Find us on Facebook
This is a public service announcement from somewhere in the Arab world (I tried, but I can’t find any information about it in English. Anyone?) that warns against backbiting. I saw it months ago, and it stuck with me, mostly because of the gruesome imagery and color palette. I came upon it again recently: it has been featured on UmmahFilms’ blog and YouTube videos.
The video features women talking in a group. We sort of make the assumption that they are all friends. So they’re having a great time, laughing and chatting. But what starts as a joyous, color-coordinated gathering turns into a cannibalistic gossipfest.
The scenes cut more quickly, the faint music speeds up and becomes louder. The women are passing around what looks like a gravy boat that is supposed to contain blood. The gravy boat kind of made me laugh: why a gravy boat? Why not teacups of blood? Or margarita glasses?
Anyway, after daintily sucking the blood of others of their fingertips, their appetites are whetted. We see their nails become claw-like, and they bare their teeth (which the viewer half-expects to become fangs) in a wolfish anticipation of the flesh they’re about to feast on; we see a hint of the carcass they’re aiming to savagely tear into. They gnaw, they gnash, they rip tendons from bone—but they never get their clothes dirty!
I’ll be the first to admit: this is pretty enduring. It stayed with me for awhile just because of its ghastly images. But one of the reasons it is so effective is because it applies stereotypes that women are catty gossips: “Women only talk about men and other women! What gossips they are! What big mouths they have!” Not only that, but the bestial transformation of the women in this commercial plays up the idea that women as a gender are malicious gossipers and delight in hurting others with their words.
I’m not going pretend that some women don’t utter nasty things about other people or even aim to hurt others with their gossip. C’mon, now. But we all know that some of the brothers at the masjid aren’t really talking about politics after prayer. Not all men or women are blameless when it comes to backbiting.
The problem with this commercial is that it admonishes all Muslims against backbiting, but features only women. I think if they had another one with men, or one commercial that featured a male gathering as well, I wouldn’t get so bent out of shape.
Featuring men might be even more effective: imagine some brother’s beard glistening with blood as he claws at some carrion. That image alone is going to frighten me for weeks.