What is the celebrity ‘blockout’ over the war in Gaza?

In New York some social media users are calling out celebrities for what they say is inaction in the face of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. (AP/File)
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Updated 15 May 2024
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What is the celebrity ‘blockout’ over the war in Gaza?

  • For the blockout, users put a block on seeing any and all content from the accounts of certain celebrities on social media platforms

NEW YORK: Some social media users are calling out celebrities for what they say is inaction in the face of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza — and they’ve taken to a “blockout” to pressure the stars to take a stand.
For the blockout, users put a block on seeing any and all content from the accounts of certain celebrities on social media platforms including X, TikTok and Instagram. Some have posted about the celebrities they’ve blocked, using a hashtag such as #blockout, #blockout2024, or #celebrityblockout, while others have shared posts from users lambasting attendees of high-glamor events like the Met Gala and contrasting it with the situation in Gaza.
Blockout participants say it’s a protest because the celebrities either haven’t spoken up or haven’t said enough against Israel’s actions in Gaza during its war with Hamas. Since the war erupted Oct. 7 with Hamas’ deadly attacks, Israel’s military has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants.
How does the blockout work?
On social media platforms, users see content from people they follow, as well as from those chosen for them by algorithms. In both instances, users can select options to mute or block a person or account.
Blocking the accounts of celebrities or influencers means not seeing any of the content they produce on social media — no posts, no photos or videos, no collaborations with sponsors. The number of people interacting with content brings in money, so the blocks are meant to affect views, engagement and — ultimately — paychecks.
The blockout also is meant to target celebrities’ brands by taking eyeballs and attention away from their content.
Who is being blocked?
There is no single organized list of celebrities being blocked. Some users are offering celebrity suggestions, while others are deciding on their own. Celebrities in the US and beyond have been named in the blockout.
Blocking is up to each social media user. And every celebrity, influencer or content creator must be blocked individually on each platform.
How did the blockout start?
Protests around the Israel-Hamas war have grown, with encampments on college campuses around the country. Amid those movements, attention to what celebrities and influencers were, or weren’t, saying got a boost after the Met Gala last week.
The annual party draws a host of famous faces from the worlds of fashion, movies, music, sports and more. It’s known for its over-the-top arrivals carpet and the elaborate outfits celebrities wear. This year, the gala was circled by protesters for much of the evening.
Social media was flooded with images from the star-studded event. Around the same time, images circulated as Israel launched a military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. That led to some users calling out the contrast between the gala’s celebrity opulence and the situation in Gaza — using images from both — and condemning celebrities for not using their platforms to speak up for those who are suffering.
Will the blockout be effective?
The effectiveness and staying power of the blockade are yet to be seen, said Beth Fossen, assistant professor of marketing at Indiana University. It might depend on the celebrity and what they’re known for — a famous person whose “brand” is tied to humanitarian causes may be more affected than one known primarily for talent, she added.
“If your identity is really tied to promoting something that is key to the boycotting, then this could potentially have really serious consequences for you,” Fossen said. “There might be some influencers that gain their fame by sort of promoting peace and then they’re being silent on this issue — followers may not forgive them.”
Is there blockout backlash?
There has been criticism of the blockout, with some saying the focus on celebrities takes attention away from what’s happening on the ground in Gaza. Others question what the parameters are for judging whether someone should be blocked — and what would constitute a well-known person speaking out or doing enough.


Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

Updated 28 May 2024
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Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

DUBAI: British singer Adele showed off a gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab during her Las Vegas residency over the weekend.  

The Grammy-winning singer performed her 42nd “Weekends with Adele” concert in a sleek black, off-shoulder gown with a deep V-neck.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

 

“Captivating elegance, @adele graces the stage in Vegas in (a) … custom made Haute Couture gown,” read a post on the official Instagram page of Elie Saab.

Adele has previously chosen other designers from the region to wear during her residency, including Zuhair Murad and Georges Hobeika.

The residency is set to conclude in November this year.


Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

Updated 28 May 2024
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Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

DUBAI: Argentine model Georgina Rodriguez took to social media to share images from her recent visit to beauty store Faces in Riyadh Park Mall.

The social media sensation – partner to football legend Cristiano Ronaldo – posted a reel on Instagram featuring moments from her trip to the store, captioning the post, “Beauty time with @facesmiddleeast,” along with a pink heart emoji.

 

 

Rodriguez can be seen getting an analysis with Faces’ skincare diagnosis machine and trying on several of the store’s products.

Rodriguez also took a moment to congratulate Ronaldo on Instagram Stories as the Portuguese footballer – who plays for Saudi football club Al-Nassr – set a new record for goals scored in a Saudi Pro League season.

The 39-year-old took his tally of goals scored to 35 after he netted two goals against Al-Ittihad on Monday night.


New film festival in London seeks to ‘reclaim, celebrate’ Muslim identity

Updated 28 May 2024
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New film festival in London seeks to ‘reclaim, celebrate’ Muslim identity

  • Event features narratives from Muslim filmmakers, productions inspired by Muslim culture and faith

LONDON: A new film festival in the UK is on a mission to explore Muslim experiences through film.

The inaugural Muslim International Film Festival will begin on May 30 in London’s Leicester Square.

The four-day event features narratives from international Muslim filmmakers as well as productions inspired by Muslim culture and faith.

