“Acteur Bilal Wahib verdacht van verspreiden kinderporno na ‘misplaatste grap’” (Translation: Actor Bilal Wahib accused of spreading child pornography after ‘misplaced joke’). Last week, it seemed that this news kept all media busy. An upcoming actor and music artist (22 years old), made a terribly inappropriate ‘joke’ and with it impacted the life of an underaged boy and his own career. Will going out on the street, or going to a supermarket, ever feel normal for both of them again? How will we prevent these things from happening again in the future?
You look up to them, so you are thrilled to be part of this.
Imagine you are livestreaming with your favorite idol on Instagram, with tons of other fans who are your age watching and probably being a bit jealous. For a lot of people this may sound like a dream coming true. So if you are a boy and you are invited to join in a live stream of two famous actors, you probably will not hesitate one bit. You look up to them, so you are thrilled to be part of this and you won’t question their intentions because you already feel you know them a little from the TV shows they were in. But then this happy moment of fame turns into a huge scandal within a split second of some bad decisions and a tasteless joke. And it turns all lives around.
The livestream incident
For the people who have missed it, we are discussing the incident of Mocro Maffia actors Bilal Wahib and Oussama Ahammoud. Bilal, as a ‘joke’, asked the boy who joined their streaming to show his genitalia, in exchange for 17.000 euros. The boy was hesitant at first, and explained that he did not own a bank account where the money could be transferred to. Bilal responded that the money could be given in cash as well, and eventually the boy gave in. It is unclear whether the actor knew beforehand that he was dealing with an underaged boy here, but nonetheless, this is still an outrageous thing to do. And as little time this incident took to happen, as long its consequences will last.
It was probably not expected by any of them to turn out in such a big scandal. And if it were to be a different time, perhaps the attention would indeed be less extensive. But today, anyone could be their own ‘journalist’ and post something on social media, so if it would not have been for the newspapers, the news would probably still have spread quickly. In this sense, not only the footage of the live stream spread around, but also the accusation of the men and the processes that would follow. And the consequences were clear; employers stopped contracts with the actor, radio stations stopped playing his music and TV broadcasters stopped broadcasting his show. On top of this, both actors are banned from using Instagram again. So in this way, the actor paid for his actions in many ways quickly, and possibly more consequences are to come.
It demonstrates how one can go from having a promising career and tons of followers to being completely cancelled in a day or two.
A similar situation happened a while ago with a TV presenter, whose contracts with TV channels and Het Rode Kruis (Red Cross) were cancelled after being accused of intimidating girls. It demonstrates how one can go from having a promising career and tons of followers to being completely cancelled in a day or two. Still, the boy from the live stream will have to deal with this his whole life, knowing that his classmates saw the stream, and people still own the footage.
Not one single event
It is up to the judges what will happen next, but despite that, one could argue that the loss of work opportunities and the negative media messages have already been a punishment in itself. However, for the kid who took part in the live stream, this is already too late. The video is out there and he will have to live with this incident. And he is not the only one in such a situation.
Many young people have been in situations in which their boundaries were crossed. When a celebrity is involved, there is a lot of media attention immediately, and this possibly even makes it worse for the people involved. But the sharing of private pictures is something that happens more often than we may read about. In schools, among groups of friends… And when this happens, it is already bad enough, but when the whole world seems to know about it, it only makes it worse.
If children experience something like this, it is important that they get the help they need.
If children experience something like this, it is important that they get the help they need. Writer Francien Regelink, now 35, has been in a situation where her private pictures were spread when she was young. In ‘Help! Ik sta online’ (Help, I am on the internet), she tries to help young people with handling a situation in which private pictures or videos get shared.
And maybe it tells us something about the online society as well, as it is easy to say and do things on social media, but some actions could do more damage than we may foresee. Let this incident be a lesson.
Maybe this incident and the media attention it has caused has taught us something. Although many different things have been said online, I think that we can agree about something. Whether it was a joke that turned out completely wrong (if we could even call it a joke) what really matters is that it is painful for the boy. And maybe it tells us something about the online society as well, as it is easy to say and do things on social media, but some actions could do more damage than we may foresee. Should children perhaps be made more aware of this? That what is posted online, stays online forever, and that they should be careful? And should young celebrities be educated as well, to protect them from themselves and the fact that one mistake could get them cancelled?
Maybe we cannot prevent all dangers that come with a rapidly changing ‘online’ and ‘sharing’ society, but we could inform people about it. If they do not already do so, schools could consider the topic. And some celebrities may need to be reminded of the responsibilities that come with being popular on (social) media and having lots of young fans. Let this incident be a lesson, to the ones involved and to kids watching and not watching. Think about what you say or do, and never do something you do not feel okay with.
Cover: RODNAE Productions
Edited by: Andreea Rebegea