MBC-owned video-on-demand streaming service Shahid.net has recently come under heavy fire after announcing the release of a drama series called 6:07 Beirut.
As the trailer shows, the series relives the devastating explosion that took place merely two months ago. It is a tragedy that caused tremendous trauma to many of the country’s residents who are still mourning and recovering from the blast.
Shahid described the original production as “a series of 15 short films that looks at the tragic 2020 Beirut explosion, highlighting stories of victims as well as survivors.” It plans to release it on Oct. 17th, the anniversary of the Lebanese uprising.
Yet the trailer highlighted moments of people’s lives before, during, and after the explosion, and that didn’t sit well with anyone.
Many accused the producers of capitalizing on grief. “Our traumas and tragedies aren’t yours to profit off…” said one user on Twitter, to whom Shahid responded:
“We understand you and we hear you clearly. We want to reassure you that this project was made to shed light on the tragic event that happened to our beloved city Beirut and to Lebanon.”
The reply went on explaining that the show is meant to convey the stories of people’s losses, and the intention is to bring ‘healing with art.’
It still wasn’t accepted; understandably so.
The concept of “healing with art,” or Art Therapy as it is known, does not utilize the process of having recently traumatized people watching the horror they just lived.
According to The American Art Therapy Association, healing with art is the process of creating art, “facilitated by a professional art therapist,” to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness.
The goal is to help people explore self-expression through their own creative arts (drawing, painting, singing, writing, collage) and come to develop new coping skills.
Art-based interventions, under professional supervision and guidance, could be “effective in reducing adverse physiological and psychological outcomes,” however, “the extent to which these interventions enhance health status is largely unknown,” according to an extensive study by Heather L. Stuckey, DEd, and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH.
Regardless of Shahid’s intentions, the service was marked as highly insensitive by the online community. The series was just too soon, no one is ready for it.
Shahid has since removed the show’s promotion from social media but it is still showing the trailer on its streaming platform with the “coming soon” announcement. Even that trailer is too harsh to watch whether you lived the trauma from close or afar.
With all the numerous initiatives done in response to the Beirut explosion and its catastrophe, this one stands out as lacking total empathy. People are hardly coping with the trauma, the least they need is to relive it with visuals and sounds and theatrical special effects.