

Many of them were not kind in their comments as they body-shamed her for also being oversized or in other common words : fat.

The reverse-racism and body-shaming , one issue brings us to the other.

Shaimaa Seif issued a very short apology saying that she meant no insult to the Sudanese people , a thing which I  believe it but it does not make things less serious. She attacked those who attacked her and then she closed her social media account.

Shaimaa Seif become recently a popular rising comedian and TV host.
As TV host , Shaimaa became part of the localized “The View” show and actually mostly voices logic in those show
Unfortunately , part of Seif’s comedian start was in “Misr theater” TV troupe and their sisters which depend on body-shaming jokes and her co-actors making fun of weight in a very cheap way.
It is very sad thing.

Back to our main issue here, blackface and its history are truly something most of the Egyptian people are unfamiliar with.
Only recently young generations began to understand its negative meaning and history through online interaction more than anything.

Up till now , MBC Misr did not issue any apology for any kind and the show is still running.
I saw the videos from that controversial episode on MBC Group official YouTube account.

Unfortunately and again , most the Egyptian people especially from older generations do not know what the problem with the Blackface and it is bad history in the world especially in the West.

Also we have got a very bad history with negative representation of black Africans especially Sudanese and Somali people in Egyptian entertainment .

What makes things worse too is that Egyptian entertainment industry does not admit that we got racism , misogynist and stereotyping problems.

A pass for Ramez Galal and his show

Ironically , I do not see anyone watches or follows that MBC Misr 2’s pranks show in the first place and I will dare to say that most people did not know that Seif has got a Prank-TV show except when the whole thing erupted online.

On the other hand , there are millions of Egyptians who follow on a daily basis while eating their Iftar Ramez Galal’s prank show on MBC Misr.
Ramez Galal's look in Ramadan 2019
Known for his notorious pranks and outrageous rude side-comments about his guests, Ramez Galal became a staple Ramadan segment with his show in the past 6 years.

Aside from the usual debate whether his victims know in advance that they will get punked , nobody speaks about Galal’s troubling comments that can’t be described except classist,misogynist,racist and bullying.

In the second episode of his show this year , Ramez Galal’s victim was none other than Shaimaa Seif who he body-shamed through out the episode with silly and rude as well classist comments about her.
At first glance , I thought that this was karma but it is also wrong.

Of course I can't ignore his comments about his first classist and body-shaming comments about belly dancer Fifi Abdou.

Ramez Galal seems to have a pass for all his racism and bullying as long as he has got high viewership.

Only last year , anti-sexual harassment campaigns voiced their concerns about his side comments in his episode hosting actress Yasmine Sabry.  In that episode ,Galal’s comments fell under “sexual harassments” category directly.

Yet the condemnation was only online and nothing has changed as he continued his outrageous comments. 
His prank show got what we call in Egypt a golden TV spot with the tier-one advertisements in Ramadan.

By from couple of years ago , popular and controversial TV host Riham Saeed appeared in a blackface in another hidden camera show but due to the fact that nobody was watching it , nobody paid attention except probably few including myself.

The question is till when those stupid TV shows and their hosts will continue to get away with that?

In a perfect world , I would like to see MBC Misr running PSA telling people about the history of blackface as well the harms of body shaming.

I would like to see a campaign targeting those companies running advertisements in shows and TV series based on racism, body-shaming and sexual harassment sending a message that either.

In a perfect world , the true media taboos won’t be the president or politics or the military or state-institutions but rather blackface, racist and sexual harassment comments.

Is it too early to reach for this world ? Even in the A-Class countries , they are still struggling with those issues but at least we should try.

Hell, I do not understand how nobody in the media regulatory bodies that are keeping tabs on every word said in TV series this year did not pay attention for that blackface problem when Egypt chairs the African union this year ? 

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