George Clooney on Exploitation and Religious Differences
A recent article in The Daily Mail cited the religion of George Clooney’s fiancée, Amal Alamuddin, as a potential barrier to their impending marriage. The article claimed she is Druze (see below), and because the Druze don’t allow conversion and must perpetuate the faith through marriage, this was going to make their relationship problematic.
As it turns out, she is not Druze. Clooney slammed The Daily Mail not only for the falsity of their reporting, but also for exploiting religion. He said, "The irresponsibility, in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist, is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous.”
Though Clooney doesn’t explicitly say it, the article was using religion to create an attention getting foe for the article. Unfortunately, this happens often. Anthony Gittins, a social anthropologist, says that societies have a way of fabricating their enemies by who they make the villain of their stories and the butt of their jokes.
It’s no wonder we have problems. Think of the current television shows and movies that portrait Arabs as the villains, Latinos as gangbangers, and blacks as thugs. We use stereotypical images of people groups to supply the role of antagonist in our plots, and without realizing it, we are fabricating our society’s enemies.
The Clooney debacle should remind us to take better care in how we represent people. As Christians, we believe that all people are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and we are called to represent our neighbors fairly (Exodus 20:16). These are God’s reminders for us to be affirmers of people’s worth, not fabricators of our enemies.
Note: The Druze community is located primarily in the Levant. It is a monotheistic faith that is an offshoot of Islam that has incorporated elements of the Abrahamic faiths along with other philosophical influences.