After cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul were suspended and heavily criticized for their extremely sexist and misogynistic comments on the popular talk show Koffee with Karan, we take a closer look at how these shows contribute to the already existing toxicity in the film industry.
Everybody inside and outside of the film industry is painfully aware of the evils it manifests. From casual homophobia and blatant objectification of women to excessive slut-shaming and sexism, all these factors are evident in both the reel and the real life of the industry. Further, in the light of the recent ‘Me Too’ movement, it is evident that the film industry is anything but safe. This makes for an extremely toxic and negative environment for those already in, and those yet to enter the industry. Talk shows like Koffee with Karan among others, contribute to this toxic culture. It might be entertaining for the public, but what they don’t realize is that it capitalizes on the insecurities of actors and actresses; the questions although seemingly harmless, tend to make the guest extremely uncomfortable and targeted. It thrives largely on the rumor mill of the industry and only aims to keep it churning.
Hosts in these shows have a tendency to blur the line between personal and professional lives, and while making crass jokes and asking twisted questions may be fodder for gossip columns and sate the hunger of gossip mongers, it also takes a toll on the mental health of the guests. These shows tend to get unnecessarily invasive and coax the interviewee to reveal the most personal details about themselves. Some might argue that often actors and actresses know what they are getting themselves into, but that doesn’t give the hosts a free pass at capitalizing on personal information and bringing it up on national television. Shows like Comedy Nights with Kapil also did something similar: guests used to get ‘roasted’, and outwardly harmless jokes would be interlaced with unabashed misogyny and racism. The men playing female characters in no way, shape, or form, promoted breaking gender norms, and rather mocked femininity through obvious exaggeration. Another example of such a culture is the infamous AIB roast– the episode spread like wildfire for its dark, racist and sexist humor. It went to such an extreme that it had to be taken down for being outright offensive and derogatory to not just the actors, but also to various sectors of society.
While these shows provide a platform that promotes such toxicity, the guest actors and actresses are equally to blame. Even though their answers in the shows might be scripted, the fact that they are consciously agreeing to promote negativity and toxicity doesn’t help their case nor does it improve the current scenario of the film industry. A Show like Bigg Boss perfectly embodies toxic culture and reeks of controversy inside and outside the ‘house’. Although it is scripted as well, it normalizes hate speech, homophobia and sexism. Owing to TRPs, it has a wide reach and hence influences a large audience that possibly consists of children who are extremely gullible and easy to impress upon. Due to this current Bollywood culture where anything goes in the name of entertainment, various comedians, actors, and talk show hosts continue to get away with problematic statements, even when called out on a public platform. This toxic culture only continues to grow in the film industry.
No matter how glamorous it might seem, the industry is a double edged sword; with the glamour and the fame comes the stress and pressure of being perfect and maintaining a specific image. A slight slip-up can, and will lead to reputations getting tarnished due to a million consequent controversies. It is under circumstances like these that the film industry is currently at its worst and even though most people are aware of this toxic situation in the industry, they continue to encourage such shows instead of calling out problematic behavior.
Picture Credits : mid-day