A wave of backlash has been ignited by social media influencers who posted pictures of themselves attending MDL Beast music festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Actors like Armie Hammer and Ryan Phillippe not only attended the entire festival in the country while neglecting the human rights violation by its government, they also took the opportunity over the weekend to call it a 'cultural shift'. However, the people on the internet did not take the news in the same light as the influencers who promoted the event, instead called them 'shameless'.
While Hammer called the Saudi music festival as 'special' one of the followers lashed out on him and accused him of 'promoting a country that kills journalists, LGBTQ+ people restrict the lives of women.
Not only netizens, even the fashion industry watchdog, but Diet Prada also bashed the event along with its attendees in a post accompanied by photos from the MDL Beast Festival.
Diet Prada bashed the 'influencer trip' to the country which according to the United Nations is said to be causing 'the world's worst humanitarian crisis'.
The page also disclosed that according to its sources, six-figure sums were offered to internet celebrities to attend the music festival in Saudi Arabia. The bashing on the internet became severe with many labelling the event attendees as 'sell-out'.
The country's most recent controversy involves the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 along with arrest and deportation of women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul last year in May.
Other attendees included Ed Westwick, Alessandra Ambrosio, Winnie Harlow, and Sofia Richie with her boyfriend Scott Disick. Richie posted a photo from the festival along with her friends from Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. It is also the same hotel where Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman detained the political members from his opposition in the fall of 2017.
Karen Attiah, a friend of Khashoggi not only slammed the 'VIP' attendees but also called out international media outlets for promoting the festival. In a series of tweets, she recalled how she along with other journalists and activists have dreaded to speak in support of Khashoggi and the Saudi Crown Prince as well as the 'abuses under his watch'. Attiah further called it a 'slap in the face' for international entertainment media to receive money from KSA.
The dark side of influencer culture is that it really is the ultimate expression of capitalism.— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) December 22, 2019
Money over human lives.
What good is your platform if you overlook Saudi regime’s murder and torture for a few bucks?
These influencers are just for-hire human billboards.