When the sky falls
Sometimes, our favourite celebrities can make mistakes too
Okay, so let’s assume your girlfriend makes it amply evident to you that she isn’t interested in you anymore. Let’s say she has expressed this unequivocally through her words and actions. What if you continued to chase her? What if you, say, stood behind her and began massaging her shoulders? What if you went to her bedroom, and insisted on lying next to her, and cozying up? Meanwhile, all this while, she is squirming, and conveying her discomfort. But you just won’t take no for an answer. You just can’t. So, you’ll walk by her, whispering, ‘I love you’, as she looks bewildered. You hope to wear her down because your love is ‘pure’.
Tell me, doesn’t this seem straight out of one of those horrible Tamil romance films that confuse harrassment for courtship? And yet, when these events occurred in Bigg Boss Tamil this past week, when the genders were reversed, very few seemed to notice it was a problem. In fact, some even speculated that the man likely brought it upon himself, even though there was little evidence to suggest that. Of course, I, like you, am simply going by what was shown, and it could well be that the reality of the situation isn’t as telecast in the channel. The real problem isn’t so much the veracity of the events, but our instincts, our usual responses to harrassment when it happens to a male.
There’s another side to this. It’s what we, South Indian fans, have traditionally been accused of: blind adulation for celebrities. It’s often said that when fans in this region root for somebody, their support is all-encompassing. It’s said with pride. Even Kamal Haasan, on Saturday’s show, pointed out that it was new to him that fans were being accepting of a person, despite, in his own words, “the flaws”. However, given how little discourse occurred over the last week over these flaws, it seems to me that fans weren’t truly accepting of them. Acceptance, after all, requires acknowledgement, and in this case, fans just turned a blind eye.
Yes, it’s wise to take the woman’s side when in matters of doubt, considering that for centuries, they have been oppressed, their rights negated, their voices muted. But the events of last week needed to be observed in the same light as we, no doubt, would have, had the genders been reversed. When a man is at the receiving end of obsessive pursuit, of harrassment, somehow, it’s almost thought of as a trifling matter. “What’re you whining about? Man up, for chrissake!”
Some even suggested that the man was partly to blame. He had, after all, shown interest. Take a step back and reconsider this position. Isn’t this the sort of victim blaming we have all been trying so hard to eliminate? It’s important in the interest of fairness, even in the interest of women, that when women make mistakes, they get called out too. If we can be up in arms against the tasteless portrayal of the mentally challenged in the show, we can also teach the young that romantic love is a two-way street. Should one party convey disinterest, let it be thought pathetic if the other, gracelessly, continues to invade personal space. Also, acknowledging that our heroes (and heroines) make mistakes, needn’t taint our affection for them. It is reinforcement that they are human too, that they are also fallible. And god knows that in our celebrity-crazy society, we need it now more than ever.