“The idea behind the festival is about reclaiming our identity and celebrating it. For the longest time, being Muslim has felt like something we can’t be proud of,” MIFF director Sajid Varda told Arab News.

He added: “We’ve had to hide our identity, and the narrative around our faith and identities has often been controlled by others.

“There’s been a persistent frustration with how to change those perceptions and how to reconnect with wider audiences and communities.

“We want to give them a glimpse into our lives and lived experiences, while also showcasing the cinematic brilliance of our creative community and its contributions to cinema.”

The event will begin with the London premiere of “Hounds” (“Les Meutes”) by Moroccan director Kamal Lazraq. The film follows a father and son in Casablanca’s suburbs who make ends meet by committing petty crimes for a local mob until a kidnapping goes horribly wrong.

Other highlights include critically acclaimed films set in the UK, France, Turkiye, Tunisia, Jordan, Iran and Sudan.

The festival will include Q&A sessions, panels and networking events in partnership with the British Film Commission, Netflix and the BBC.

Organizers have made the festival as accessible as possible to wider audiences, Varda said.

“We wanted to ensure that the films align with our faith and ethos, avoiding gratuitous violence, nudity and overtly sexual themes. This makes the content accessible to all, not just Muslims, but also people of other faiths and beliefs who might be sensitive to these issues.”

He added: “Our ticket costs are much lower compared to other festivals. We’ve also given out many tickets at no cost to various organizations, and offered discounts to students and those facing financial hardship.”


Review: ‘Norah’ makes Cannes history with its delicate handling of a Saudi story

“Norah” had its official screening at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. (AN/ Ammar Abd Rabbo)
Updated 27 May 2024
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Review: ‘Norah’ makes Cannes history with its delicate handling of a Saudi story

CANNES: Director Tawfik Alzaidi's “Norah” made history when it was selected as the first Saudi film to screen on the official calendar at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film premiered at December’s Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah before heading to the French Riviera last week, where it ran in the famed festival’s Un Certain Regard section.

“Norah” is the story of a restless young woman (played with wonderful ease by Maria Bahrawi), who dreams of a life beyond her immediate surroundings.

Set in 1990s Saudi Arabia when conservatism ruled and the pursuit of all art, including painting, was frowned upon, a new world opens up for Norah when Nader (Yaqoub Alfarhan), a failed artist and teacher from the city, comes to her village. Despite the rigid rules of society, the pair form a platonic relationship, linked by a passion for the arts. What emerges is a story in which the characters inspire each other, played out against the backdrop of the scenic AlUla region in Saudi Arabia, a location that is becoming a major moviemaking hub.

Norah, brought up by her uncle and aunt after having lost her parents early on, listens to music and pores over magazines. She encourages Nader to follow his passion for drawing, and their affection for each other gradually develops into an unshakable union.

The director strives to walk a tightrope, maintaining an equilibrium between Saudi sensibilities and a daringly emotional outlook. He explores the hesitant heartbeats of Norah and Nader but stops short of entering any overt romantic territory. The love affair, in this case, in one with the arts — both lead characters yearn for the chance to creatively express themselves.

While the narrative carries on at a gentle pace, the tone and tenure seem ruffled and out of place in the finale — with a rather bizarre ending marred by uncertainty. Alzaidi loses his grip over the narration, which until then seemed to have traversed a smooth road.


Sofia Carson shows off Elie Saab gown on the red carpet

Updated 26 May 2024
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Sofia Carson shows off Elie Saab gown on the red carpet

DUBAI: US actress Sofia Carson showed off a gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab at the closing ceremony of the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival.

The star, who has showed off Lebanese labels on multiple red carpets in the past, opted for an olive-toned ensemble from the designer’s Spring/ Summer 2024 couture collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Styled by Erin Walsh, Carson posed for photos on the red carpet in the look that featured a draped skirt and embellishments on the neckline.

The latest red carpet appearance proves Carson is something of a fan of Lebanon’s couturiers — In 2022 the “Purple Hearts” actress was spotted in New York wearing an ensemble by Zuhair Murad. Carson attended the Global Citizen Festival in a coordinating look from Murad’s Resort 2023 collection. The outfit featured an embellished crop top and mini skirt set with matching thigh-high leather boots.

In late 2023, the actress cut an elegant figure in a Zuhair Murad gown at the second annual Cam for a Cause event in memory of her former co-star Cameron Boyce, who died at the age of 20 due to an epileptic seizure.

Fast forward to 2024 and the now-concluded Cannes Film Festival has played host to a number of Arab-created looks.

Saudi designer Eman Al-Ajlan dressed Leomie Anderson. (Getty Images)

Saudi designer Eman Al-Ajlan dressed British model and TV presenter Leomie Anderson in a structured look featuring a mini dress with a net-like skirt fitted underneath at the 2024 amfAR Gala in Cannes.

A few celebrities opted for gowns by Murad at the same event, including German model Toni Garrn, sports commentator Alex Scott and Brazilian model Thayna Soares.

Meanwhile, German model Kim Dammer dazzled on the red carpet in a glamorous halter-neck black gown, intricately embroidered with geometric shapes by Lebanese couturier Rami Kadi. Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran was championed by Turkish actress Hande Ercel, who wore a black gown adorned with red and blue beads.

Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri was also in attendance, wearing a sparkling silver dress by Lebanese designer Jean Pierre Khoury. The dress featured thousands of mirrored tube beads hand-sewn onto a corseted silhouette, according to the fashion house.