Hello, my feminist netizens! As I still recover from the unabashed, proud display of misogyny featuring our very ‘progressive’, ‘woke’ boy Karan Johar and the newly emerged faces of the “men will be men” brigade Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul, the gnawing remains of the aftermath stomp on my path to recovery.
We all know about the distinct reputation that KJo’s weekly gossip session, Koffee with Karan, has built over its six season running time. The show is known for scrounging and boasting of the ‘masala’ that the personal lives of the guests provide which, often, is the only thing that the couch seaters end up discussing. And the problem with this mad hunt for gossip is that it demands consistency for deeper revelation, the process exposing biases of people we have idolised over years. Which is what happened with the Pandya-Rahul episode. People called out the sexist ‘hype-beast’, Pandya, on his behaviour, in the light of which Hotstar, the streaming platform of the show, took down that episode – a move which I thought was more threatening to the dialogue generated by that episode than healing.
I don’t need a disclaimer saying that the views expressed are personal, I want accountability.
We are living in the times of #MeToo where it has become absolutely important to call perpetrators out, hold them accountable for their actions because the culture of impunity needs to be broken. However, Hotstar, instead of taking responsibility for the proud display of casual misogyny took a 180 degree turn. Instead of apologising and assuming accountability for letting this episode be what it was, Hotstar, by choosing to distance itself announced its entry into the boys club!
I was wondering what would have happened if the episode was still there? More people would have watched it? More criticism? A tirade of what would seem like an incessant backlash would face Hotstar? Sure. So the next logical step seems taking down the episode and cutting the problem by its root, right? Well, no.
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Most of us by now know what happened, either first hand or through social media. So the problem now is not that the episode got released but that it was taken down. As frivolously handled the act was, I was thinking what could Hotstar have done to responsibly handle the fiasco?
Well, for starters, they could have issued an apology for the views expressed on the show instead of promoting it first and then disassociating with it when the internet wasn’t too happy. I don’t need a disclaimer saying that the views expressed are personal, I want accountability. I want responsibility. Or they could have reshot the episode after the crew, alert to Pandya’s disdainful comments, called him out instead of celebrating his eye-blinding bling and annoying ‘coolness’.
And if not any of those, in the light of the criticism, a small video could have been filmed, with feminist experts, explaining how the behaviour and views expressed were indeed problematic. But all that involves resources, better to say goodbye to the episode itself, hai na?
These men should realise that their sexist behaviour has consequences which the outcry of their careers and privileges cannot shield.
And it’s not just Hotstar, the stream of sensitisation has to reach the crew members of the Koffee with Karan team. If Pandya was showing off his influences from the ‘black culture’, why didn’t Karan or the crew or even his best friend Rahul, stop him? Why wasn’t there an intervention, a glitch, an eyebrow raised by any of the people present? If you tell me that this is the very nature of what Koffee with Karan is about, I’ll ask you if you can accept the normalisation of sexism and racism and objectification of people? Instead of educating ourselves out of ignorance, should we celebrate derogation of human beings in the name of harmless ‘gossip’?
Come on, it’s 2019! Humiliating slurs and jokes are seriously so passé, people!
Rajdeep Sardesai in a recent tweet mentioned how people should just move on and not treat Pandya and Rahul like criminals because their careers are at stake. Sorry, Mr. Sardesai, but these men have to be held accountable for their actions. They should realise that their sexist behaviour has consequences which the outcry of their careers and privileges cannot shield. Whether it were KJo and Rahul laughing or the crew of Koffee with Karan and Hotstar not intervening, complicity, in any form, is not acceptable.
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The solution is never turning away from the problem, it is to look at it in the eye and owning up to it with a resolve that we’ll learn something from it. What is the difference between healthy banter and humiliating gossip? Justification? How long can we keep listening to the latter and justify it in the name of entertainment, fun, or as something that will not affect our off-screen lives? High time, no?