If nothing else then social media has aided many to become ‘stars’ (as much as it is wrong to even use this term). We have likes of Dhinchak Pooja (who was interviewed by leading news channels despite her cringe-worthy songs) and Omprakash Mishra (who is a self-proclaimed ‘rap-king’), who became Internet sensations, overnight. The former poses no direct threat to anyone since Dhinchakness is all about flaunting your Audis, clicking selfies and dresses, but the same cannot be said about the latter. Mishra’s song where he talks about an imaginary aunty and how badly he wants to bed her, reeks of pervert mindset, misogyny and sexism. And apparently, this is not even half of the problem.
The song Bol Naa Aunty Aaun Kya? was first uploaded in 2015. Strangely enough, after a gap of two years, the song went through a miraculous (and unexplained) resurrection. The next thing I saw was this video being shared many times on my Facebook timeline. Even pages like All India Bakchod did not back out and jumped at this opportunity to make memes and garner social media interaction. It was just another absurd song with nonsensical lyrics for everyone until good folks in media (like Quint) pointed out the blatant sexism and ridiculously pervert mindset it promoted.
But maybe by the time it happened, it was too late. By the time people started slamming Omprakash Mishra, ‘stardom’ had already gotten into his head, thanks to the unsolicited attention he got. This guy had already crowned himself as the next rap king after Baadshah or Yo Yo Honey Singh maybe. Just when we thought, this sick song would only be restricted to the world of Internet, an event was held in Connaught Place, New Delhi to celebrate it. The event actually invited thousands of young people to shout ‘Bol Naa Aunty Aaun Kya?’ And shockingly, the event turned out to be a ‘success’. The pathetic success of the New Delhi event prompted others to follow suit- soon there were announcements about similar gatherings in Mumbai and Bangalore. If not for journos, this sexist song would have gotten away even in major cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. Thankfully the Bangalore and Mumbai events were cancelled, but unfortunately, the event did see the light of the day in Indore, Bhubaneshwar and also at an educational institute like IIT Kharagpur.
This is how Omprakash Mishra’s Facebook page flaunted this insane achievement:
An initiative by a brave journalist Deeksha Sharma, who works for The Quint, the song was pulled down by YouTube. While this fearless move by Deeksha was celebrated, what followed suit shocked the living daylights out of everyone. Rape and death threats were issued by Mishra’s followers and she was reminded of what happened to Gauri Lankesh (a senior journalist who was killed in cold blood because of doing her job honestly).
Here is the copy of the official complaint filed by the news portal:
— Sohini Guharoy (@sohinigr) September 16, 2017
A threat to a journalist, but for what?
Issuing threats to journalists have become the new normal, and it needs to be stopped. If you look at the Twitter profiles of journalists like Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt, and Anna MM Vetticad, you would know what they face everyday. Things have really changed for journalists as opposed to what they were a decade ago. Earlier, journalists could speak their mind and voiced their honest opinion, but this is not the case anymore. An opinion which doesn’t appeal to the masses is met with abuses, threats and what not (because everyone is on social media and everyone has an opinion). The hatred which these people spread has made social media scary. Being opinionated, secular, and anyone with a sane mind gets you tags like ‘libtard’, ‘right-wing activist’ and ‘presstitute’. And if abuses weren’t enough, haters and shamers have now taken it a notch higher and retorted to grave threats like rape. These threats only reiterate the obvious- men have been using rape as a tool to silence women since time immemorial, and they are doing it again.
Here is a tweet that captures the harrowing experience Deeksha went through
In the last 24 hrs, my colleague got 3 death threats on her personal number, about 9 rape threats and thousands of abusive msgs.
— Sohini Guharoy (@sohinigr) September 16, 2017
And the messages she received:
Who is to be blamed?
Can we really wash our hands off this obnoxious mentality and treat it as just another social media outrage? Why did no one notice how sexist the song was before the journalists pointed it out? Why did no one realise that in the name of humour, sexism was being shoved down our throats?
Here are the memes made by popular pages about the song and Mishra:
Every time one of us shared the song on our Facebook page or showed it to our friends on YouTube, we contributed to the millions of likes it got and made Mishra a star. Even after the uproar, Mishra hasn’t understood his fault and believes that there is nothing wrong with his song. On September 16, he ‘appealed’ to his fans to not rate Quint Neon for their ‘mistake’ and give them another ‘chance’.
The saddest part of the entire story is that young minds are idolising him. The threats Deeksha received are from young people, who are expected to take our society to great heights. But are they really doing it? No, they are shouting sexist lyrics, in cities and enjoying it.
If nothing else, this should teach all of us a lesson. Before we joke about another ‘creative product’, make the person a star by liking and sharing the video, we should all know what we are signing up for. But at the end, unfortunately, all the ambitious talks about helping the society get rid of misogyny is just another impossible dream.