By: Engy Mohamed
With Egypt’s recent economic unrest, and as the middle class slips into oblivion, we are left with the two extremities of social class; the poor and the elite. So while poverty rate skyrockets, we are still met by a peculiar soar in luxurious real estate commercials that seem to occupy our televisions every second of every day.
It is true that we have failed to conquer the monstrous financial gap separating the rich and the poor, but what is worse is that we have created yet another barrier to separate the two, based on social class.
Classism is not a newfound phenomenon in Egypt; the poor have long been targets of endless stereotyping and denunciation, but that’s not where the prejudices stop.
We’ve all grown up surrounded by all those insensitive jokes and stereotypes about Upper Egyptians that perhaps along the way, we’ve become immune to them, and not in a good way.
The practice of stereotyping and classism therefore became the norm, which explains why the commercial series released by the real estate developer, Life Park, failed to receive half as much criticism as it deserved.
Life Park’s slogan for the commercial series is that their compound is not for everyone, which explains why they liken their business to a recruitment process, making sure that the place gets to pick the people who have access to it, and not the other way around. Hence the commercial is set in an office where a well-dressed, put together woman interviews an individual who wishes to “apply” for residency, creating a basis for the Life Park series of commercials.
The four Life Park commercials in question start out the same way, with the only difference being the type of “applicant” featured in the ad.
Except, when you think about it, every applicant is the manifestation of four of the endless different stereotypes that exist in our society.
1. The thug
The first commercial features a man who speaks in a way that would suggest he is not in line with Life Park’s implied criteria, and soon begins to hit on the woman conducting the interview.
The Youtube commercial labels him as a “Thug.”
2. The nouveau riche... (or NovoRich!)
The second commercial features a “nouveau riche” man (or NovoRich, as they have put it) who seems to have done nothing wrong except have enough money to buy a place in Life Park.
However, as soon as the man begins to speak, the woman behind the desk tosses his application to the ground without a second thought.
3. Faker (whatever that means)
The same theme is followed in their third commercial which shows a female applicant (labeled “Faker”) who also gets rejected for the same “non-reason.”
The fourth and final commercial does not disappoint in its outrageousness as it features a man dressed to portray an Upper Eastern man who has gotten himself caught in a vendetta (or tar) back home.
All four commercials miss the fact that not all Upper Egyptians are necessarily associated with vendetta, that there’s no such thing as a “nouveau riche” because those who worked hard to earn the money they own should have the right to use it, that not all Egyptians who come from a different background than our so-called elite are “thugs” or “fakers” (seriously, what does that mean?)
Yet again, perhaps what is worse than the commercials is the audience reception, seeing as a large number of people actually found the idea funny. People were actually okay with a commercial that explicitly conveys intolerance for social differences, and uses stereotypes to express this ideal.
Regardless of whether or not Life Park or any other real estate organization actually uses a recruitment process for residents, the mere idea of it should not be contemplated.
So perhaps we should spend more time wondering why so many people can’t afford dinner while others worry about who gets to live in a million-pound house.