Happy in Bahrain: Whitewashing?


To tell you the truth, I don’t really know the answer to that question. It’s complicated; too complicated for me to formulate an opinion about the issue overnight.

In fact, I have been grappling with issues of white-pink-blackwashing for a long time now.

JEO Productions – a small media production company – released a video yesterday entitled “Happy in Bahrain” that is trending right now, but there are people who think that there’s something off in the video.

They ask, “Where are the villages? Why isn’t Sitra shown in the video? What about the people being tear-gassed every day? They’re not happy.”

Marc Owen Jones made his own video that showed an (un)happy version of Bahrain because he believed that the JEO Productions video was not accurate and could be used to whitewash Bahrain’s state violence.

Sara Janahi and ECHOES Productions also released their own video, showcasing different locales and people.

And they are all different, they each paint different pictures of life and happiness in Bahrain and that’s great! But are the “Happy” version whitewashing?

I still don’t know the answer to that.



But my thinking is that, maybe, a small media production company making a 4-minute YouTube video is not the same as state officials visiting other countries to convince them of their alleged goodwill. It’s not the same as the state investing millions into public relations companies to improve its image in the media.

It’s just a short YouTube video that aims to show what this group of people thinks happiness means – in Bahrain. Who is to say that the people in the JEO Productions video are not genuinely happy in Bahrain? At the same time, who is to say that there are not any unhappy people in Bahrain, as well?

Ultimately, it’s impossible to paint a perfectly accurate picture of what happiness is in a country of a million and a half people. Every one of them is going to define happiness differently, not to mention defining what “Bahrain” means to them.

If I could make my own video, I would have one that injects as much cultural and ethnic diversity as possible. One of the criticisms I had with the JEO Productions video was that it disproportionately represented expatriates (noticeably wealthy ones), while the Sara Janahi one disproportionately represented Bahraini locals.

To me, how can you have a video about Bahrain without any Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, Filipinos, British and Bahraini people?

In many households in this country, Bahrainis, Indians, Filipinos, all live together under one roof, so how come they’re not included proportionately in these videos?

When it comes down to it, this is all a question of identity – “What does Bahrain mean to you?” The answers are going to be different for everybody.

The only way to paint a more accurate picture of Bahrain is when all of these groups make a video of their own, put it next to everyone else’s so we can all look at them panorama-style on the wall.

Make more Happy and Unhappy in Bahrain’s. Share your Bahrain with everyone. It will start to look more accurate eventually.



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