Porn star Mia Khalifa has found herself at the centre of an intense cultural, political and religious debate in Lebanon, the country of her birth.
The 21-year-old Florida-based performer is currently Pornhub’s highest-ranked star, a meteoric rise given her relatively short time in the biz. The sudden attention caught the focus of people back home, with the issue dividing people in the Middle Eastern nation.
Khalifa left Lebanon with her family when she was just 10. Since then she has lived in the US.
The Lebanese media were quick to pour scorn on Khalifa and her career, publishing a statement from Khalifa’s family that decried her life choices and severed all ties with her.
Just in case the hysteria surrounding the news didn’t seem enough, Khalifa was also the recipient of online death threats. The star was sent at least one mocked up shot showing her in an orange jumpsuit waiting to be killed in an ISIS-style execution.
— Hussein Annan (@UsainAnnan) January 5, 2015
Thankfully, Ms. Khalifa has enough in the tank to at least put a strong public face on things. She’s successfully flicked away and made fools of the random agitators that Twitter teems with. Easy meat for somebody with a good vantage point, but no less satisfying.
— Mia Khalifa (@miakhalifa) January 7, 2015
The debate has even bled into highbrow intellectual circles. British-Lebanese author Nasri Atallah believes the issue has far wider implications than simply the “shame” of a nation still mired in the problems wrought by staunchly conservative socio-religious shadows.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Mr. Attallah stated his belief that:
“The lack of appreciation of her success is odd given that the Lebanese are famous for latching onto the successes of anyone who has ever come close to a Cedar tree. We claim fourth generation Mexicans as our own just because they’re successful. Why aren’t we proud of this woman skyrocketing to the top of her chosen profession? Why are we proud of Carlos Ghosn or Shakira? Is sex really that terrifying? Lebanese pop culture is one of the most highly pornographic I have ever come across. While there might not be any actual nudity or penetration, every hyper-suggestive pop video, every glistening TV host, every drama filmed in a producer’s porn-set-like home: the aesthetic is pure porn. We’re just comfortable with it as long as the sex is left out of it. As for the double standards, if the top male pornstar on Pornhub was Lebanese and had the world’s most prolific dick, everyone would be sharing stories about it with pride.”
He goes on to point out that “One of the biggest porn production houses on earth, Brazzers, is co-founded by a Lebanese guy living in Montreal, who went to Concordia, a university every Lebanese mom is proud to boast her son went to. Why aren’t you angry at him?”
Ultimately, the debate won’t change a thing. Mia Khalifa will not up sticks and quit the biz in the name of good grace and supposed ‘values’. Those opposed to her and her work won’t suddenly wake up the next morning a la Ebeneezer Scrooge; new souls with changed moral codes.
What this has done is end a person’s relationship for good with the country of their birth (Khalifa stated on Twitter she won’t ever be returning) and closed the door, perhaps forever, on relations with her family.
Khalifa’s story shows that with an astute and smart approach, you can be a success at whatsoever you put your mind to. That should be the celebrated factor, not ruminating on whether or not she has corrupted ancient values that seem to shift constantly.
Let’s end this on a positive note. American hip hop crew Timeflies, in a show of support for Khalifa, released a song paying tribute to her. Now THAT’S international co-operation!